A revisit to Salmon Creek Park

The first time I visited Salmon Creek Park, I wasn’t impressed. The first part of our walk was very urban, and it was so humid that day, despite being cold, that we weren’t enjoying our hike, so turned around. However, Maja and I decided to take my dog Luke to revisit the park this fall, and we took a side trail up to Cougar Creek. During this hike, we got farther into the park so saw more of its wilder side. There were lots of migrating birds, and by Cougar Creek, it was wooded rather than meadowy.

Salmon Creek Trail to Cougar Creek

Salmon Creek Park, Vancouver, WA

Distance: about four miles

Difficulty: Easy

Panting stops: 0

Elevation changes: 30 feet

We parked again at the first parking lot for the park and started down the trail. This time we made it further in past the Turtle Pond, where we saw turtles and lots of ducks as well as a Great Blue Heron. We saw ducks walking along the trail and geese flying overhead on this fall walk.

The trail is paved most of the way and is very popular. We saw lots of walkers, runners, bikers, and people with dogs. If you are going in the summer, there is also a really nice swimming hole near the first parking lot. Dogs are not allowed in there, however, so I have never seen all of it.

Cougar Creek runs along at the bottom of the gorge. You can just barely see it in the photo. In the center of the photo, there is a small waterfall.

The path goes past the softball fields and then into a meadowland. Despite the low temperatures, we got a little warm. Then we entered a wooded area, and people recommended we try the short trail up Cougar Creek. It is much more wooded there, and there is a little bit of a climb instead of it being completely flat, but it is not much of one. We ran up in a gorge that had homes at the top of it but still seemed very wild, and Cougar Creek ran picturesquely down at the bottom.

The side path to Cougar Creek is narrower and graveled but still very well kept.

How to get there

From Vancouver or Portland

From I-5, I-205 or Highway 99, go west on NE 139th Street until you reach NW 36th Avenue. Turn left and cross the Felida Bridge. The trailhead will be on the left side of the road.

From Battle Ground

Take WA 502 (Main Street) west from town. Turn left on NE 72nd Avenue. Go about five miles and turn right on NE 119th Avenue. Follow this road (it changes to NE 117th Street and then to NE 119th Street) until you pass under the I-5 and I-205 underpasses. Shortly after you go under the underpasses, you will see the park entrance on your right.

Parking and Facilities

There is lots of parking at the park. There are also a swimming hole with lifeguards, restrooms, and benches. The park has restrooms, softball fields, picnic tables and shelters, barbecue grills, and lots of benches. The entire trail is wheelchair accessible. Dogs are allowed on a leash except over by the pool. A parking fee or a regional pass is required.

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