Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,049.00 ft (319.74 m)
Trail type
6.21 mi (9.99 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.

The Knothead Valley Loop Trail is a seven-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. 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 being a loop hike 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 guide follows the hike starting at the northwest trailhead. 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 consist 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 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 in signifies the end of this section before a long section of descending switchbacks. For one 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)




Parking Pass

Washington Discovery Pass

Open Year-round



Wildlife. River views. Historically significant.


Can be crowded.

Trailhead Elevation

1,603.00 ft (488.59 m)

Highest point

2,464.00 ft (751.03 m)


Vault toilet
Historically significant
Near lake or river
Big vistas
Native artifacts
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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