photo and article by Matthew O. Stephens
DAVENPORT – As the weather begins to warm, and camping season opens, many great areas will be accessible through the season including Hawk Creek Campground, which lies about 20 minutes north of Davenport. Many consider it to be one of eastern Washington’s wonderful little hidden gems.
Hawk Creek Campground is an interesting area, and that is because of the geological landmarks, the history of the land, and because of the recreation activities available to visitors. Water levels may vary through the year, so different activities may be seasonally available.
A little over an hour drive from Spokane to find this natural gem in the hills. Hiking is available year-round, although visitors should certainly consider road conditions before visiting in the winter.
When visitors arrive in the first part of the campground, they can find a nice day use area with full waterfall access. The pleasant views are accentuated by the sound of the waterfall cascading off of the cliff to the rocks below. This waterfall makes a great spot for scenic photos as well. There are also areas available to sit and have a nice picnic before hitting the hiking trails, or save your lunch for one of the great views along the way.
This area also provides over 20 camping spots that are open year round, and a pay station for anyone planning on extended stays. Campers and hikers alike can expect to see wildlife such as deer, coyote, or even the occasional moose wander through the campground. In the hotter summer months, snakes can also be found along the trails and bushes. To the skies, visitors can find red tailed hawks and bald eagles searching the water below for fish.
If visitors want to explore further, they can drive around a short road to another connected parking lot that presents access to a large cliff. Other hiking trails open up into lakeside views as hikers and bikers make their way west along the developed pathways.
Some of these trails can be quite lengthy at close to five miles to complete the marked trail, so be sure to pack extra water and snacks. Also be sure to pack out anything that is packed in to keep our natural areas clean.
People can keep trekking along the ridge for an amazing view, and at certain times folks might be able to even make it out to the Columbia. About five to six miles north is the confluence of the Spokane and Columbia Rivers, which is an area people may be able to visit in the same day if planned accordingly.
Hikers early in the season will find good beach access as well, but that access decreases as the water level increases through Spring. The best part about hiking during the low water season is the fact that adventurers can see more of the geology of the region as they venture over the beach.
The water tends to be at it’s highest levels in June and early July, and that’s when fisherman can expect to catch rainbow trout, walleye, and smallmouth bass among a couple other species.
With it now being Spring, water levels should begin to rise, and boat access will be available. The increasing water level tends to make for a more lively fishing experience as well, as fisherman can drop into the water at the parking lot and float westward through a short channel opening into a body of water connecting to the Columbia River.
Looking uphill from that same parking lot, a massive cave is visible. The hike from there is not a super long hike, and there are a few game trails to follow. However, the trek is a relatively steep grade, and there are some loose rocks along the path, so safety precautions are certainly encouraged. This part of the trail system is definitively the most difficult spot in the Hawk Creek Trail system.
Once hikers reach the cave the view is spectacular though, and what could be better than having lunch in a cave overlooking an expansive view of the adjacent river.
The campground is pretty easy to find through most GPS accessories, but the route from Spokane is easy to follow as well.
The most direct route will take drivers out I-90 to route 2 and then through Airway Heights all the way to Davenport. Then turn onto Washington Highway 25 heading northbound. After about three miles, drivers will turn left on Tickle Hills Road. Continue along Tickle Hills until it turns into Hawk Creek Road. Follow that road until it crosses Miles Creston Road, and the campground and parking areas are at the end of that road.
Whether staying for a couple hours to have a nice family day trip or to camp under the stars while listening to the waterfall, the Hawk Creek Campground and surrounding area is sure to have something for anyone, and again is just 20 minutes north of Davenport near Seven Bays.