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The Fish Lake Trail leaves West Spokane and runs south through open forest to reach Queen Lucas Lake, which is 1.5 miles north of the trail's ultimate planned destination, Fish Lake Regional Park. Upon completion of this gap, two bridges over active rail lines will join this trail to 3.5 paved miles of the Columbia Plateau Trail, serving as a corridor for commuting and recreation between Spokane and the college town of Cheney.
From the Spokane trailhead, the route follows a mild uphill grade; to your left, trees separate you from US 195 for a couple miles and then from Cheney Spokane Road, which loosely parallels the trail. Half-mile markers guide you through the hot, dry uplands of Eastern Washington.
The trail follows a piece of corridor of the Oregon–Washington Railroad & Navigation Company (a division of the Union Pacific Railroad) through the Latah Valley, formerly Hangman Valley. At Marshall Canyon, take in railroad history as you travel beside active rail lines through the area known by railfans as "The Funnel."
The Scribner Road trailhead offers access to scenic Queen Lucas Lake. Experienced commuters might leave the trail at South Scribner Road to continue 2 miles to Fish Lake, where the wide shoulders of the two-lane Cheney Spokane Road and the Columbia Plateau Trail offer separate routes to Cheney (and Eastern Washington University). Just farther south, the Columbia Plateau Trail leads into the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge; a hard-packed dirt and gravel surface, which becomes less passable mid-trail, replaces the paved trail just before reaching the refuge.
Future plans bridge a short gap on city roads to link the Fish Lake Trail to Centennial Trail State Park.
To reach the Spokane trailhead, take Interstate 90 to Exit 279. Continue on US 195 south for 0.3 mile. Turn right onto W. 16th Avenue, which becomes S. Lindeke Street and curves to the right. In 0.6 mile, turn right to stay on S. Lindeke Street (which becomes S. Milton Street), and then make an immediate right into the trailhead parking lot.
To reach the Scribner Road trailhead, take I-90 to Exit 270. Turn left onto W. Melville Road, and go 4 miles. Turn right onto S. Spotted Road, and in 0.7 mile, turn left onto W. Andrus Road. In 0.8 mile, turn right onto S. Grove Road, and then take a right onto Cheney Spokane Road. In 0.6 mile, take a left onto S. Scribner Road, and you will see a small gravel lot on your right.
Found this trail while in the area for a few days and decided to give it a try. So glad I did!!!! Beautiful pavement that is wide and well maintained beckons one on to finish this 9 mile trail slightly up hill to its end point. One can only hope the good people of this city will finish this trail soon. Only downer was large cracks in the pavement between mile 5-8. A couple of them where bone jarring. Nice ride through the pines made my day. Thanks for a splendid trail experience.
The Fish Lake Trail is a relatively short, beautifully maintained multi-use path, perfect for biking. I highly recommend it. It's the unofficial northern section of the Columbia Plateau Trail. It starts in Spokane just off West Sunset Blvd, near the intersection of US 195 and I-90. Search Google maps for "Fish Lake Trailhead" and it will pop right up. Parking is plentiful.
The trail heads south and southwest in the direction of Chaney, roughly following the Spokane-Chaney Road. The trail crosses I-90 on a trestle, parallels US 195 for a very short distance (<1 mile), and then you are in mostly trees for the rest of the ride. The area is not wilderness, but very rural and quiet. There are active rail lines to the east and west, but RR traffic was light enough that it was not a nuisance.
As of June 2016 the trail is paved to a point just past the southern end of Queen Lucas Lake, 9.3 miles in. The rise going south is very gentle - a net gain of 295 feet over the length of the trail, so the ride is doable for anyone who can ride a bike. There are benches along the way if you need to rest or want to stop for a meal. I started at 6:00 a.m., so trail use was fairly light. The scenery along the way is gorgeous. Much of the trail runs high on the slope overlooking Marshall Creek, so you get some beautiful views.
This section of trail is run by the City of Spokane. At the southern end a tall fence and two signs warn you not to go any farther if you don't want to face the wrath of BNSF. There is a short gap between the end of the Fish Lake Trail and the next trailhead - ironically at Fish Lake - that requires a safe way to cross existing RR tracks and Minnie Creek before it can be opened for travel. According to the city website, this is in the funding stage. Fish Lake is the beginning of the official Columbia Plateau Trail managed by the State of Washington.
