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East of the Cascade Range in Washington and on the western slope of the Coeur d'Alene Mountains next to the Idaho-Washington boundary, lies the city of Spokane. Named for the Native American tribe that makes its home in this area, it means "Children of the Sun", a fitting name as the area is known for its bright blue skies, glistening rivers and lakes. Spokane became an incorporated City on Nov. 29, 1881, encompassing 1.56 square miles. Back then, the City was known as “Spokan Falls” and had only 350 residents. The "e" was added to Spokane in 1883, and "Falls" was dropped in 1891.
Today the City of Spokane is home to some 195,500 residents with are around 418,000 residents in the metropolitan area. A far cry from its humble beginnings it now serves as a shopping, entertainment, and medical hub for an area that includes Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, North Idaho, Western Montana, and southern portions of Alberta and British Columbia. The Spokane River runs through downtown with spectacular falls on the western end of the city. An outdoors lover's paradise, with white-water rafting, camping areas, hiking trails, numerous lakes, downhill and cross-country skiing, and the Centennial Trail are all close at hand. The Spokane region features a landscape of uncommon variety. Within an hours drive, visitors can find high country lakes, lonesome desert or almost anything in between. Forests, rushing rivers and lakes by the dozens share space with great rolling waves of wheat fields and stunning rock formations. It is said that from the top of nearby Mount Spokane you can see three states and two provinces-Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alberta and British Columbia.
Riverfront Park is located at the heart of the Spokane region and serves as its centerpiece. This 100-acre park was the site of Worlds Fair Expo 74; now, it is a green space with a variety of attractions and events throughout the year and is a primary gathering place for the community. The warmer months bustle with activity with a full schedule of outdoor events in the park. The entertainment pavilion here is the location for amusement rides, the ice rink, mini-golf, and the IMAX theatre. The crowning jewel of the park is the Looff Carousel. Crafted in 1909 this antique beauty is comprised of 54 hand-carved horses and is a joyful piece of Spokane's past that continues to delight people young and old. Riverfront Park also offers spectacular viewing areas of the mighty Spokane River and Falls.
Other area parks include Manito Park featuring the Duncan Garden, Lilac Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, and the Conservatory, as well as ponds, and picnic areas. Riverside State Park offers another view of the Spokane River with wilderness-like natural trails, picnic areas, and camping facilities just minutes from the downtown area.
In 1979, Spokane County Parks proposed a bicycle/pedestrian pathway along the river which would run from Argonne Road to the State Line. This idea was nurtured by the Parks and Recreation Committee of the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce in 1984 as they explored new recreational opportunities along the river and in 1986, a 10 1/2 mile trail to be built in conjunction with the Washington Centennial was proposed. A coordinated effort with the neighboring town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho to build a trail from the Spokane House at the meeting of the Spokane and Little Spokane Rivers to the far side of Coeur d'Alene Lake, some 69 miles in length soon followed. Today there’s something for everyone on this wonderfully made paved trail. Walk, run, bike, skate, ride horseback or just picnic along the rivers edge. Designated for use of people of all ages and abilities the trail is wheelchair accessible making it a place to be enjoyed by all.