John H. Shields Park Master Plan & Renovation

If the name isn't familiar to you, you can be sure you've seen, visited, or passed by John H. Shields Park. Also known as "Minnehaha Rocks," this County Park borders Upriver Drive near the City of Spokane's Upriver Dam. The Centennial Trail also passes this park on its 39-mile journey through Spokane County. While historically known as an easily accessed, centrally located climbing area with many long-established routes with varying difficulties, the popularity of this park has grown more recently as the area around it continues to become more urbanized and as the Beacon Hill Trail System has exploded in popularity. 

The western half of John H. Shields Park was originally acquired in 1987 with donated funds from and leadership by the Spokane Mountaineers. with park improvements on the eastern half being completed in the early-mid 1990s. Since that time, not much (physically) has changed other than the addition of parkland to the north and west, connecting the park legally to the Beacon Hill Trail System. The park currently consists of an unimproved gravel parking area on the west half of the park, a vault toilet, and a paved parking lot on the east half of the park. In addition, there are limited asphalt paths and treated timber steps. 

Many of these park improvements have degraded over time. In addition, the Department has experienced an uptick in negative activity at this park - to large degree illegal dumping. Based on conversations with user groups, this negative activity has also had the effect of discouraging positive public use of the park. Given these factors, Spokane County Parks, Recreation & Golf has moved forward with developing a draft conceptual master plan (See below) for the park to envision proposed enhancements and ready the project for funding as opportunities become available. The master plan's proposed changes to John H. Shields Park are largely driven by four primary goals:

  • Celebrate the park's role and history in the recreation community.
  • Enhance connections between the park, adjacent neighborhoods, and area park facilities / trails.
  • Create an inviting, function interface between the park's "front country" and "backcountry."
  • Serve the park's current user groups while looking to serve a wider demographic spectrum (e.g. youth)
  • Reduce negative activity at the park. 

Project Timeline:
Master Plan Development Phase - April 2021 - April 2022
Funding Phase (Proposed) - February 2022 - June 2023
Construction Phase (Proposed) - Fall 2023 - Spring 2024

Project Funding
The Master Plan component is being funded through Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). Construction funding (estimated at $800,000+) - TBD. Please note: $300,000 in REET funding is identified in 2023 as part of Spokane County Parks' six-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), but has not been officially committed. 

Project Documents:
Adaptive Climbing Access Pathway Site Plan (NEW - 4/15/22)
Bouldering Playground Renderings (NEW - 3/28/22)
Bouldering Playground Site Plan (NEW - 3/28/22)
Friends of the Centennial Trail Board Presentation (NEW - 3/28/22)
Conceptual Master Plan
Rendering 1 (Looking East)
Rendering 2 (Looking West)
Rendering 3 (Center View)
Beacon Hill / Shields Park Update Presentation (12/20/21)
Vicinity Map

Project Contact:
Paul Knowles, Park Planning, Development, & Real Estate Manager | pknowles@spokanecounty.org or (509) 477-4730.