Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.
In and around Spokane, Washington, nature lovers will find a spectacular array of scenic lakes perfect for a quick escape or an extended getaway. So, we’ve put together a list of the 16 best lakes near “Lilac City” that offer plenty of outdoor activities, from calm fishing spots to adventurous water sports.
30 miles northwest of Spokane, in Stevens County, sits Loon Lake, a 1,100-acre body of water full of fun activities on its shoreline. From swimming, boating, and fishing to more adventurous pursuits like kayaking, sailing, water skiing, and jet skiing, this lake has something for every type of water enthusiast. Its shores dotted with cabins provide a perfect getaway, and an informal 4th of July boat parade each year where residents decorate the boats make it a great summer getaway.
Renowned for its fishing, kayaking, and canoeing opportunities, Liberty Lake is a 706-acre gem situated just 25 minutes from downtown Spokane. Access is easy via two public points: the WDFW boat ramp on the lake’s northern side or Liberty Lake Regional Park in the south, the latter also boasting a sandy beach, trails, and a campground. Stocked with rainbow and brown trout and home to bass and panfish during the summer months, Liberty Lake is a fishing enthusiast’s paradise.
Medical Lake, a 206-acre lake 20 minutes from Spokane, offers a huge variety of activities in its surrounding parks and accessible fishing shores. The southern shore’s Waterfront Park features a beach, playgrounds, picnic areas, sports fields, and a public boat launch. As motorized boating is prohibited, the lake is ideal for kayaking, paddleboarding, and even cliff-jumping off its unique rock formations. The Medical Lake Trail along the western shoreline offers a refreshing walk before a cooling dip in the lake.
Lake Coeur d’Alene
Just 45 miles across state lines to Idaho is Lake Coeur d’Alene, a beautiful lake with a dramatic mountain backdrop. A haven for outdoor lovers, you can hike scenic trails, sail the 26-mile lake, or catch a Chinook salmon. Between November and February, don’t miss the majestic spectacle of migrating bald eagles, too!
Within a short distance of 3 miles from Cheney, Spokane County, lies Fish Lake. This peaceful 67.5-acre lake is perfect for kayaking, swimming, or catching a variety of fish, like rainbow trout. Thanks to its ban on gasoline-powered boats, Fish Lake remains a calm escape from everyday life. A notable feature is its access to the Columbia Plateau Trail from the parking lot, where you can hike, bike, or horseback ride across 38 miles of rich, natural terrain.
Lake Spokane, also known as Long Lake, is a reservoir set on the Spokane River that covers an expanse of 4,748 acres. A visit to Riverside State Park allows for a taste of what the area offers, from swimming and boating to fishing and trails for hiking and biking. This large park also offers access to the Spokane and Little Spokane Rivers and marks the starting point of the 40-mile Centennial Trail.
Just a mile outside of Spokane County, near Riverside, WA, lies Fan Lake – a serene, 73.4-acre freshwater haven elevated at 1,925 feet. Renowned for its clear waters, accessible miles of shoreline, and boat launch, it’s a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts, offering opportunities for fly fishing, spinning, and baitcasting. Its calm waters also make it ideal for kayaking, paddleboarding, or boating, with possible catches including black crappie, brook trout, bass, and rainbow trout.
Silver Lake, a lakeside paradise in Northeast Washington, offers 500 acres of aquatic adventure. Just 20 minutes southwest of Spokane, it’s a perfect destination for a tranquil weekend or an extended stay, providing myriad activities like boating, swimming, and especially trout fishing. With several campgrounds and resorts catering to visitors, Silver Lake is the perfect blend of convenience and serenity.
Nestled just north of Spokane is the snug, 30-acre Bear Lake, a haven for families looking for an enjoyable day out. Its surrounding regional park provides amenities for BBQs, playgrounds for kids, and a walking trail encircling the lake. With no wide boat ramps, the lake’s waters are often dotted with paddleboards, canoes, and even inflatable unicorns. Notably, Bear Lake is a lovely spot for budding anglers under 15 or over 70, who can try their hand at catching rainbow trout, catfish, and bass.
Newman Lake, a peaceful 1,100-acre lake east of Spokane and just north of Interstate 90, is an attractive destination for those seeking tranquility and outdoor activities. Its nine-mile shoreline, adorned with pines and fir trees, makes it a favorite for fishing enthusiasts, particularly those after muskie. While swimming is allowed, Newman Lake’s focus remains on fishing, paddling, and boating.
Set within Stevens County, Washington, Deer Lake is a 1,150-acre spring-fed destination that captivates with its crystal-clear waters and lush surroundings. It draws wildlife lovers with the chance to spot everything from moose, black bears, and elk to mink, bobcats, and the endangered bald eagle. Deer Lake is also part of an essential route in the Pacific flyby area, making it a favored stop for thousands of migratory birds each year.
Hidden amidst the Selkirk Mountain Range’s foothills in Spokane County, Washington, Eloika Lake is a known haven for bass fishing, with large-mouthed bass of up to eight pounds being landed. Along with bass, the lake is home to other species like crappie, rainbow trout, German brown, bullhead, and perch, offering fishing all year, including ice fishing during the winter months. Small motorized boats, rowboats, and paddle crafts are seen frequently, allowing visitors to explore the lake at a relaxed pace, taking in the beautiful sunsets and shore wildlife.
About an hour from south of Spokane, Bonnie Lake, a striking 327-acre lake on Rock Creek, offers a unique paddling journey. This adventure, best suited for late spring and early/late summer, takes you through steep canyon walls and lush marshes, even offering the occasional thrill of spotting rattlesnakes. Starting from the bridge at Rock Creek on Belsby Road, you paddle a mile upstream to reach Bonnie Lake, with its scenic beauty making the effort worthwhile.
Horseshoe Lake is a serene locale ideal for leisurely activities like swimming, boating, fishing, and even golfing. Despite its small size, the lake boasts a rich variety of fish, including rainbow trout and largemouth bass, which are found in abundance. The nearby Horseshoe Lake County Park offers 39 acres of public grounds with numerous amenities including a swimming zone, boat launch, trails, picnic tables, and sports fields.
Another hop across state lines, Hayden Lake is found in North Idaho and is home to crystal clear waters, sandy swimming beaches, and picturesque timber shores. Surrounded by timbered mountains and extending to the Coeur d’Alene National Forest, the area offers excellent hunting, fishing, and camping opportunities. Lake Hayden ensures easy access with ramps at Honeysuckle Beach, Sportsman’s Park, and Tobler’s Marina, while also hosting a variety of game fish such as bluegill, bass, northern pike, and rainbow trout.
A 35-minute drive from Spokane brings you to Hauser Lake, a 540-acre reservoir in Idaho, known for its park and boat ramp. Besides its designated swimming area, opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding abound along its partially developed shoreline. It’s a fantastic spot for hooking largemouth bass and channel catfish. Although it lacks miles of hiking trails and campgrounds, Hauser Lake remains a favored spot for water recreation, with its summer buzz and winter ice-fishing allure.
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