A walk along Lacamas Lake

It was a gray day, but you can get an idea of the view of the lake from this photo. Unfortunately, we did not encounter any areas where there were clear views of the lake.

This week we returned to Camas to look for a trail we failed to find a few months ago. We have hiked many times around Round Lake at Lacamas Creek Park, but I thought I had read about a trail starting from across the road. However, one day when we tried to find it, we gave up too soon. This time we found it, a long, well-kept trail that runs along Lacamas Lake.

This trail is not so scenic until you get in about a quarter mile, then its scenic value begins to increase, starting from a well-kept park to a more wooded area with a few minor hills. All of it runs along the lake, which also becomes prettier as it emerges from town.

Lacamas Lake Heritage Trail

Camas Heritage Park, Camas, Washington

Distance: 7.1 miles in and out (we went about 3)

Difficulty: easy peasy

Panting stops: 0

Elevation changes: 239 feet

Here is a look at the trail after it becomes a cinder trail but as it is going into the woods.

I understand that this trail leads to waterfalls. We had not been out hiking for a long time and were also pressed for time, so we were not able to go that far. However, the trail was nice, beginning as an asphalt path but quickly turning to cinder, and well kept. It was moderately populated on a gray day, but I understand it can be quite crowded.

The path begins at the northwestern edge of a small parking area in a groomed park and then continues into the woods along the lake. It becomes more wooded with a cliff alongside it, and you can glimpse houses up above the trail. At first, the lake itself is not very scenic, because a highway runs along the other side, but eventually you see countryside and hills.

The hike itself is very easy because the trail is so well kept that there are no roots or stones to worry about. There are a few mild inclines, and that’s about it as far as we went.

How to get there

From Battle Ground

Take WA-503 south from Battle Ground to Padden Parkway and turn left. Follow the signs for WA-500 until you get to NE Everett Street in Camas. Continue down NE Everett until you see two lakes, one on each side of the road. Turn right on NW Lake Road. The entrance to the park is the second right.

From Vancouver

Take WA-14 east from Vancouver toward Camas. Take Exit 12 toward Camas on NW 6th Avenue. Turn left on NE Garfield Street. Turn left again on NE 14th Street. In two blocks turn right on NE Everett Street, which is also WA-500. Follow NE Everett Street until you see two lakes, one on each side of the road. Turn right on NW Lake Road. The entrance to the park is the second right.

Parking and facilities

The park has a large parking lot for about 50 cars. It has a boat launch, restrooms, picnic areas, and a playground. In appearance, the park looks very small, but it contains the 3.5-mile hiking trail. Most of the facilities are located near the parking lot, but along the trail are also fishing docks.

Dogs are allowed on leash, and bikes are also allowed.

A walk in the woods toward Larch Mountain

This photo shows the angle that the path maintains for practically the whole hike, just slightly upward on the way out and downward on the way back. Here we were just starting out, in the lightly wooded area.

This week’s hike was the perfect combination for my family, because it gave me a workout without exhausting me, while to my family it was a walk in the woods. That was because the trail, through light and then heavier forest dotted with meadows, was uphill all the way out but at a mild angle of maybe 10 to 20 degrees. I felt that this hike was about perfect for me, even though it lacked some of the spectacular views afforded by the more difficult hikes, because of its lower elevation. Still, it was in deserted, quiet woods high above Grouse Creek. We did not go all the way to Larch Mountain, but when I looked at the grade and remaining distance, I was confident that I could make it all the way up to the beautiful views at another time.

Tarbell Trail toward Larch Mountain

Yacolt Burn State Park, Yacolt Washington

Distance: we went about four miles in and out (total is 5.1)

Difficulty: easy to middling

Panting stops: 3 o 4

Elevation changes: about 750 feet as far as we went (1167 total)

We parked at the Yacolt Burn trailhead and found the Tarbell trail at the front right corner of the parking lot. The trail goes down a short, steep declivity and then it divides. If you take the trail to the left, you’ll end up on a portion of the Tarbell trail that is mostly a bike trail now and has been modified to include bike ramps and other obstacles, so I find is no longer an enjoyable hiking trail. We took the path to the right.

The path goes steadily upward at a moderate angle through lightly forested areas and meadows until it reaches a more densely forested area. In the dense forests, you can see Grouse Creek below and there are a few small waterfalls. The path is a little stony until you reach the denser forest, when it becomes mostly forest floor. It had rained the day before, so there were muddy patches, but they were easily got around.

