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Visitors to Northeast Washington can find a lakeside paradise at Silver Lake. Only 20 minutes southwest of Spokane, Silver Lake offers nearly 500 acres of boating, swimming and fishing fun for the lucky vacationer who chooses this destination. This proximity to both Spokane and Medical Lake makes Silver Lake an ideal place to spend a relaxing weekend or a full week on the water. Never far from city services, the lake offers several campgrounds and resorts geared specifically to the visiting vacationer. The lake's attractive vistas are not lost on the increasing numbers of property owners who have purchased full-time residences along the east side of the lake: Silver Lake's popularity is increasing by leaps and bounds.
Silver Lake, along with Medical Lake and the many other lakes found locally, is a natural lake resulting from past glacial actions. Best known as a premier trout fishing lake, Silver Lake is popular for boating, sailing, swimming, wake-boarding, canoeing and kayaking. The shoreline is shaded by stately pines, making one forget they are close to the city instead of at a far-distant wilderness campsite. Many visitors return year after year to a favorite resort or campground. The lake is close to Fairchild Air Force Base, making it a favorite recreation spot for the families of personnel stationed at the base.
A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife boat launch occupies a corner of the northeastern shore. The facility was recently improved and a fishing pier and dock added to offer more space for shore fishing. Although known as prime brown trout, German trout and rainbow trout waters, Silver Lake also offers anglers largemouth bass, crappie, tiger muskie, smallmouth bass, bluegill and perch, along with rough fish such as bullheads and tench. Boats can be rented from several of the resorts along the lakefront. The lake usually does not freeze reliably enough to be useful for ice fishing, but is open for fishing year-round.
In addition to several commercial resorts and campgrounds along Silver Lake's shoreline, a church camp on the west side of the lake provides over 300 acres of recreation and water fun during scheduled children's camp week and adult retreats. The far northern shoreline of Silver Lake is divided from North Silver Lake by West Medical Lakes-4 Lakes Road. The lake was originally all one large lake until the road was built. Now, North Silver Lake is entirely private and can only be publicly accessed along the road right-of-way; there is no boat navigation between the two water bodies.
Nearby Medical Lake holds all necessary services and is a well-known recreational destination in its own right. The town of Medical Lake includes Medical Lake itself, along with nearby West Medical Lake and several smaller lakes. Here Silver Lake visitors can find small-scale shopping, medical services, movie theaters, restaurants and the inevitable fast food establishments. Although Medical Lake is only about two miles from Silver Lake and has annexed an area extending to the shore, Medical Lake does not maintain any recreational facilities on Silver Lake. Instead, Medical Lake provides a variety of parks and trails within the town.
Silver Lake is not a part of the Medical Lake community, but instead falls under the jurisdiction of Cheney, five miles to the south. The area falls within western Spokane County in an area popularly known as West Plains. Silver Lake is one of the four lakes that comprise what is referred to as the Four Lakes community. Tiny Four Lakes lies about three miles east of Silver Lake and provides limited services. Cheney, a few miles south of the lake, offers a variety of parks, a historical walking tour and a full range of services. Whereas Medical Lake developed based on the minerals mined from Medical Lake itself, Cheney developed as a railroad, farming and commerce town, so the two evolved quite differently.
Lakes in the West Plains area and farther south were created by sudden and extreme flooding when a gravel dam broke at huge, pre-historic Lake Missoula. The sudden flood sent torrents of trapped water across the plains, gouging out wide, broad canyons in its wake. The resulting landscape has an extra-terrestrial appearance in many places, with evidence of now-dry falls hundreds of feet in height, canyons that don't relate to the streams flowing across their floors, and a series of lakes, ponds and wetlands that form a waterfowl haven immediately west of the mountains. Called the 'Channeled Scablands', the landscape is unique and provides interesting geological features that delight geologists and photographers alike.
One location near Cheney that is open for public viewing is the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. This series of wetlands, trails and ponds show how flooding eroded volcanic deposits to form the wetland areas that are home to deer, elk, moose, river otter, badger, coyote, a great blue heron rookery and a breeding population of trumpeter swans. The Visitor Center is located about 20 miles south of Silver Lake, southwest of Cheney. Certain areas are closed to the public during some seasons to provide undisturbed breeding areas for protected wildlife. The refuge contains many trails for hiking, mountain biking and auto touring.
Getting to Silver Lake isn't hard at all: the lake is only a mile or so north of Interstate 90 west of Spokane. Vacation rentals can be located in both Silver Lake and Medical Lake, often on the waterfront. The area is well-supplied with modern hotels and motels; the resorts and campgrounds are eager to welcome visitors. Reservations are recommended on busy holiday weeks, however, as local popularity often limits available space. Campgrounds can accommodate both tent campers and recreational vehicles. Those in the market to purchase property will find real estate available near the lakeshore. Condos and townhouses are in the planning stages on the east shore and should be available soon. So plan your first visit to Silver Lake today. You'll soon find yourself a repeat visitor; one weekend is all it will take to make you fall in love.
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