Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
864.00 ft (263.35 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
6.20 mi (9.98 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Indian Painted Rock + Knothead Valley Loop Trail is 6.2-mile loop boasting outstanding views of the Little Spokane River around twenty minutes from downtown Spokane. The trail begins at Spokane's iconic Indian Painted Rocks in Riverside State Park. These well preserved Native American paintings were created by the town's namesake, the Spokane Tribe over 250 years ago and remain to this day.

With this trail being a loop, you have the option to begin the hike from the trailhead on the east side of the parking area or the trailhead on the northwest side. This trail write-up will be describing the hike using the northwest trailhead as a starting point. The trail begins on the Painted Rocks Nature Trail, a two-mile stretch of trail that follows alongside the banks and wetlands of the Little Spokane River. It’s proximity to the river makes the area’s vegetation lush and attracts wildlife; ducks, geese, heron, and deer are frequently seen on this section of the loop. On the right side of this trail are large granite peaks and crags. At this time much of the forested area around these crags is recovering from wildfire so many of the trees are blackened and bare while new growth emerges all around them. In areas not damaged by fire, the forests are comprised mainly of the Ponderosa and Lodgepole Pine, as well as Cottonwoods grouped close to the banks of Little Spokane River. This trail is popular among local birdwatchers for the numerous species that frequent the area. 

After two miles the trail is intersected by Riverpark Lane but picks back up again on the other side, which is well marked and should be fairly obvious. At this point, it begins to diverge from the river and ascend into the peaks above the Little Spokane River with long stretches of gradual uphill through Ponderosa forest. At around 2.5 miles the trail crosses another section of Riverpark Lane, which again will be clearly marked on the other side of the road. There is also a small footpath on the left of the trail before crossing the road that leads to a plateau. This vantage looks down onto the Little Spokane River making its way north with the peaks of the Colville National Forest on the horizon, which will be a small preview of the views still to come. After crossing Riverpark Lane, the trail levels out for a little under a mile then continues to climb further up the mountainside this time with a few steep switchbacks. At 3.8 miles the incline becomes more gradual with the view over the Little Spokane River expanding once again. The next half mile will provide the most panoramic views over the Little Spokane River toward both the north and southwest. A wooden bench at 4.3 miles marks the end of this section before a long section of descending switchbacks. For the next mile you will be hiking down the opposite side of the mountain into a deep and densely forested valley. 

Once you've reached the valley floor the landscape begins to change again. Steep forested embankments flank both sides of the trail which gradually become meadows with sections of burnt pines and granite formations. The trail continues to snake through the valley for 1.5 miles until the loop meets up with West Rutter Parkway. From here, the trail makes a sharp right moving parallel to the road. The trail continues like this for 0.2 miles with the Indian Painted Rocks parking area visible for most of it. 

To get to the trailhead from Spokane, take North Maple for 4.5 miles until reaching West Francis. Turn left onto West Francis and continue for 1.3 miles before turning right onto West Indian Trail Road. Stay on West Indian Trail Road, which will turn into West Rutter Parkway for 5.7 miles, the trailhead parking lot will be on your left.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Spring
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Washington Discovery Pass

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Good chance to see wildlife. Near river. Panoramic Views. Historically Significant.

Cons

Crowded at times. Limited parking in summer months due to river paddlers.

Trailhead Elevation

1,603.00 ft (488.59 m)

Highest point

2,464.00 ft (751.03 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Near lake or river
Historically significant
Wildlife
Big vistas

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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