The day was gloomy and cold, but it was refreshing and kept us from getting hot. We saw just one biker on the path. We turned around because the kids wanted to, but I think if we had known how close we were to the top of Larch Mountain, we would have tried to go all the way. We were probably within 0.6 or 0.7 of a mile from the top.

Overall, I found it a lovely hike with just the right amount of exertion for me and a lot easier for my family members, who are in better shape.

How to get there

From Yacolt, Washington

Take N Railroad Avenue south out of Yacolt. Turn left on NE Sunset Falls Road just before Railroad Avenue turns right and becomes Lucia Falls Road. After two miles, turn right on NE Dole Valley Road. Take Dole Valley Road out about 4.5 miles. The road will change from paved to gravel. The trailhead is on your left just after you pass the sign for the Coldwater Creek campground.

From Vancouver, Washington

Take WA 503 north past Battle Ground for almost six miles. Turn right on NE Rock Creek Road, which becomes NE Lucia Falls Road. Lucia Falls Road ends where it turns north and becomes N Railroad Avenue. Turn onto N Railroad Avenue and almost immediately after, turn right on NE Sunset Falls Road. After two miles, turn right on NE Dole Valley Road. Take Dole Valley Road out about 4.5 miles. The road will change from paved to gravel. The trailhead is on your left just after you pass the sign for the Coldwater Creek campground.

Parking and Amenities

There is a parking lot at the trailhead for about 20 cars. There are also two restrooms. This trail begins next to the road on the same side of the road as the parking lot and is clearly marked Tarbell Trail.

To the marsh and back

My sister has been telling me about a hike to Goat Marsh, up in the Mt. St. Helens Monument area, but she said that there was one spot that was too hard for me, a steep ascent up a wash-out that she said she had to crawl up. However, a month or so ago, she took my brother and sister-in-law, and they discovered a way around the wash-out. So, last Sunday, on a cold but sunny day, my sister and I went to Goat Marsh.

Here is the first body of water of Goat Marsh Lake. In the foreground are frozen ice crystals and on this cold day the marsh was frozen, although I’m not sure you can tell from this picture. If you take the trail around the lake, you end up with a view of Mt. St. Helens, I’m told. There is a second, larger body of water, but we didn’t get that far.

With the long cut, this is an easy hike that ends up at the marsh, a protected scientific area. We went during elk season, and the national forest was full of elk hunters (and mushroom hunters), but we felt safe in this area and only ran into one other party. We could hear guns off in the distance.

Goat Marsh Trail

Mt. St. Helens Volcanic Monument near Cougar, Washington

Distance: 2.4 miles in and out

Difficulty: easy

Panting stops: 1 or 2

Elevation changes: 275 feet

Parking at a barely noticeable slot for two cars, we headed up a continuation of the Kalama Ski Trail. The trail at this point is an easy downhill, fairly wide and not rough. However, note that this first part is downhill all the way, so that means, of course, that the end of the hike is uphill, but at a relatively easy slope.

I’m guessing about a quarter mile down the trail, the Kalama Ski Trail goes off to the left while the Goat Marsh trail goes straight. The ski trail is subtle, though, so you have to pay attention. Take that trail to avoid having to climb up the steep wash-out (and it really is steep and high—we went and looked at it). Just a short way down that trail, there is a sign that points back sharply to the right to Goat Marsh or to the left to continue the Kalama Ski Trail. Go right.

The trail goes easily along through forest of lodgepole pine and some old growth mostly of noble fir until you get to a little crease of a wash-out. I think this might be a continuation of the big wash-out farther up. It is a steep descent but only of a couple of feet and then steep back up, so easy enough to get over. It just is a place to be aware of your footing. It was at that point that I realized the ground was frozen solid. We were there on a cold day, with temperatures in the 30’s in October. This area is probably muddy at other times.

After you get across this cut and walk a bit further on, you intersect with the Goat Marsh trail, and if you go back along it, you see a very deep slope that’s the steep climb that you avoided. Turn back up the trail, which continues through the forest to the wooden fence indicating the Goat Marsh scientific study area. In the Goat Marsh be sure to stay on the trail (well, we went off just to go up to the edge of the marsh—I suppose technically we weren’t supposed to do that). However, I saw no signs that my dog wasn’t allowed or even that he had to be on a leash. Since he always stays on the trail, we let him off leash.

