GoSpokaneMagazine

Kayaking The little Spokane

An Easy Float


The Little Spokane River is a tributary of the Spokane River that originates north by Newport. It is about 35 miles long and picks up the water from Eloika Lake and Dragoon Creek along the way. The river comes down from the north, heads west when it gets to Wandermere and flows into the Spokane River just north of Nine Mile Falls by the Spokane House.

Much of the Little Spokane River is little more than a creek and not navigable by kayak or canoe. The last seven miles can be paddled in a kayak or canoe and the scenery is amazing. The river hasn't changed much since Native Americans used it for fishing and hunting, before European settlers ever came to the area.

It does not feel like a step back in time but more of a step into the wilderness. Just a few short miles out of town and you get the feeling that you are far from civilization. Excepting the occasional farm house or bridge, you are completely surrounded by nature throughout the whole journey. You are very likely to see many deer, beaver, otter, ducks, herons, and a variety of songbirds. You may even spot an elk or moose along the way.

Throughout the summer the current is not very swift but in the spring the water is quite cold and moves a little faster due to the snow melt. There still won't be any rapids on this part of the river. Most places you could easily stand up but there are some spots where the water can get a little deeper.

This section of the Spokane River and the land surrounding it is part of Riverside State Park. Of course this means there are rules of what you can and can't do. You are allowed to float or paddle in kayaks, canoes and rafts. There is no tubing or swimming allowed in this part of the river. No motorized craft are allowed either. You can fish off your kayak or canoe, but not from the shore. Life vests are required at all times while floating. There is no alcohol allowed on the river.

There are no real hazards on this section of the river but whenever you are recreating in water it is important to stay alert and use caution. There are many places where the current tries to push you under low hanging branches alongside the shore called sweepers. There are floating logs that will try and trap you and sandbars that will stop you cold. No alligators though.

Bring your camera and your phone but keep them in something watertight that is secured to your boat. Bring your lunch but don't leave your trash. With light paddling the whole journey will take about four hours in mid-summer when the current is at its slowest. With more aggressive paddling or the spring runoff, this time can be shortened substantially. There is also a mid-point where you can put in or take out that will cut the journey in half.

You will need two vehicles and two drivers to make this trip. It is easiest if each vehicle will hold all people and all watercraft. This will reduce the back and forth shuffling before and after the trip. Ultimately you will need to have a vehicle at the take-out point waiting for you and another vehicle, all paddlers and all boats at the put-in point. My directions will take you to the take out point first with the assumption that you will first be dropping off the empty vehicle there.

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map of the kayak rout on the Little Spokane River

kayaking down the Little Spokane River