Liberty Creek Loop Trail
DirectionsFrom Spokane, take the Liberty Lake exit off I-90. Travel east (straight) on Appleway 1 mile and go right (south) on Moulter. After another mile, turn left (east) on Valleyway. The road changes its name to Lakeside Road; follow the signs to Liberty Lake County Park.
5/28/2004: This loop hike is family-friendly and is a good way to see some nice waterfalls. I hiked this trail one week after the area got 4 inches of rain, so there was lots of water cascading down Liberty Creek. The trail is in excellent shape, and in many places it's 4-5 feet wide.
At key spots along the trail, green "Liberty Creek Walking Map" signs help the visitor determine where he/she is. USGS topo maps don't show all the trails and roads, so these signs are very helpful.
Hike the trail in a clockwise manner. You'll go past the return trail (on the right) at 0.3 mile from the trailhead, the "Split Creek Crossing" bridge at 0.95 mile, and the Liberty Creek Cedar Grove at about 2 miles. A sign there says "This stand of cedar trees and the surrounding 87 acres was acquired by Spokane County in 1993 with $247,000 of Conservation Futures Programs Funds."
Up to now the trail is very flat and easy. However, the trail narrows and goes up a moderate switchback section just west of the cedar grove. At the top of the switchback, I saw a Bald Eagle nest in an old snag. I've been told that this nest is used year after year, so look for it. An eagle flew overhead and perched within 100 feet of me -- a magnificent sight. It followed me south along the trail a bit to make sure I was away from the nest. There's a good view northwards towards Liberty Lake.
Off to the east, you'll see a ridge which is just across the state line into Idaho. After a while, you'll hear the roar of the ~35'-high waterfall. The bridges and platforms are all well made of lumber.
The trail proceeds southwards through a cedar forest along the east side of the creek for 1/2 mile, then it crosses the creek. Go STRAIGHT up the hill; don't go left or right along the wide pack trail for "More Hiking." You'll soon pass an old outhouse, and you'll see the old Camp Hughes cabin roof off to the right.
Located 3.6 miles from the trailhead at 3250 feet, the small, refurbished cabin can sleep 4. There's a sign that says "Camp Hughes -- Eagle Projects -- Greg Ridlington & Adam Gullett -- Troop 80 -- 1987." There's an inactive water supply hose up from the creek (100 yards away) that says "Eagle Project -- Darrin Pedersen -- Troop 80, 9-17-88." Troop 80 is out of Colbert, WA.
The trail heads northwestardly, and is quite uneventful on the return leg back to the County Park RV area. This 4'-wide path is the "Edith Hanson Riding Trail" for horses, with lots of water bar "humps" to control erosion. The viewpoint to the north is blocked by trees, so all you can see is the ridge to the east in Idaho.
This hike is OK for families, horses, and mountain bikes, but you can get much more scenery by driving further east to better trails in Idaho. It's only 1/2 hour from downtown Spokane, so if you need some quick exercise and want to see an eagle, try this out. Total elevation gain is a modest 1,190 feet (from 2,060 feet at the trailhead to 3,250 feet at the Camp Hughes shelter).