Until you get to the first lake, the trail goes through a beautiful forest area, and then it opens up with a view of the mountains across the marsh. None of it is difficult. Because I dropped my dog’s leash in the marsh area and had to turn around and go back to it, we didn’t end up going farther, but my sister told me that trail just comes to an end after you go through a bit more difficult areas, whereas another hiking page says there’s another lake further on. We had intended to walk around the marsh for a view of Mt. St. Helens, but we decided to turn back because my sister was cold.

How to get there

From Battle Ground or farther south

Take WA-503 north toward Cougar. About 3/4-1 mile after you pass Yale Park on the right, take National Forest Road 81 on the left. Follow NR 81/8100 back quite a while past Lake Merwin and into the Gifford Pinchot Forest and then into the Mt. St. Helens Monument. When you get to the intersection of 8100 and 8123, where there is a sign pointing you toward Blue Lake Trailhead to the left, take 8123 to the left. This is a rough road. There is a small pull-out on the left side of the road, so keep your eyes out. This is the Goat Marsh trailhead.

From Woodland or farther north

Take I-5 south to the Woodland exit for WA-503. Take WA-503 toward Cougar. About 3/4-1 mile after you pass Yale Park on the right, take National Forest Road 81 on the left. Follow NR 81/8100 back quite a while past Lake Merwin and into the Gifford Pinchot Forest and then into the Mt. St. Helens Monument. When you get to the intersection of 8100 and 8123, where there is a sign pointing you toward Blue Lake Trailhead to the left, take 8123 to the left. This is a rough road. There is a small pull-out on the left side of the road, so keep your eyes out. This is the Goat Marsh trailhead.

Parking and facilities

The pull-out for two cars at the trailhead is the only facility. The gate to the 8100 road is closed in the winter, so be sure not to go too late. Dogs seem to be allowed. Horses are allowed on the Kalama Ski Trail but not in the Goat Marsh, nor are any vehicles. Only hikers are allowed there.

Back to Lacamas Park

Round Lake is one of the two lakes that intersect at Lacamas Park.

Our latest hike was quite a bit more difficult. Although we have hiked several times in Lacamas Park since I first wrote it up, we have never before tried the Camas Loop. This loop provides access to camas lilies in spring and is a side trail in the park. Unfortunately, I neglected to take pictures of the new loop so am going to have to make do with pictures from our previous hikes at Lacamas.

Round Lake and Camas Loop trails

Lacamas Park, Camas, Washington

Difficulty: tougher

Panting stops: 7 to 10

Distance: about 2.5 miles (more than 3 if we had followed our original plan

Elevation changes: 374 feet

Here’s what the path looks like around Round Lake.

As I mentioned in my previous post on this park, most of the hiking sites rate the paths in this park as easy, but I rated them as more difficult because they were certainly tough for me. The Round Lake trail, with which you begin this hike, is certainly easy, a nice, wide, well-kept trail that circles the lake with just a few changes in elevation.

Once you cross over the dam, bypass the first path to the right, which goes to Pothole Falls, and take the Lower Falls trail to the right. We didn’t stay on that for long, though, just long enough to cross over to a continuation of the main path, which is the next path on the left. (Unfortunately, the paths on the map are not all named, and the map appears only sporadically within the park, which can lead to confusion.) This path stays fairly level and wide as it crosses a good deal of the park.

We took the second entrance to the Camas Loop trail with the idea of looping around counterclockwise and then taking the Round Lake trail back. Although the entire loop trail is only 0.7 miles long, the terrain got considerably rougher almost immediately. This trail is a narrow one that goes steadily upward until you reach some rugged rock outcrops that you have to walk up. These are a little difficult, and we saw that the site had become a popular mountain biking trail, except one or two of the riders we saw had to walk their bikes down this outcrop.

The trail is less difficult for a while, but it continues steadily upward until you find yourself high above the main trail, with a view of it below. We encountered trails branching off in quite a few places, including one that directed us into the lily fields, but since it was not lily season, we continued on what seemed like the main loop. What goes up must come down, however, and that is the part I found most difficult. At one part, because I brought my dog and hence only one of my hiking poles, my hiking partner had to give me one of her poles and I had to let go of the dog and carefully step down, each step at her direction. I am not an accomplished hiker, so this part felt more like rock climbing. Finally, we took what looked like a short cut down the hill to the main trail, and this was steep.

When we arrived back at the main trail, we encountered another walker, who told us that the way to our right was a lot shorter and we could use it to get more quickly to our cars, because I, at least, probably looked exhausted, and I was soaking in sweat from the effort, even though it was not a hot day. To the left on the main path there was an immediate hill, and we knew it was a mile or two back that way, so we went right and ended up coming out of the park after a short distance and a small hill, walking along the street and around the corner, and taking the bridge back to the parking lot. I would like to see the lilies sometime but not until I am in better shape!

How to get there

From Battle Ground

Take WA-503 south from Battle Ground to Padden Parkway and turn left. Follow the signs for WA-500 until you get to NE Everett Street in Camas. Continue down NE Everett until you see two lakes, one on each side of the road. The park entrance is on your left.

From Vancouver

Take WA-14 east from Vancouver toward Camas. Take Exit 12 toward Camas on NW 6th Avenue. Turn left on NE Garfield Street. Turn left again on NE 14th Street. In two blocks turn right on NE Everett Street, which is also WA-500. Follow NE Everett Street until you see two lakes, one on each side of the road. The park entrance is on your right.

Parking and facilities

There is a large parking lot at the park for about 30 or 40 cars. The park has restrooms and porta-potties at the entrance, a playscape, picnic tables, and small beaches, as well as many benches along the main path.

A lunar landscape

Here was our view of Mt. St. Helens from the middle of the lava fields. You can just barely see my sister off to the left. I thought I had her, but she moved.

We returned to the shoulders of Mt. St. Helens this week with a hike on 1900-year-old lava fields. This hike took us through the lava fields and into a lodgepole pine forest. The footing is tricky in parts, but it is overall a hike that is not difficult, at least as far as we went. The scenery is absolutely spectacular.

Be prepared for a steep but short hike up to the lava fields and a few areas of rough footing. Apparently the trail becomes more difficult as it goes on, but we only went down it about a mile, for a fairly easy two-mile hike.

Toutle Trail from Red Rocks Pass trailhead

Mt. St. Helens Volcanic Monument near Cougar, WA

Distance: the trail is about 7 miles in and out, but we went 2 miles

Difficulty: middling

Panting stops: 5 or 6

Elevation changes: about 80 feet

I also couldn’t find this hike listed on any hiking websites, so my information is a little more sketchy than usual. Most people using this trailhead are going to either Red Rocks Pass, which is across the road from this hike, or to Butte Camp up on Mt. St. Helens.

Here is a look at the lava fields looking toward Cinnamon Peak. The color of the lava is actually more black than gray, but this is the only photo I took that reflects that.

We hiked up a short but steep incline from the trailhead (on the same side of the road as the parking) up onto the lava fields, where the path became more level. Although there are a few places on the lava fields where the footing is tricky, for the most part the path is easy, with just a few rocks in the middle of it. If you look at my photo at the top of this post, the trail is visible to the left of the photo.

Views from the lava fields of Mt. St. Helens, ahead, Cinnamon Peak behind, and the lava fields themselves are gorgeous. The little knob off the side of Mt. St. Helens is where Butte Camp is located, so you can see that would be a quite difficult hike and well above my abilities at this point.

After the lava fields, we entered a lodgepole pine forest, walking on a mild slope downward, so that coming back is a little more difficult. The trail forks to go to Butte Camp. That path is forward, indicated by a post, and the trail we took goes off to the left. The path through the forest is quite easy for that first mile, but we stopped just before a steepish canyon where it becomes more difficult.

How to get there

From Vancouver

Take WA-503 north through Cougar, Washington. After passing through Cougar, the highway becomes Rd. 90. Keep driving on Rd. 90 until you are up next to the Swift Reservoir. Turn left on NF 83 at the sign for Ape Caves. Pass the entrance to the road to Ape Caves and follow the signs for Red Rocks Pass, turning left on NF 81. The trailhead is on your right a little less than three miles later.

From Seattle

From I-5, take the WA-503 exit from Woodland and go in the direction of Cougar. After passing through Cougar, the highway becomes Rd. 90. Keep driving on Rd. 90 until you are up next to the Swift Reservoir. Turn left on NF 83 at the sign for Ape Caves. Pass the entrance to the road to Ape Caves and follow the signs for Red Rocks Pass, turning left on NF 81. The trailhead is on your right a little less than three miles later.

Parking and Facilities

There is parking for about five or six cars next to the trailhead. There are no other facilities.

 

On the shoulders of Mt. St. Helens

A little pool with sandy beaches in the river that runs beside this trail for a while. The kids caught small frogs and let them go. This pool was beside the path on the left toward the beginning of the hike.

Our wanderings took us to a different area of the Mt. St. Helens Monument this week, at least it was different for me. We took a short hike on part of the Blue Lake Horse Trail and then took the Toutle Trail toward McClure Lake. When we came back, we took a side jaunt on the Toutle Trail going the other direction along the Kalama River toward Kalama Horse Camp. Our day included varied terrains: forest walks with beautiful views of the river (more creek-like in this area) and Mt. St. Helens followed by a sandy walk along the river. The terrain varied from forest duff to rougher stony areas to mud and sand, but we were in among some old growth forest of huge firs and western pine.

Blue Lake Horse Trail to the Toutle Trail

Mt. St. Helens Volcanic Monument

Distance: about 4 miles with our side trip, but you can take the Toutle Trail for miles if you want to

Difficulty: Easy to middling as far as we went

Panting stops: 1 or 2

Elevations changes: about 275 feet

Here’s the trail at the juncture that takes you toward Toutle Trail on the left. (You can see the sign at the bottom left.) Although the Horse Trail ahead looks more major than the trail to the left, not too far ahead it peters out. You can get some idea of the mountain ahead of us from this glimpse through the forest.

Because we couldn’t find this hike listed on any apps or web sites, my information for it is sketchier than usual. We started out, not at a trailhead, but at a two-car parking spot where the Blue Lake Horse Trail crosses over National Forest Road 81. At that point, the trail looks a little like a logging road. It is gravel and trends down at just a slight angle. Not too far up the trail on the right, we stopped for a few minutes at the little pool in the river that is deep enough to have a clear blue spot. We were in sight of the sign that points you toward the Toutle Trail and McClure Lake.

We hiked the Toutle Trail until we thought we had reached McClure Lake, which seems to be seasonal or occasional, and was not there on that summer August day, and then we continued a little above it. The trail is mostly flat for a while and is varied from forest duff to mud to rocky portions that are a little rough. At the area of the lake, it begins winding upward at a steeperangle. We decided to turn around once we saw that it was continuing to go up.

The trail follows the Kalama River, which at this point appears to be a pleasant creek, and we picked wild huckleberries, the kids played on a huge fallen tree that crossed the river, and someone at a little campsite further on had made a teetertotter. It was lovely country, and as we continued along we caught a great glimpse of Mt. St. Helens across the river.

On the way back, once we returned to the Blue Lake Horse Trail, the Toutle Trail continued off to the left on the other side of the river. We followed it a way toward the Kalama Horse Camp. This trail was flat and sandy. We decided we would return and take it all the way to the Horse Camp at some time.

How to get there

From Battle Ground or Vancouver

Take WA-503 north toward Cougar. About 3/4-1 mile after you pass Yale Park on the right, take National Forest Road 81 on the left. Follow NR 81/8100 back quite a while into the Gifford Pinchot Forest and then into the Mt. St. Helens Monument. When you get to the intersection of 81 and 8123, where there is a sign pointing you toward Blue Lake Trailhead to the left, take 81 to the right. Shortly after taking that turn, turn into a parking space on the right with two parking places. This is the juncture of Blue Lake Horse Trail and 81. To get to the Toutle Trail, just walk forward on the trail from there.

From Seattle

Take I-5 south to the Woodland exit for WA-503. Take WA-503 toward Cougar. About 3/4-1 mile after you pass Yale Park on the right, take National Forest Road 81 on the left. Follow NR 81/8100 back quite a while into the Gifford Pinchot Forest and then into the Mt. St. Helens Monument. When you get to the intersection of 81 and 8123, where there is a sign pointing you toward Blue Lake Trailhead to the left, take 81 to the right. Shortly after taking that turn, turn into a parking space on the right with two parking places. This is the juncture of Blue Lake Horse Trail and 81. To get to the Toutle Trail, just walk forward on the trail from there.

Parking and facilities

There is parking space for two cars along 81. There are no other facilities, although there are informal camping sites all along the trail.

 

Logging road with great views

On the way up is this view of Mt. St. Helens on the left and Mt. Adams on the right. You can also see what the road looks like. This is looking back along the road that we’ve already traveled.

This week, my sister, great nephew, and I walked up a logging road and then took a short path to the top of Dunegan Mountain. I didn’t find this hike on any hiking sites or on AllTrails. It is on DNR land behind a gate, but we saw no No Trespassing signs. This is a lovely hike. It is uphill all the way but not too strenuous. A detour up a woodland path gets you to the top of the mountain, which has views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Yacolt Mountain, and an obstructed view of Mt. Adams (although you can see slightly better views of Mt. Adams on the way up). We went on a sunny day. Although the forest has been logged (so bring your hat!), we also passed through shaded areas, because one side of the road is protected from logging.

Dunegan Mountain Logging Road

DNR Land near Amboy, Washington

Distance: about 2.5 miles

Difficulty: moderate

Panting stops: 5-7

Elevation changes: 300-400 feet

My great nephew having a socially distanced lunch at the top of the mountain. Mt. Hood is that tiny white dot to the right of his head above the smaller mountains. It looks much bigger in person. Yacolt Prairie is beneath him. You can see a bit of it on the right.

Although Dunegan Mountain is 1760+ feet high, the Columbia Tie Road winds its way up it, so that by the time you park near the gate before the logging road, you are only about 300 or 400 feet from the top. The road is winding  and of gravel, with very big stones, the four-inch kind, in some places, so you have to be careful about your footing, especially on the way back down.

The road at first goes through logged territory that seems a little desolate, but as it climbs, which it does steadily but at a gentle angle, it emerges into forest on one side of the road with views of the Yacolt and Chelatchie Prairies and the surrounding big mountains. There are several good views of Mt. St. Helens and one or two of Mt. Adams on the way up. The trip is all uphill, but as it is not at a steep angle, I just needed to stop every once in a while to get my heart rate down.

Mt. St. Helens from the top of the Dunegan Mountain

Where the road makes a Y, go to the right both times. After the second Y, look for a faint trail on the right, marked by a cut log about four feet long, for a short cut to the top of the mountain. At the time I went, the trail was hard to see because it was overgrown. My sister, who went earlier in the year, said it was easier to see in the spring. Don’t worry if you miss this trail. You can still see good views ahead.

The short trail to the top goes through the woods and up some rocky territory, and is quite a bit steeper than the road. It look me longer, but I was able to go all the way up to the top. At the top is a grassy meadow, with really nice views of Mt. St. Helens, Yacolt Mountain, the prairies below, and Mt. Hood off in the distance. There is an obstructed view (behind trees) of Mt. Adams.

Once we came back down to the logging trail, we turned right to go on to the quarry at the end of the road. If you miss the woodland path, you can spend some time sitting on the rocks (or in my great nephew’s case, climbing them) and looking at a view that is almost as good. If you feel like clambering, there is a path up to the top from the quarry, but the woodland path is much easier. (My great niece and nephew found the woodland path by going down from the mountain after they clambered up to the top from the quarry.) If you missed the path in the first place and still want to try for it, it may be easier to see it on the way back, as it is just around the corner from the quarry. First, you’ll see a short path with some wooden barriers on it and farther on the cut log next to the woodland path.

The way back is downhill all the way but not steep, so it was easy, but I was tired from the effort of going uphill all the way, so I had a case of stumble foot. That’s why, especially if you’re clumsy like me, at least one stick is a good idea. Also a hat and plenty of water. I had my dog with me, so I only had one stick in case I needed to leash him, but having that stick was helpful.

How to get there

From Vancouver

Take WA-500 and then WA-503 north from Vancouver to Battle Ground. Once through Battle Ground, drive about 10 miles to Amboy. When WA-503 turns right next to Amboy Middle School, go straight on NE 221st Avenue. The road ends at NE Cedar Creek Road. Turn right. About two miles later, turn left on Columbia Tie Road. I couldn’t get a good measurement on this from Google Maps, but at about 1.5 miles, you will see Columbia Tie Pond Road on the left. You can park right across the road from it or you can turn right on the next unmarked road and park in front of the gate. This road is very narrow, so keep in mind that you will have to turn around to get out. Walk around the gate and start your hike.

From Portland or Seattle

Take I-5 north from Portland or south from Seattle to WA-502,, the Battle Ground exit. Turn left onto WA-503 in Battle Ground. Drive about 10 miles to Amboy. When WA-503 turns right next to Amboy Middle School, go straight on NE 221st Avenue. The road ends at NE Cedar Creek Road. Turn right. About two miles later, turn left on Columbia Tie Road. I couldn’t get a good measurement on this from Google Maps, but at about 1.5 miles, you will see Columbia Tie Pond Road on the left. You can park right across the road from it or you can turn right on the next unmarked road and park in front of the gate. This road is very narrow, so keep in mind that you will have to turn around to get out. Walk around the gate and start your hike.

Parking and facilities

There is room for one or two cars off Columbia Tie Road across from Columbia Tie Pond Road, or there is room on the unmarked road before the gate for two or three cars, but keep in mind it will be difficult to turn around.

There are no facilities. I took my dog and let him go off leash. There were no other people besides us on the road.

 

Revisiting Yale Lake

Last summer, I wrote up this post after a hike on the IP Logging Road along Yale Lake. Just this week, the state opened its parks back up, so my family and I were looking for a place that we could hike that would NOT be full of people. We decided to try walking the logging road again.

Although I have already written about this hike, we did something different this time, taking two side trips. My Fitbit was broken, so I could not track mileage and have no idea about elevation changes, but I thought I would write a post mostly about these side trips. We picked the right place to go, because we only encountered one couple on the trail and another couple in a kayak that landed at the sandy beach.

IP Logging Trail Side Trips

Yale Lake, Cougar, Washington

Distance: 7.3 miles to take the entire road, there and back; we did about 3 miles with our side trips

Difficulty: Easy

Panting stops: 0

Elevation changes: maybe 300 feet

Here are my dog, my sister, and my niece relaxing on our green beach along the Lewis River while we wait for the kids to play on a rock down the beach. It was peaceful.

We walked at least a mile along the IP Logging Trail before we spotted the first trail off to the right. I had brought my dog and was without my poles, but I was able to make the trip down the trail to a narrow green beach along the Lewis River before it goes into Yale Lake. The walk down was on a narrow dirt trail with a few small difficulties, but it was beautiful and green, and the beach was mossy and rocky. A bit farther down the shore was a large rock that the kids enjoyed playing on. It was a nice place to relax and perhaps to picnic at.

We returned to the logging road after combating great reluctance on the part of my great niece and nephew, who wanted to stay at the green beach. Not too much farther along the road, we encountered another side trail to the right. This one led down to a broad, sandy beach right across Yale Lake from Beaver Bay Park. The path down was a little more difficult. There was a fallen tree to get over or under and a rocky descent to the beach, but it was not especially difficult if you took care. The rocky descent was the hardest without my sticks, but I picked up a long piece of driftwood on the beach and using that was able to go up and down with little difficulty.

It was very windy that day, and at one point, those of us on the beach were blasted with sand. However, the beach was really pleasant, and the children and the dog, especially, were delighted. The children now want to return to the sandy beach with a picnic and don’t care that much about the green beach.

How to get there

From Portland or Vancouver

Get on I-5 going north and take Exit 21 for WA 503 toward Cougar. Drive east for 30 miles. About three miles after Cougar, after the Yale Dam, the next unmarked paved road on the right (at the Skamania County Line) is your turn. Cross the bridge and take the right branch of the Y toward a gate and the trailhead.

From Battle Ground

Take WA 503 northeast. When you get to the place where it branches, take the spur toward Cougar. About three miles after Cougar, after the Yale Dam, the next unmarked paved road on the right (at the Skamania County Line) is your turn. Cross the bridge and take the right branch of the Y toward a gate and the trailhead.

Parking and facilities

There is parking for a couple cars at the trailhead and for several more along the road leading to it. There are no other facilities. Dogs are allowed, I assume on a leash although there is no posting. I did not have mine on one, and nobody cared.

A beautiful day along the river

In the middle of the photo, you can just barely see Mt. Hood, but in actuality, it is very noticeable as you hike this trail.

I haven’t had a new hike to report in a while, but this last week we decided to hike the Columbia River Dike Trail, part of which we were on last fall at the end of our Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail at Steigerwald Lake Wildlife Refuge. This is an easy but beautiful hike, although part of it runs along an industrial area on the north side of the Columbia River. Mt. Hood shines over us on the entire hike.

Columbia River Dike Trail

Steamboat Landing, Washougal, Washington

Distance: Sources vary on this. I’ve seen everything from 6.2 to 7 miles, in and out. We went about 5.5 miles.

