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Day Mountain - Mt. Kit Carson (at Mount Spokane)

This is a challenging 13.3 mile hike, with 2,600 foot elevation gain/drop.
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 13.3 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview :  This guide is rated difficult simply because of its elevation variation and total distance. I call it the Diego Challenge. After my ... more »

Tips:  If using the phone App: Go online for web links to maps & resources, trail video, and 360º panorama interactive photos.... more »

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Points of Interest

1. The Entrance trail heads

Park at the entrance trail head - GPS navigation to parking area is 47.88802, -117.12548

2. Trail 110 - incline of trail - FYI

FYI: non-hikers... I see a lot of people visiting Mount Spokane stop at this first trail head, walk a 1/4 of a mile up the trail and turn around. This is one of the steepest trail sections on the mountain!!! If you are looking for a nice casual trail, continue driving up to the Lower Loop Road Parking lot, then take the trail in there. Which... More

3. Nice forest canopy

After the 1/2 mile "climb," you will happily indulge in a relatively even elevation gain for the next two miles. This area reminds you of old growth forest and probably is. Its a nice section of trail that sets a good pace for the rest of the hike. If you look to your left, you will (through the trees) see to top of Mt. Kit Carson, the ultimate... More

4. Great picnic area

This is one of the best areas on Mount Spokane. I am always surprised that only occasionally are there people picnicking at the tables in this area. Its great for families with kids.

For those not up for the 13.3 mile Diego Challenge, you can park at the Lower Loop Road Parking area and join the hike from here. This is actually the path most... More

5. The long climb

In this area you start realizing how much elevation gain you have made. Its nice trails, some streams to cross. You come across one trail junction, take the upper trail, keep going on Trail 110.

This is a dangerous area for mountain bikers, its one of their favorite trails to ride. My advice, if you have a dog or kids along, stand your... More

6. The forest opening up

As you reach toward the top and Saddle Junction, the forest starts to open up. You notice different plant life. You can start breathing a sigh of relief, as the hike's major elevation climb is coming to a close. However, there's still some 9 miles to go :)

7. The CCC Cabin

This is off the hike, but worth noting - you are close to the CCC Cabin (a warming hut for winter users).

If you have encountered inclement weather, need a serious break or have someone in your party that is not going to make the whole Diego Challenge, retreat to the CCC Cabin. It is easily accessible to the North Summit Road.

8. Saddle Junction - Trail numbers

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You have reached the Saddle Junction, end of the major elevation gain. Now your rewarded with a revitalizing mile stroll down the North Mt. Kit Carson Loop Road. As you can see in the photo, follow Diego.

Note about the trail numbers on Mount Spokane. They were updated/changed I believe in 2011. As such, some older maps... More

9. Valley's to the north

This is a great view of the valley's to the north of Mt. Spokane State Park. Click the links for a 360º interactive panorama and a You Tube video. Well worth taking you time to stop and figure out different far away areas, as this is one of the only spots in the Park that you can see some areas.

Ahead, as you start on Trail 130 to Day Mountain... More

10. Day Mountain

Day Mountain is probably my favorite peak at Mount Spokane. It is by far the most picturesque and a great place to stop for lunch.

11. Meadows

Coming off Day Mountain, the trails takes you through some beautiful mountain meadows. Well worth slowing down and reflecting on life and the world.

12. Mt. Kit Carson

As you start going up on Mt. Kit Carson, you hit some more serious elevation gain. If its hot, its advisable to stop and catch your breath - still a long hike back down :)

13. Trail number change!!!

Older maps will show this as Trail 115, but it is now Trail 140. A fairly new trail, really nice. The trail does however drop you down and take you further west than you feel you should be. Ultimately, you suddenly turn up at Smith's Gap.

14. Smith's Gap

You suddenly drop into Smith's Gap. Its an interesting interchange, but 50 feet down the road, you are back to it, this time on Trail 100 - last section of uphill elevation gain!!!

15. Trail 100

This section of Trail 100 is little used - too much of a climb on either end for casual hikers and mountain bikers. It is nice, and drops you down on top of the great picnic area listed in marker 4 of this guide. Your last stream crossing is also here, this one there is no option but to step into the water.

16. Last view of Mt. Kit Carson

On your way down, you can catch a glance of Mt. Kit Carson though the trees and revel in your accomplishment. Beware though, its 2 miles down from the great picnic area and the last 1/2 mile is at a serious elevation drop - go slow, your feet will be tired.

If you are lucky, the Mt. Spokane Bear Creek Lodge will have their beer garden open - a... More