Beautiful views of Mt. Hood

The view of Mt. Hood from the top picnic area on the Lava Loop

Strictly speaking, I didn’t hike the trails at Scouters Mountain. Instead, I walked on them briefly during a Mushroom Discovery class. However, I think I saw enough of them to write up a hike review for those who are interested. Scouters Mountain has three trails, the Lava Loop, the Boomer Trail, and the Shelter Trail. The first two trails provide a couple of loops around the top of the mountain, one gentle, the other with a few more elevation changes. The Shelter Trail is paved and provides a path from the end of the Boomer Trail between the two parking lots. Both paths provide striking views of Mt. Hood.

Scouters Mountain Trails

Scouters Mountain Nature Park, Happy Valley, Oregon

Difficulty: Easy

Panting stops: 0-1

Distance: 1.2 miles

Elevation changes: 180 feet

Two deer in the park didn’t seem to be worried about us at all.

We parked at the lot and took the Shelter Trail up to the picnic area. From there we went around part of the Lava Loop and descended the Boomer Trail a bit for our class. On the way up the Shelter Trail, we saw two deer who weren’t afraid of us at all, and judging by some reviews I’ve read, this is not an unusual experience. At the top, there were beautiful views of Mt. Hood, and the park in general is very pretty, especially on a chilly but clear fall day.

The Shelter Trail is paved, and the other trails are well-kept gravel paths. Dogs are not allowed, however. The Lava Loop is wheelchair-accessible.

I didn’t actually walk the whole trail, so I put in one panting stop just because of the change in elevation. The rise between the parking lots on the Shelter Trail is very gradual, though, so you can probably park in the lower lot (you must park there unless you have a disability pass), walk up, and then take the Boomer Trail back down.

How to get there

From Portland or Vancouver

From I-205, take exit 17 for SE Foster Road. Turn left onto SE Woodstock Boulevard. Woodstock Boulevard becomes SE Foster Road. Go 0.6 miles and turn right onto SE 110th Avenue. SE 110th becomes SE 112th Blvd., and then SE Mt. Scott Blvd., and finally SE King Road. After 0.8 miles on SE King Road, turn right onto SE 145th Avenue. After 0.4 miles, turn left onto SE Boy Scout Lodge Road and follow the park signs.

Parking and Amenities

There is a large lower lot and a smaller upper lot that is only for folks with disabilities. The park has a covered picnic area and a bathroom at the top of the park.

 

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Where are the falls at Moulton Falls Park?

Yacolt Falls, at the far end of Moulton Falls Regional Park. The bridge that you cross at the base of these falls is hidden in this picture.

This is actually a question I have had asked me when I’ve been hiking in Moulton Falls Regional Park. Because it is near to my house, I had visited the park many times before I realized that I hadn’t seen any falls. If you look at the map of the park, you can see that they consider the smallish cataracts near the main entrance to the park to be falls, but to my mind they are not. So, it was with surprise that I found, when I went hiking with a different person, that there actually are some real falls in the park, Yacolt Falls.

This hike isn’t really very long. In fact, I don’t have anything but guesses as to how long it may be. However, it has some ups and downs in the form of stairs that you go down to view the falls and then go back up on the other side. These are old blocks of stone, and some of them are rather high, so if you hike with sticks, I suggest you bring them along.

Yacolt Falls Trail

Moulton Falls Regional Park near Yacolt, Washington

Difficulty: Middling

Panting stops: 0

Distance: 0.5 mile loop or shorter (this is just a guess)

Elevation changes: maybe 50 feet

This trail is one of several hikes in the large and pleasant Moulton Falls Regional Park. There are a couple of different ways to get to the trail. My instructions are from the upper parking lot of the main entrance to the park. You can also get there from the parking lot across the road from the intersection of Railroad Avenue with Sunset Falls Road.

From the upper lot, take the rightmost trail, the one that seems to lead back to the road. In fact it does. After a short descent, you end up at a crosswalk on Lucia Falls Road. Cross the road, being very careful, because even though the speed limit is slow there, many people speed through the area, and pick up the trail on the other side.

After a short walk down the dirt path, you will come to a set of stone steps leading down to a bridge at the base of the water fall. This looks like perhaps it is the oldest area of the park, as the stone steps are obviously old. Walk down the steps and cross the bridge for a beautiful view of the falls.

Walk back up the other side. From here until you cross to the other parking lot, the path is narrow and a little overgrown. It goes through an ancient picnic area and along a creek, and then back to the road at a different place. Cross back over the road and turn left to return to where you started. The path up to the parking area is to your left just after you cross the small bridge and pass the restrooms. Alternatively, you can explore the rest of Moulton Falls Park.

Again, this path is a little rougher because it is not used as often as the main part of the park. The stone staircase has steps with a higher rise than a regular staircase, and at one place where you are descending on the other side of the falls to the path, there is an extra long step where I definitely needed my sticks. The stairs and long steps are the only reason I rated this path “midding.” Otherwise, it is very short and easy.

How to get there

From Yacolt

Drive south on NE Railroad Avenue. Just at the junction of Sunset Falls Road is the first parking lot for Moulton Falls Park on the right. The upper lot is just after Sunset Falls Road on the left.

From Battle Ground or Vancouver

Take Washington 503 to Rock Creek Road and turn right. Rock Creek Road becomes NE 152nd Avenue and then Lucia Falls Road. The main parking lot for Moulton Falls is on the right shortly after you pass Lucia Falls. The upper lot is straight ahead at the point where the road curves 90 degrees to become NE Railroad Avenue.

Parking and Amenities

The upper parking lot has space for about a dozen to twenty cars.  The part of the park by the falls has only a few old picnic tables. However, once you cross the road back to the main park, there are restrooms, picnic areas, and access points to the Lewis River.

In search of leaping salmon

The fall colors at Lucia Falls. You can see the falls in the right background.

One of my hiking friends suggested we go to Lucia Falls for our hike this week. I wouldn’t normally consider Lucia Falls for a hike, because the trail isn’t very long, but going to the park to do more than look at the falls showed me a few fine features of this beautiful regional park. The reason my friend wanted to go to Lucia is because she had seen people posting pictures of migrating salmon jumping up the falls just in the last few weeks. We didn’t see any fish, but we did get a better opportunity to explore the park.

Lucia Falls Trail

Difficulty: Easy peasy

Panting stops: 0

Distance: 0.5-1 mile loop (depending which source you look at), with options to go farther

Elevation changes: 16 feet

Lucia Falls

Lucia Falls is a pleasant little regional park wedged between NE Lucia Falls Road and the Lewis River. I have only ever walked down the path to the falls before, but this time we explored the park more thoroughly. It features a short loop with a few beautiful views of the river and the waterfall. It is more like a cataract, but if you’re lucky, you can see the salmon running. I saw a salmon my very first time at the park. The trail is a well-kept cinder or dirt path.

Rock formations along the Lewis River

The loop is straightforward to the east of the parking lot. However, once you walk back a way, there is an offshoot of the trail that allows you to walk a short distance down Hantwick Road and across the railroad tracks to the Hantwick trailhead of Moulton Falls Park. So, this trail can be a nice easy start, with beautiful views, of a much longer hike, if you wish.

You can add to your explorations of Lucia Falls Park itself if you take the other path from the west side of the parking lot. It takes you down along the river. It takes you to a point where you have a choice of two directions. If you go one way, you come out at another access to the main road. If you go the other way, you find a small viewing platform over the water with a picnic table.

How to get there

Lucia Falls Regional Park, Yacolt, Washington

From Yacolt

Drive south on NE Railroad Avenue. Just after the junction of Sunset Falls Road, the road curves ninety degrees and becomes NE Lucia Falls Road. Follow the road past the entrances to Moulton Park. About a mile down the road, you will come to NE Hantwick Road on your left. Just after Hantwick Road, you’ll see the park on your left.

From Battle Ground or Vancouver

Take Washington 503 to Rock Creek Road and turn right. Rock Creek Road becomes NE 152nd Avenue and then Lucia Falls Road. Lucia Falls is on your right a mile or so after the stop sign.

Parking and Amenities

Lucia Falls Park has a large parking lot with room for perhaps 20 or 30 cars. Restrooms are available in season and a porta-potty out of season. The park also has a few picnic tables.

A ruined stone mill

The nice well-kept path of the Stone Mill Loop

We have gone several times to do the other loop trails in Whipple Creek Park, but this week we returned to do the Stone Mill Loop. This loop trail goes down the middle of the secluded, deeply wooded park that is such a surprise to find so near suburban Vancouver. Then it loops around near a decrepit stone mill.

If you are using the All Trails app or looking at information on other trail sites, for some reason this trail is called Grist Mill Loop. It is called Stone Mill Loop on the actual park maps. That is additionally confusing because there is a historic Grist Mill in Clark County, but it is nowhere near this trail.

Stone Mill Loop

Rating: Middling

Panting stops: 3-4

Distance: 1,9 miles

Elevation changes: 216 feet

The Stone Mill itself. It was abandoned in 1960, the signs say.

Whipple Creek Park is a surprisingly large and densely forested area for as close to the Vancouver area of Salmon Creek as it is. It is a nice park with well-marked trails that is used for horse-back riding, biking, hiking, trail running, and nature trips. We returned again on a gloomy day that was a little wet, but the trails were all in great condition.

The Stone Mill Loop is the southern most trail in Whipple Creek Park. We went in from the northern parking area. To get to the loop, go down the North-South Connector trail to where the loop branches off, and then take the loop in either direction.

If you take the southernmost end of the loop first, you will see the Stone Mill on your left almost immediately. The trail takes you in front of it and then loops around and goes up so that you can see it from the top. If you go east when you get to the loop, then you will come to it towards the end of the loop, before you get back to the North-South Connector trail.

I rated this trail a bit more difficult than I did the other loop trails in Whipple Creek Park, because although it only has 216 feet of elevation changes, that is all in two different upward swoops, one of which is fairly steep and the other of which is long. However, I could do it with little difficulty, just some panting stops. Probably if I had hiked this trail early last year, I would have had more difficulty doing it, hence the rating. It may be a little easier if you walk it the other way around, heading east first.

How to get there

Whipple Creek Regional Park, Ridgefield, Washington

From Vancouver or Portland

From I-5, take the Vancouver exit for Clark County Event Center at NE 179th Street. Go west on 179th St. to 21st Avenue, where you will see a sign for the park, and turn left. The road dead-ends at the park.

From Battle Ground

Take Washington 502 west to NE 10th Avenue. Turn left. Drive down to NE 179th Street. Go west on 179th St. to 21st Avenue, where you will see a sign for the park, and turn left. The road dead-ends at the park.

Parking and facilities

At the north parking lot, there is parking for about 10 cars and five or six horse trailers. There were four trailers there when we arrived. There is a porta-potty at that entrance as well as mounting blocks for the riders.

 

Lighthouse along the Columbia

The Warrior Rock Lighthouse isn’t very impressive, but it’s a nice goal for a hike.

Take a walk through lush fields and woods and along the sandy banks of the Columbia River. This trail is an easy walk along the edge of Sauvie Island in the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area. Depending upon whether you choose to walk along the shore or stay on the trail, take the loop at the end or not, the hike can be as long as six or seven miles, in and out. There are very few changes in elevation.

Parking for this trail requires an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife day pass, but you can buy this pass at the grocery store on the island right when you cross the bridge.

Warrior Rock Lighthouse Trail

Rating: Easy peasy

Panting stops: 0

Distance: 6-7 miles, in and out

Elevation changes: 42 feet

The banks of Sauvie Island

Part of the time taking this hike, we used a guide book that my friend brought. Because the trail sometimes follows an old road but has forks off to the water, we couldn’t always figure out where the trail was and the book’s instructions were confusing.

Reeder Road dead ends at the trail head where there is parking and a porta-potty. Park there. If you want to start the trail by going down to the river bank, go through the fence at the right side of the parking area and take the trail down to the bank. If you want to stay on the trail, go past the trailhead sign.

Some classic fairy tale mushrooms along the trail

The guide book we used advised branching off to the river bank immediately and following it up until the sand starts to vanish, where you rejoin the trail. We had a hard time identifying that point, because it said it was a beacon 3. It is actually between the 3rd and 4th beacon. If you choose to take part of the hike along the river bank, you will see a fence between you and the trail and then a cliff. You can rejoin the trail by climbing up a little bit after the cliff disappears and just before you get to the point where the sand disappears.

The trail becomes an old road, but it sometimes diverges. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter which way you go, although some of the divergent paths just take you back to the bank. However, once you are well into the woods and about three miles from the start, if you want to go directly to the lighthouse, take the path that diverges there. If you look into the woods, you can see a small birdhouse or bat house attached to a tree at that point.

The path varies from being an old road, at times overgrown (which is why we sometimes accidentally ended up on the trail when we meant to be on the road) and a path that goes from wider to narrow and lined with grass and brambles. However, none of it is difficult to navigate. If it has been rainy lately, though, boots are recommended.

The road makes a loop away from the lighthouse and then returns to it, so if you take the loop, you will go the full seven miles and see the lighthouse on your way back.

How to get there

Sauvie Island Wildlife Area, Sauvie Island, Oregon

From Portland

Take US-30 toward St. Helens to Sauvie Island. Turn right across the Sauvie Island bridge. Turn left on Sauvie Island Road, where you can stop at the grocery store and buy your pass. Then turn left. Make a right on Reeder Road, and follow it all the way out to the end. There are lots of places to stop and go to the river bank if you would like to do that before going to the trailhead.

From Vancouver

Take I-5 south and take the Marine Drive exit right after you cross the river. This becomes US-30/St. Helens road. Follow US-30 until you turn right on the Sauvie Island bridge. Turn left on Sauvie Island Road, where you can stop at the grocery store and buy your pass. Then turn left. Make a right on Reeder Road, and follow it all the way out to the end. There are lots of places to stop and go to the river bank if you would like to do that before going to the trailhead.

Parking and facilities

At the trailhead, there is parking for about a dozen cars and a porta-potty.

Meadows, birds, and other wildlife

The entrance to the Kiwa Trail off the auto tour route

The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge offers an easy loop trail through woodlands and meadows that are filled with wildlife. The trail itself can only be used from May to September, as it is closed during the times of the largest bird migrations. Before it is opened and after it is closed, in the spring and fall, you can take the CD-guided auto tour route (pick up the CD at the park entrance kiosk) and see thousands of water birds. We attempted this trail twice, once before it opened up and one time in the summer when it was closed because of a cougar sighting. We finally got a chance to enjoy it.

Kiwa Trail

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Ridgefield, Washington

Rating: easy peasy

Panting stops: 0

Distance: 1.5 miles

Elevation changes: 3 feet

The bridge takes you from the woodlands to the meadows.

To get to the Kiwa trail, you drive into the wildlife refuge, stop at the park entrance to pay a small fee ($3), and follow the auto tour loop. You will come to a short hiking loop with a few parking places and a porta-potty on the left. The trail is actually just a bit farther down the road on the right. You can’t miss it. There is a big sign (shown above).

The trail takes you through some woodlands into a marsh that is full of wildlife. At the entrance to the trail are a few canals that may have ducks. Further in, we saw herriers, herons, egrets, a deer, and lots of field birds. The trail goes through a wooded area, across a bridge, and then around a large meadow. The path is well kept, cinder at the beginning and slightly elevated and covered with spongy ground cover when you enter the meadow and marsh.

On the auto road, we saw a nutria and a mink crossing the road at different points, and we saw nutria and ducks swimming in the waterways we passed. The refuge is a major stopover during migration seasons for all kinds of water birds and in the fall for sandhill cranes.

What we thought was going to be a cold, dismal day turned out bright and sunny. Much of this hike is in the open, so bring a hat!

A heron up the trail

How to get there

From Vancouver or Portland

Drive north on I-5. Take the exit for Ridgefield, WA-501/NW 269th Street/Pioneer Street. Turn left on Pioneer Street. Continue on Pioneer Street through all the traffic circles. Turn left onto S. 9th Avenue. This road becomes S. Hillhurst Road. Turn right at the entrance to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and drive into the park. Cross the one-lane bridge and turn right onto NW Tour Route Road after paying at the park entrance. Follow the auto tour route until you see the sign for the trail on your right.

From Battle Ground

Take WA-502 west from Battle Ground. Turn right on NE 10th Avenue. Turn left onto NE Carty Road. Turn right on NW Hillhurst Road. About a quarter of a mile up the road, you will see the entrance to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge on your left. Turn left and drive into the park. Cross the one-lane bridge and turn right onto NW Tour Route Road after paying at the park entrance. Follow the auto tour route until you see the sign for the trail on your right.

Parking and Facilities

At the entrance to the wildlife refuge is a pit toilet. At the entrance to the trail, there is parking for about five cars.

 

Another way into Moulton

This nice paved path takes you about a mile down the route, later changing to a cinder track.

The Hantwick trailhead for Moulton Park is a good one because it has plenty of parking yet is not as popular and crowded as the other areas of the park can be. Its nice paved path slopes gently down from the parking lot and eventually follows the river, where it becomes a cinder path. You can take the path all the way to the other end of Moulton if you like or walk as far as you want. Although the path to the park from the upper lot is a little steep, there are no steep stretches from this end of the park.

Moulton Falls Trail—Hantwick Trailhead

You will pass this pretty pond before you get to the river.

Moulton Falls Regional Park near Yacolt, Washington

Rating: Easy peasy

Panting stops: 0

Length: 5.2 miles out and back

Elevation changes: 90 feet

The drive to the Hantwick trailhead takes you off the busy road and railroad track that run along the park by the other entrances. It takes a pleasant windy road back across the Lewis River and the tracks. You end up in a large parking lot that is above the trail. Walk down the nicely kept paved track into the park, where you will briefly follow the railroad tracks, pass a pretty pond, and eventually come to the river.

You do have to walk back up to the parking lot at the end of the hike, but it is a gentle climb. This end of the park offers views of the river and the houses across the river from the park. If you follow the path to the other end of the park, there is water access.

If you go all the way to the end of the park by the main road and cross the highway, you will see some beautiful falls.

How to get there

From Yacolt

Drive south on NE Railroad Avenue. Just after the junction of Sunset Falls Road, the road curves ninety degrees and becomes NE Lucia Falls Road. Follow the road past the other entrances to Moulton Park. About a mile down the road, you will come to NE Hantwick Road on your left. It is a hairpin turn. Take Hantwick Road down across the river. Just after it crosses the railroad track, the parking lot for the trailhead is on your left.

From Battle Ground or Vancouver

Take Washington 503 to Rock Creek Road and turn right. Rock Creek Road becomes NE 152nd Avenue and then Lucia Falls Road. Just after you pass Lucia Falls, you will see NE Hantwick Road on your right. Take Hantwick Road down across the river. Just after it crosses the railroad track, the parking lot for the trailhead is on your left.

Parking and Amenities

There is a large parking lot at the trailhead and a porta-potty. At the other end of the park is a restroom facility. There are picnic tables throughout the park with a nice one at the Hantwick end of the trail. Technically, you’re not supposed to go swimming in the park, but there is access to the river at the other end of the trail, and people do go swimming.

 

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