Bottom line - Fish Lake Trail is a great option for any kind of bike ride. Highly recommended.
Almost ten miles of paved trail makes for a fantastic ride. The Fish Lake Trailhead at the north end has ample parking (with overflow parking available on the street), restrooms, and water fountains. Heading south from there, the trail gently rises around 1600 ft over the ten miles (approximately 3% grade, on average) making it an easy ride. The southern half of it offers amazing scenery once the trail turns east and follows the Cheney-Spokane Road through the valley. It currently (June 2015) ends at the southern end of Queen Lucas Lake. I'm eager for the remaining BNSF property to be acquired and the trail to connect with the Columbia Plateau Trail.
A great trail! All 10 miles are now open and paved with mile markers. It's a flat and easy trail with fewer people than the Centennial Trail. The main trail head is just a mile from downtown with restrooms, water fountains and parking.
The trail has been extended past Scribner Rd. It's not officially open yet but I couldn't resist and rode it anyway. One and a half miles of brand new asphalt. At the end there is an eight foot tall chain link fence, so I back tracked to Scribner. One could conceivably get around the fence however and ride the still-closed, gravel trail.
At the now paved Scribner Rd., I rode up to the Spokane-Cheney highway.( Approximately 500 yards.)
Then rode the nice wide shoulder about a mile and a half up a slight grade to South Meyers Park Rd. There are brown signs indicating the Fish Lake trailhead to the left.
Nice restrooms and plenty of free parking. Then rode the gorgeous 3.75 miles into Cheney. There were many turtles living in the babbling brook running down both sides of the trail. It's a very slight uphill grade through rocks and forest. The smells were intoxicating.
Turned right where the asphalt ends and went a half mile into town. There wasn't much there in the way of food and drink but one can wet their whistle and relax before the return ride. I hit the mini-mart about a half mile down First St. for some quick energy snacks and rode back to the shady bench and kiosk at the trail to enjoy them in peace and quiet.
Decided to try the Marshall to Spokane Memorial Park section of the trail. Nice part of the trail, paved, but don't like the "road cyclists" who ride in packs sometimes 3 abreast & force walkers off the side of the trail & look at walkers like they don't belong on the trail. Luckily only encountered one group of about a dozen. All single riders were quite courteous.
Fish Lake Revisited
What a change from last season. Then it was all construction and gravel and confusion at the north end. Poor TrailBear was wandering about, looking for the trail. No trail to be found. He couldn't find it at Fish Lake (not there yet) and he couldn't find it at the north end. There were some bits in the middle, under construction.
Today, between rain showers, he got in a ride. Even had sunshine.
Now you can now ride about 7.3 miles of excellent blacktop from a new trailhead in Spokane - where the tracks cross overhead - down to Marshall where the trail currently ends where the S. Scribner Rd. crosses the right of way.
The trail is a gentle incline up to Marshall, where it ends at an information kiosk on Scribner Rd. Ahead are the NO NO signs and the locked right of way leading to Fish Lake Trailhead. That is for Phase III. Go up to the Cheney Rd and use the wide shoulders to get down to Fish Lake and connect to the Columbia Plateau Trail and points south.
Fish Lake is a fun ride. The trail is set high on the side of the valley with good views and lined with pines. Active RR lines above and below keep things stimulating. Occasional benches are found in the first four miles. The older pavement in Marshall is showing transverse cracks.
It looked like there is some after work action. As TB headed back, there were more riders coming down to Marshall.
In the pines
Closing the gap in the Fish Lake Trail from Marshall down to Fish Lake is in the works. It is Phase III of the project and probably the most expensive part.
This article might be of interest...
In the meantime, they really would like you to ride the road from Marshall down to Fish Lake to avoid riling the RRs by crossing their right of way. There is enough shoulder that even the TrailBear will ride it.
Admiring that fine looking blacktop trail.
Rode the trail today for the first time. First off, bring your camera. the scenery if wonderful. Started at the trailhead just off of Sunset and Govt. way. The trailhead there is excellent with plenty of parking, facilities and water. Be sure to carry lots of water if you are riding on a hot day, as there are many areas where there is no shade. The pavement is in excellent condition and is quite suitable for road bikes as well as mountain bikes. The slope is very gradual from Spokane to Scribner. On a mountain bike with smooth tires I was able to maintain 12.5 mph. The section of the trail starting at Scribner seems closed. I would recommend going to the right and taking the Spokane Cheney road at this point. You will encounter one pretty good hill on the Spokane Cheney road within a mile of getting on the road. Slow going up but quite fast coming down. Be watching for the Fish Lake exit on your left. There will be an old shovel tractor at the turn off (can't miss it). It holds a sign for a restaurant. If you need to cool off, go down to the lake and take a dip at the beach. The beach is somewhat small, but then, so is the lake. Very pretty scenery. The trailheads all along this trail are excellent with clean restrooms. The section of trail from Fish lake to the Cheney trailhead is also very nice pavement, and the slope is still very manageable for riders of all levels. Once you get to the Cheney trailhead you can turn right and go down the Cheney Spangle road to Cheney. Cheney will be a short ride down this road, and you can find food and water readily in Cheney. If you choose to keep going on the Columbia Plateau Trail, it turns to gravel at the Cheney trailhead, and roadbikes will not work.
Overall I loved the ride and the trail. I would not take kids on the Cheney Spokane road, as large trucks are going up and down the road quite often. Great trail for beginners or the experienced.
The paved portion of the Fish Lake Trail runs from the trailhead near the intersection of Government Way and Sunset on the west side of Spokane to Scribner Road in Marshall. At that point, if you are on a road bike, you will need to turn to the right and climb the short but steep gravel road bed of Scribner to join the paved Cheney-Spokane Road about 100 yards from the trailhead. Then turn south toward Cheney and pedal 2.7 miles along the Cheney-Spokane Road to the Fish Lake Trailhead of the Columbia Plateau Trail on your left. Cheney-Spokane Road has adequate shoulders for road bikers for this portion of the trip. When you arrive at at the Fish Lake Trailhead, join the Columbia Plateau trail and you've got another 3.75 miles of pavement before the trail turns to gravel and enters the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. At this point, you will also encounter scattered railway ballast and you'll need a bike with fat tires. The Fish Lake Trail will be noisy if a train rumbles past you. By contrast, the Columbia Plateau Trail is almost devoid of man-made noise, especially after you enter the Turnbull Refuge. Between Turnbull and Martin Road, you will have amazing vistas of Eastern Washington, ponds, basalt formations, and nothing but the sounds of nature. If riding in sumer, bring lots of water.
Grandson and I with our dogs walked this trail 22 May 2010. Did not know how long it was until today. It was great seeing all the cyclists, joggers and walkers on the trail. With 7+ miles one could use this trail for bloomsday training. I know I will. Several miles out we seemed to be the only walkers. Plenty of cyclists to keep us company. The trail is suitable for all types of bikes, wheelchairs, skates and walkers with benches placed along the trail for viewing and resting. Take the kids a mile or two have a picnic. Enjoy. P.S. Please pack it out. Thanks Joeldandy
Can someone tell me how much of this trail is now suitable for road bikes..or is a Mt. Bike still the way to go? THX
This is trail is currently completed; all the construction equipment has been removed.
The first 2 miles are known to have the most users. If you are a cyclist, watch for the dog droppings. After the those first two miles, the number of users drops.
Wildlife seen on the trail ranges from coyotes, wild turkeys, deer and an occansional moose. A year ago(summer 2008), I talked with one user that had seen a young bear in the area of the NCRR bridge.
As per the Spokesman Review, dated the 23 Nov 09, the city wants to do a ribbon cutting ceremony, but is waiting for warmer weather-early spring of 2010.
FISH LAKE TRAIL UPDATE – NEW NORTH END TRAILHEAD UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Even as we speak … the Fish Lake Trail is getting a new trail head/ trail end at the north end by way of the I-90 freeway. We read the design review application and it sounded good. Some excerpts:
"New site elements will include the construction of a paved parking lot with curb for 24
vehicles including two ADA stalls. Concrete sidewalks and a plaza area will be
provided along with a flush restroom facility, an information kiosk with interpretive
signage, and paved access to the Fish Lake Trail. A trash receptacle, bench, and bike
rack will also be provided."
Flushies should mean a water fountain for the bottles or at least a sink. Sounds like a nice addition and a great improvement from this summer when I wandered about in search of the north end of the trail. Finally found the trail crossing S. Marshall Rd. with new blacktop.
“Stevemtbr” from BikeForums, a local rider, responded to my inquiries about the Fish Lake by taking camera and getting some shots of the new construction. These are posted for your viewing pleasure.
