As summer temperatures rise, so does the interest in the natural spaces and outdoor recreation opportunities available to Spokane Valley residents. One project that is gaining support and momentum in the community is the Spokane Valley River Loop Trail.
The City of Spokane Valley is developing a conceptual design for the trail that would create a paved non-motorized trail along the Spokane River’s north bank from Plante’s Ferry Sports Complex to city park property on Flora Road.
The proposed trail is approximately five miles long with pedestrian bridges over the river at each end that will connect to the Centennial Trail.
John Hohman, Deputy City Manager for the city of Spokane Valley, said the idea for the River Loop Trail started as a recommendation to the city’s economic development program in 2012 but the project didn’t evolve until the city’s purchase of the 45-acre Flora Park property from the Department of Transportation in 2020.
“We now have ownership of that property, and the plan is underway to buy more land to expand Sullivan Park,” Hohman said. “With those pieces in place, the idea of a trail to connect these areas started to seem more feasible.”
The city hopes to develop the Flora site, which runs along the Spokane River, into a park that could include amenities like campgrounds or a mountain biking course.
Spokane Valley’s Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Director John Bottelli said plans for the potential trail project first have to be agreed upon with state parks, as they own the land it will be built on.
“We will need to execute an agreement with them on this,” he said. “The good thing is that they seem open to it, and I’m pretty optimistic about the project going forward.”
Bottelli said the two most interesting features of the trail project are that it would link three parks (Plante’s Ferry, Sullivan, and Flora Road), and the increased accessibility to the Spokane River.
“Purchasing additional land at Sullivan would give us some great options for future redesign or expansion of that park, and the new Flora Road property also has amazing potential,” he said. “The other great thing about the trail is it will provide greater public access to the river especially on the north side, which is much needed.”
While the Valley River Loop Trail will primarily be for recreational use – it also has potential economic benefits. The trail project will improve infrastructure by connecting different park properties and increasing accessibility to natural areas. It will increase economic development through tourism, business, and housing opportunities.
Recently, the Spokane Valley has also been working with Spokane County on an improvement plan for the Plante’s Ferry Sports Complex that would include upgrades to its softball and soccer facilities.
“It’s still a preliminary effort but it’s a collaboration with a lot of potentials,” Hohman said. “It’s been neat to see how many recreational opportunities are coming together in Spokane Valley.”
Morgan Johnson is a bicycling enthusiast and owner of Mojo Cyclery, a Valley-based bike shop that specializes in bike repair, fits, and sales.
He said new trails and park connections like those proposed by the Valley River Loop Trail project give people greater encouragement to spend time outdoors and could also generate more traffic for area businesses.
“A lot of people enjoy trails because they’re a bit safer than cycling or jogging on the street,” he said. “There’s already a lot of outdoor events that take place in the summertime, so hopefully a new trail connection will bring more visitor traffic for businesses there.”
The Valley Loop Trail project has an estimated cost of $16.5 million. Its timeline for construction and completion will depend on finding and securing the needed funding.
The next step will be Spokane Valley City Council allocating some funds to further develop the concept. Currently, staff is looking at all potential sources of funding, from local, state, and federal grant programs.”
Hohman said that once the project has the full funding, it will be a two-to-three-year process from design to completion. “Our next steps are to have staff looking into preliminary engineering and to get the public engagement side started, as well as continuing to look for funding sources.”
Spokane Valley Mayor Ben Wick said there is already a lot of excitement for the project within the community.
“We’ve had several presentations on this project from groups like the Kawanas Club and the Valley Chamber, who have supported and promoted the idea,” Wick said. “It seems like everyone we talk to wants to know more about how we can get it done.”