Eastern Washington is geology. Catastrophic forces shaped the Inland Northwest, the most recent being the multiple cataclysmic floods of the last Ice Age. On their way to the Columbia River and then the ocean, these floods tore off the upper layer of earth in Eastern Washington with a wall of water, as tall as a skyscraper, that moved at speeds up to 80 miles per hour. What those floods left behind, we call home — the Channeled Scablands and exposed bedrock that populate our horizons.
So why, in a book devoted to the geology of our state, is there only one hike within a hundred miles of Spokane?
In all, this book describes 56 hikes in the state, from Cape Flattery on the tip of the Olympic Peninsula to the depths of Hells Canyon where Washington, Oregon and Idaho meet. It will help casual hikers notice and even enjoy the millions of years of history around us. It reveals the mysteries of the layered Columbia River basalt flows and tells the story of how the Wallula Gap bottlenecked the onslaught of Ice Age floods.
Perhaps one of the best hikes in this book within a day’s drive is Steamboat Rock (seven miles southwest of Electric City). Surrounded by the artificial Banks Lake, the rock rises an incredible 700 feet from the water’s surface — almost vertically. The landscape here is severe: Rocks and low-lying desert life are all you’ll encounter. But the hike is great and, with hints from this book, the desert’s extremes tell a fascinating story.
Still, why is Dishman Hills the only highlighted local hike? Sure, it’s a great place for an after-work jaunt, but what about a hike on the network of trails near Nine Mile Falls, where piles of granite stack up in massive pyramids? Or the myriad trails on Mount Spokane, which offers vantages of the many lakes left behind by the floods?
In all, this book is great for the road warrior-hiker. For a local day hike, however, stick with Rich Landers’ 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest.