Saturday, November 18, 2006

Private Property

I took a ride out to Liberty Lake yesterday to check out some of the small gray lines that are shown on my Spokane County map. I search out the small gray lines, which are dirt roads. And even better: small gray dotted lines, which are trails or just super-old roads. I enjoy doing long rides that include paved back roads, dirt roads, and if possible, some trail riding.
So, according to my map, there is a single gray small line that feeds into the Liberty Lake Regional Park at the northwest corner of the park. The gray lines work through the park and pop you out near Mica peak. Sounds like a perfect ride to me. I know you can access the LLRP by riding around the east side of Liberty Lake and going into the proper entrance to the park. But, I've already ridden about 20 miles by the time I get to Liberty Lake, and the map tells me there is a way around the west side. So, if it's there, then I want to find it.

As I had suspected, Liberty Lake has grown quite a bit since my grandmother rented a place on the lake out there about 20 years ago. Anything small and quaint appears to have been replaced by big and blingly. So, as I travel further southward, on the west end of the lake, I am increasingly wary of what I might find at the small gray lines that supposedly lie ahead.

Sure enough, the closer I get to the LLRP, the more "Private Property" and "No Trespassing" signs I see. The road ends at someone's "ranch". Errg. Of course I have no way of knowing if a public easement runs through the ranch's property to the road on the other side. And there is no way I'm going to ride through the "ranch's" property to find out.

My sense is that the owners of the "ranch" just put a "No Trespassing" sign up and were never questioned about it, thereby shutting off the only western road access to LLRP. I could be wrong. Maybe the right of way was never public. Maybe they tried to let folks respectfully cross their land to reach LLRP and they were burned by jerks tearing things up and leaving trash. I don't know.

I've made this mental note before; once again: I want to find an authority in Spokane County that I can get quick answers from. How can I find out if there is a right-of-way here?

I see this kind of stuff all the time as I search out my small gray lines. I've learned that "Roads" are always public, and "Lanes" are always private. So, "No Trespassing" signs posted on a "Road" can be ignored. I know that landowners routinely put up fences and signs on adjacent property or public right-of-ways when they want keep people out. Seeing some of the dumping and trash in the "gray line" areas: who can blame the landowners for taking matters into their own hands?

Sometimes I trespass, but I don't today. There are three opportunities that look really tempting. The most tempting is the one I take a picture of, above. Another one is right by the "ranch:" a single track trail meandering up the side of the mountain. Instead, I go down to the marsh and attempt to find a way into the park at the elevation of the lake. I end up on a beaver trail. Further along I am blocked at the pond Mr Beaver had built. It's too cold to go tromping around in the muck. In addition, the only viable trail out of the muck has multiple trees laying across it. The beaver has been busy.

I backtrack a few miles out of the south-west corner of the lake. I take a beautiful ride up Molter Road and have lunch looking over the Saltese Lake valley. From there I find Linke, a nice back road that is paved for a few miles then turns to dirt and warms me up with a gentle climb. Linke pops me out in Mica. From there, it's about 15 miles home -- a few muddy miles of which, I spend on "Summer Roads," which are like adding the perfect cup of coffee to a perfect chocolate dessert. A ride can be great without Summer Roads, but a great ride with Summer Roads is unforgettable. More on that later.


Anonymous said...

There is no right-of-way on the west side of the lake. It has been a topic of conversation here in the Liberty Lake area, but, unfortunately, no accommodation has been made.

I hope you will visit again!

John Speare said...

Hi Brian,
Are there plans to make accommodations for the west side of the lake? Either way, I'll visit again. There's a lot of space just south and east of LL that looks pretty interesting. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi John, just discovered your blog. There is, and has been, a way to ride, or walk, around the lake without trespassing. Email for info. It seems as if the council member needs to get himself a bike, or a pair of shoes, and discover all that Liberty Lake has to offer. I'd be more than happy to show you the route. Keep up the great posts.

Anonymous said...

i remember the trail that dropped off of the road just before you encounter the gate at the ranch. The first time a friend showed it to me i thought we were going to be shot by the "ranchers" at the end of the road. regardless, it dropped through some branches onto some singletrack then onto a horsetrail going across the broad flat inlet area. it meets up with better maintained LLRP trails as you make your way across. Sketchy, but it was always a fun ride.