Hog Canyon

 What:  Mtn-biking, Hiking, history, geology, water phenomenon as water source of lake disappears under ground and reappears. Short scenic scablands tour over length of Hog Canyon lake. Stair stepping waterfall highlights trek during wet spring months. Also during spring, area comes alive with wildflowers beginning in late March and running into May. Expect to see hawks and migratory waterfowl. Fishing for stocked rainbow trout can be excellent at this special winter fishing lake, which is open to angling Dec. 1 - March 31. No motors allowed on lake. 

 Where: This is a thirty-minute drive from Spokane. From Interstate 90 east of Sprague, WA, take Fishtrap Exit 254. Turn south, crossing over I-90, and drive 2 miles,. Turn left on first road after passing below railroad underpass. Drive 1 1/3 miles on gravel road. Turn south (right) at BLM access area. Drive 1 3/4 miles on rough road. Park and drop down sharply to parking area at Washington Fish and Wildlife Dept public fishing access site. Scabrock benches overlooking Hog Canyon custom-made for wandering. One could make nice 2-mile hiking or mountain-biking loop by following old dirt road closed to vehicle traffic. From public boat access area near earthen dam, begin hiking along informal "anglers trail" on northwest side of lake. Just before trail fades away, carefully scramble up through intermittent scree to rim. Don't worry about finding dirt road. Simply follow along rim heading northeast for almost constant views of lake. Bluffs near north end of lake gives good view of falls. Contour away from lake, crossing intermittent stream, for even closer view of falls at overlook near boundary of public and private land. Note: In normal year, falls and streams dry up in spring and early fall. To see more of this area, don't just retrace route back to trailhead. Climb slope to join dirt road and follow it counterclockwise, though scattered ponderosa pines and past marsh. Cross through fence and walk along main access road back to trailhead.

Mountain bikers: Two choices for access. We started from the parking area & took a trail on the northwest side of the lake. Almost immediately, it became way too tough & we ended up doing a hike-a-bike up the hill to the dirt road. (No off-trail riding!) A better way to do this might be to bike up the hill from the parking area on the road you came in on to the first dirt road & use it. We can't give this a whole-hearted endorsement for mountain biking; two miles took two hours of work, although it was fun & there are some great views. Some people may think that there just isn't enough trail to make it worthwhile. That said, there are a lot of good dirt roads if that is more to your liking, including one that we didn't take, that seems to wind through the forest and scablands.

 Cautions:  Rough rocky terrain, rattlesnakes, and don't hike on the east side of lake as it is too rough. During hunting season (sometime Oct- Nov), you may want to steer clear, or at the very least, wear bright clothing. Mountain bikes are required to stay on established roads or trails. Camping by permit only. No campfires allowed. Many of these trails are steep and/or rocky so I would not bring young inexperienced children along unless you want to teach them about how to hike-a-bike at the right times.

The construction work is all done now; the gates should be open except during bad snow or rain storms. Also may be closed for a couple weeks during hunting season in Oct- Nov. You may call BLM headquarters at 509-536-1200 before driving out to make sure it's open, or to arrange for permits.

 List:  Water as can get very hot in summer.