Difficulty: Easy peasy

Panting stops: 0

Elevation change: 30 feet

We parked our car at Steamboat Landing, but there is also parking at Captain William Clark Park and at other places along the trail, plus there are several accesses for walkers and bikers from downtown Washougal. At Steamboat Landing, you can take a detour to a floating dock and observation point. The path is paved, running alongside the Columbia River, and it has several access points to docks and beaches. At Captain William Clark Park there are some exhibits and a side trail to Cottonwood Beach, which was a camping spot for the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Although there are a few industrial sites at the beginning and middle of the path, eventually you leave that all behind. Further along the path is access to Steigerwald Lake Wildlife Refuge. All along the way, we saw lots of water birds. The hike ends at a gate where the path becomes private property.

This is a really nice easy hike, a pleasant place to be on a sunny day.

How to get there

From Vancouver

Take Washington Highway 14 east toward Camas and Washougal. In Washougal, you will see a roundabout with a sign pointing to Steamboat Landing. Take that exit off the roundabout, and follow the road down to the parking area.

Parking and Facilities

The Steamboat Landing parking area has room for about 10 cars and a couple of restrooms. It also has a floating dock for fishing and an observation point.

Less than a mile down the path at Captain William Clark Park, there is a larger parking lot and multi-user bathrooms with showers. There are also some other areas along the trail where you can park.

Dogs and horses, bikes and jogging are allowed on the trail. However, there is no trash collection, so please pack out all your trash. Be aware, too, that if you take your dog, you cannot take the dog down into the Wildlife Refuge. The dog can go down onto the beaches, though, and anywhere along the dike trail.

A pleasant sunny walk

On the way in you pass a marshy area with channels. These channels had lots of ducks in them, although that is not obvious from the photo. (There are ducks in the photo, I promise.) There are nice views of Mt. Hood in this park. I thought I’d taken a picture of it here, but it is just off to the left.

After several days of rainfall and sickness for both of us, Maja and I were ready to tackle something not so hard. We ended up going to the Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail in the Steigenwald Lake Wildlife Refuge. Part of the trail is closed for migration and breeding from October through April, but because the trail connects to the Columbia Dike Trail, you can walk as far as you want to.

The day we went out was sunny and chilly, a beautiful day. Most of the hike is not wooded, so be sure to take a hat. Quite a few people were roaming around with gigantic lenses on their cameras, taking pictures of wildfowl. On the day we were there, we saw ducks and geese, possibly a harrier hawk and an osprey, a large blue heron, and we just missed seeing an eagle.

Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail

We had had lots of rain before the hike, but the dirt trail is well drained and very well kept.

Steigerwald Lake Wildlife Refuge, WA

Distance: 2.8-mile loop trail, but connects to the Columbia River Dike Trail, so you can go farther; we walked about 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy peasy

Panting stops: 0

Elevation changes: 42 feet

The art along the trail appears occasionally. It was particularly marked on the first bridge, which had bronze insects along the rails. The trail begins with a marshy area where it looked like workers were digging more channels. I would guess that in the spring, this area is full of birds. We saw quite a few as we went in. In this area and later on, there are great views of Mt. Hood. After the marsh, the trail enters a small wooded areas before coming back out into the open.

We saw this Great Blue Heron as we were crossing the bridge and were able to take the best picture of it from behind it on the path. He didn’t seem too worried about people.

The trail has two wooden bridges along which people were photographing birds. We also saw a very large nutria that was so accustomed to people that we had to walk around it on the trail. It was too busy eating grass.

This is a super easy trail, pretty much flat, dirt and gravel but very well kept. The eastern end of the trail was closed, but because the trail comes out onto the banks of the Columbia River at the Columbia River Dike Trail, which is seven miles long, you can walk farther. We ended up going east on that trail up to the end of it.

We had a beautiful walk on a gorgeous day, and we were glad to have found this really enjoyable trail.

How to get there

From Vancouver

Go east on WA-14. just after the second traffic circle in Washougal, you will see the entrance to the wildlife refuge on your right.

Parking and Facilities

There is parking for twenty to thirty cars in the parking lot. There are also two pit toilets next to the lot. In the refuge, there are some benches formed from rocks. No dogs are allowed in the refuge, but they are allowed on the nearby Columbia River Dike Trail.