Page Contributor(s): Bruce Hamilton, La Quinta, CA, USA; Stacy Topping, Tacoma, WA, USA
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Cycling Mt. Spokane, Park Drive and Summit Drive, Washington State.
Ride 12.8 miles gaining 3,989’ to elevation 5,838’ at 5.8% average grade.
“Mount Spokane is an excellent ascent up into the mountains of eastern Washington and is another contender for most difficult in the state. Containing an isolated start, the climb begins over shallow grade and on a narrow, tree lined road. The grade gradually increases as you ride over this tight and dark in places section but is never steep. Just over 6 miles in you reach the ranger station on the left and enter Mount Spokane State Park. It is here that the true nature of the climb is revealed. The grade immediately becomes more solid at this point and then eases a bit after just under another mile. Soon you encounter a big switchback and more solid and steady grade. Further up the hill the grade eases slightly and at the road junction turn left on Summit Road. This road is more narrow and with poor pavement (as of 2012) which gives the hill a real alpine feel. The first mile of Summit Road is more stout before the slope eases. The trees soon begin to thin and long vies appear on clear days. The narrow road runs right to the edge of the mountain with big exposure in spots. Toward the very top the grade eases and the climb ends just beyond a small parking area beside cell phone towers on top of the mountain (closed in winter - Mount Spokane State Park - 509-238-4258). Mount Spokane is a tricky descent in a few places and this climb is often used in area races.” (This quote is presented with the approval of John Summerson, from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike), 2nd Edition, pg. 229.)
Come for the climb, stay for the descent. We don’t usually lead with this, but for this one it’s appropriate – this is a Top 10 descent – smooth road, perfect serpentine roadway for much of the upper descent which, along with the steep grade, makes for a very exciting descent, one of the best for technical descending. There are fantastic views to the south along the switchbacks beginning after turning onto summit road at mile 9.4.
Highway 206 on our way to the start of the climb.
During the lower portion of the climb we are surrounded by thick forest (and as noted above, bordered on one side by Bear Creek). As we approach the last mile, the trees begin to thin and eventually disappear as we go above the treeline and approach the summit at Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park. The final four miles on Summit Road are very pleasant with very mild traffic and a 25 MPH speed limit – you will not encounter many cars on this stretch of the road.
Log bridge at mile 3.8.
Views and sites along the first half of the climb.
The State Park Service website writes of Mt. Spokane:
“Mount Spokane State Park is a 12,293-acre camping park in the Selkirk Mountains with 100 miles of trails and panoramic views from the summit of 5,883-foot Mount Spokane. In winter, the park receives approximately 300 inches of snow.”
Mile 5.9 -- Mt. Spokane Visitor Center.
Views and sites along the second half of the climb.
Viewpoint at mile 8.4.
View east towards Idaho and Twin Lakes.
This is a very calm and peaceful climb, pedalling alongside the year-round Bear Creek for most of the first seven miles. THE climb (it’s in caps for a reason!) begins at approximately mile 7.4 with a 9.4% grade for about 3.3 miles. The initial and final segments of the climb are at very manageable grades.
Mt. Spokane is in the Selkirk Mountains, a subrange of the Canadian Rockies. The climb enters Mt. Spokane State Park at mile 5.8. The State Park was established in 1927 and is 12,293 acres.
Roadway Surface and Traffic Report: The roadway is very good throughout, although the last few miles are a bit rougher than the excellent roadway on Mt Spokane Road. Make sure to turn left (left is “up” and onto Summit Road, and right/straight is “down” and continuing on Mt. Spokane Riad) at mile 9.4. From this point, you’ll have four miles to go.
From PJAMM Contributor Patrick O'Neil, Spokane WA:
“Race The Sun” may refer to an evening ride where the goal is to reach the summit before sunset. This particular segment includes the relatively flat section from Forker Road. The actual climb is a beautiful 10 miles of 6-12% climbing through the forested Mt. Spokane. A creek runs next to the climb in the lower sections. Traffic is usually light and patient. One of the great features of this climb is it constantly undulates back and forth, always giving you something new to challenge yourself. The top rewards you by flattening out and with views of all around the Spokane area and east into Idaho. Part of its "epic" nature is just knowing how many riders make this climb. It has been used many years as a local hill climb race battle that we all enjoy.
From PJAMM contributor Bob Britton, Spokane, WA:
Mt. Spokane is located in eastern Washington (the dry side), near beautiful Spokane and is also the the location of Washington state’s largest state park. The way up starts on Highway 206, also known as Mt. Spokane Park Drive. I like to start well before "The Climb" to soak up some of the beautiful pastoral scenes and good views of Mt. Spokane. Orient yourself and explore segments embedded along the route beforehand. The road gently winds upward through heavily forested terrain following Deadman Creek drainage. The creek’s waters are often just a few yards off the road and the sounds of the dancing water adds to a calm coolness for a number of miles. The real climbing starts at the park entrance where grades kick up from 2%-5% to 8%-10% with few painful 11% punches mixed in. Once you reach a large gravel parking area you will take a hard left turn with four more more miles to go. The grades for the next mile are the steepest of the climb, but take heart as they are followed by some relatively easy grades. The views now really start to open up. The road makes several long traverses again affording some very nice territorial views. The towers above that come into site are your goal. Once at the top take time to gather in what I believe is some of the finest scenery in the country. There is a bathroom and water at the top. Use caution going down as there are a number of dips that are hard to see coming that could launch a rider out of control. Cheers!