Stevemtbr - “Since I have nothing but time on my hands I decided to take a ride out to the trail and check on the progress. They're still working on the parking area and bridges. The new pavement starts just at the bridge that goes over Thorpe Rd and is paved until the bridge at Marshall Rd, about 3 miles worth. No paving was going on today but the equipment is still there and the remaining gavel sections look like there ready to get paved.
The trail head in Marshall at the end of the paved section off of S. Scribner has new trail closed signs heading to Fish Lake. Honestly in the past I've just ignored them and ridden on through with no issues. I attached a bunch of pics for your veiwing pleasure.
Trailhead? Marshall? Scribner Rd.? Have to give that one a look. As I understand the ride, you get on up at I-90, head south, hopefully on blacktop starting at Thorpe Rd. overpass, take it south thru Marshall to Scribner Rd., where you exit the trail and head down the S. Cheney/Spokane Rd. to the Fish Lake Trailhead. There you can hop on the Columbia Plateau Trail, ride the blacktop to Cheney TH and the gravel all the way down to Martin Rd. Roughly, about 32 miles one way. The roadies on their fast bikes will like it to Cheney. The mountain bikes can handle the somewhat soft gravels below Cheney.
THE FISH LAKE TRAIL – A WORK IN PROGRESS
October 10, 2009
When the Fish Lake Trail is done, it will connect Cheney to Spokane, with eventual hopes of an easy connection to Spokane’s Centennial Trail and thence to the North Idaho Centennial Trail. Dream of riding from Cheney to Coeur d’Alene.
You can ride further. Catch the bottom of the northern portion of the Columbia Plateau Trail at Martin Rd. TH out of Sprague, ride it north to Fish Lake Trail Head – and someday onward. When finished it should be a delightful ride. Check out my pix of the CPT on TraiLink.
Right now the Fish Lake is very much a Work in Progress and under construction. Paving was happening this summer. There is no trail head at the north end. In fact, there is some debate over where best to access the north end. A local suggestion is 13th x Government Way x Linedke Court. There is an application for funding to put a nice trail head with 24 parking stalls, flush toilets, etc., a bit further north at vicinity 47.647261° x -117.452892°, by the on-ramp north of the freeway.
There is a nice trail head at the south end – Fish Lake TH, terminus of the Columbia Plateau Trail, but no Fish Lake Trail comes in here, yet. To do so means crossing an active RR track marked “No Trespassing”. Phase III might have an overpass here. Meanwhile, do a bit of road riding.
You can trace the route on Google Earth. Enter: 47.617027° -117.442830° (cut/paste) and it will place you on the trail where it crosses S. Marshall Rd. This is a gravel road and one of the few access points to the trail. Check out my pix. New blacktop extended in both directions from here. How far north??? I resisted the sore temptation to drive the van up it to see. I was too lazy to get out the bike, unfold it, equip it and pedal north. I need an Xootr for quick looks.
On 9/20/09 it stopped short of the new overpass at N47.60460 W117.44218, but the grading continued south. The Spokane Spokesman-Review has a story about stimulus money being used to pave 4.4 miles of the trail.
Your last access point before Marshall is the new overpass on S. Marshall Rd. at N47.60460 W117.44218. From there the trail runs between an active line to the west and homes to the east. Climbing back yard fences to reach the trail is not recommended.
There is blacktop running between the rail tracks at the bottleneck in Marshall where a number of lines crowd together. How far north and south does it go? The locals ask that you exit the trail at Sprague Rd. and not go further south:
"We ask at this point that trail users not travel the section of the Fish Lake Trail from Scribner Road to Fish Lake, or the section over the Interstate north of the Lindeke Trailhead. There are significant liability issues for the city on both of those areas that could derail our efforts to get the trail done. Your help is appreciated."
Take the road down to Fish Lake Trailhead. There are generous shoulders for riding. You can take a virtual tour of the trail at:
If I were doing the Fish Lake today, I would park at S. Scribner Rd. in Marshall and ride the trail north to see how far the blacktop extends. It might go all the way to the S. Marshall Rd. Xing and beyond. The next entry point would be at the S. Marshall Rd Xing for another set of probes to north and south, as needed.
When I come back in the summer of 2010, there will be a lot more fine blacktop. The trail along Marshall Rd. is up high on the canyonside with nice views of the valley below. I am looking forward to riding it. Someday: “Martin Rd. to Spokane or Bust!”
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