INW Summer Fun with Kids

July 26, 2022

Summertime is my favorite time of year to adventure with my family! Sometimes it’s the three of us (counting the dog), and sometimes and it’s just my nine-year-old, Gavin, and me. Here are a few of our favorite summertime activities in the Inland Northwest. I hope you and your family have a chance to get outside and experience just a few of the things this beautiful place has to offer and that you can carry that sunshine and energy throughout your year together!

-Carol C., Director of Communications and Philanthropy


We have five bikes that live in our house with us. Yes, five. Two for Gavin and three for me. So we do lots of biking. Two of our favorite bike adventures in the summer are the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes and Route of the Hiawatha

Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

Start from Plummer, or for a shorter ride, Heyburn State Park and ride to Harrison for ice cream! This paved, dedicated bike and pedestrian trail highlight beautiful views of the southern shores of Chatcolet and the south end of Lake Coeur d’Alene. The paved surface and railroad grade elevation changes make this a leisurely pedal for riders of all experience and skill levels. Your Conservancy holds several conservation agreements in this area of the Coeur d’Alene River corridor, aiding in the restoration and clean-up efforts to remove legacy mining waste. Keep in mind there is a parking fee at Heyburn State Park that can be paid on site.

Visit for help in planning your trip.

Route of the Hiawatha

The Route of the Hiawatha is a converted railway traverses the Bitterroot Mountains’ crest near the Lookout Pass Ski Area. With seven restored trestles and a 1.7-mile tunnel, this adventure offers a look back into the railroad and mining history of the Inland Northwest. The trail travels gently downhill for approximately 14 miles. Stunning views and a well-maintained surface make this trail engaging and exciting for all ages. No bikes? No problem! Bikes, headlights, and helmets are available for rental at Lookout Pass and you can buy a seat on the shuttle for the return trip up the hill to your car. Plan for a stop in Wallace, ID on your way to or from the Hiawatha to check out the “Center of the Universe.”

Visit for more information on rentals, directions, and trail passes.


This spring’s cool, wet beginnings make this region’s moving water more treacherous than normal–especially for kids or inexperienced paddlers. But there are still plenty of flatwater adventures for kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, or canoes.

With motorized boats prohibited, Medical Lake is an ideal family-friendly destination with a user-friendly public boat launch and a nearby city park, great for picnics, beach recreation, and playing on the playground. There’s also a paved trail that goes most of the way around the lake, great for walking, biking, and bird-watching.

For more experienced paddlers or older kids, the Little Spokane River provides a beautiful and scenic experience north of Spokane. For a short paddle, put in at Painted Rocks Trailhead on West Rudder Parkway. Want a longer day on the water? Put in at the St. George’s put-in near St. George’s School. No boat? No problem. In addition to a convenient shuttle option for paddlers on the weekends, Spokane Parks & Recreation offers boats for rent through the summer months. Expect to see eagles, ducks, beavers, and maybe even moose in this protected natural area, but stay in your boat. It’s illegal to pull up on shore or swim in this protected river habitat.


As the summer heats up, why not head to higher elevation for a breath of cooler air? The summit of Mt. Spokane sits at 5,883 feet and even on the hottest days, you can find shade and cool, green spaces for you and your family. There are tons of trails up there, but my favorite with my son is Trail 130 from the Bald Knob Campground and parking area to the CCC Cabin on Beauty Mountain. We hike it in all four seasons, enjoying beargrass and huckleberries in the summer, golden aspens in the fall, and sweeping, snowy vistas in the winter.

Discover Passes are required to park in the State Park. Bears, moose, coyotes, and cougars all live in the park so be aware of local wildlife, make noise as you’re hiking, and give any animals you see plenty of space. Learn more about the park here.

Stairs to the CCC cabin in Mt. Spokane State Park

Urban Exploration

Nature and science go hand in hand. This summer, take your kids to Mobius Discovery Center in downtown Spokane for a deep dive into how stuff works. You can round out this adventure with roller skating at the Numerica Skate Ribbon or a frolic in the Rotary Fountain across the street in Riverfront Park.

Learn more and see their summer schedule here.

Summer adventures and experiences in the outdoors don’t always have to be about big things. Take some time to focus in on the small things with your kids this summer.

Challenge yourself and your family to find new places to explore this summer. Join the Great Spokane Parks Challenge! Sign up online with the Spokane City Credit Union and pledge to visit 24 city parks before October 7 and SCCU will donate $150 to the Spokane Parks Foundation*. This challenge can help you learn about the Olmsted brothers and the dream of Spokane leaders in the early 1900s to ensure that everyone in Spokane lived within walking distance of a park or open space.

Find out more about the Great Spokane Parks Challenge or sign up to participate here. And be sure to tell us which park was your favorite!

Summer Naturalists

Much bird habitat is in or near urban areas. And you can help the Audobon Society learn more about how these tiny beauties function in the world by becoming a backyard birder. The Audobon society seeks dedicated and passionate people (who don’t necessarily know anything about birds already) to help catalog the birds that live in their neighborhoods. Join the Great Backyard Bird Count or learn more about birds in your area here.

Summer adventures and experiences in the outdoors don’t always have to be about big things. Take some time to focus in on the small things with your kids this summer. Measure out a piece of string or yarn about a yard long. Cut one for each member of your family. Tie the ends of each individual piece of string together so the cord can form a circle.

Find a relatively quiet open space–your front yard, a local park, your favorite trail–and have everyone lay out their cord in a circle on the ground. Then take five minutes (or ten–or fifteen!) to sit on the ground, just outside your circles, and make notes about what you see there. Write down everything from the tiniest bugs and grasses to the pieces of human garbage. Then come back together as a family and talk about what you saw. Answer these questions and see where the conversation takes you.

1. Where do you think these things came from?
2. Where do they go at night?
3. How do they survive? What do they eat?
4. What would our neighborhood/yard/park look like if they weren’t here?
5. What was the most interesting thing you saw?
6. How many different things did you expect to find? How many different things did you find?
7. How can we help support all life that lives in this place, for the future?