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.

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.

Forest, lake, and waterfall

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

Our latest hiking adventure was quite a discovery, a beautiful woodland park nestled into the small city of Camas. It features playscapes, picnic areas, a lake with some small beaches, creeks, waterfalls, a fish ladder, and hiking trails. It is a nice park for just relaxing but also offers hiking trails with a variety of difficulty. We attempted to take the large loop around the park but got off the trail at one point and never made it around to the other side of the lake. Still, we saw some beautiful scenery and had a good time.

It is clear that this is probably a heavily used park during the summer. When we went to the park in mid-March during the week, it was not crowded at all, although there were more people in the main part of the park when we left than when we arrived. While hiking in the deeper reaches of the park, we only encountered a few people with dogs, a couple of bikers, and maybe 10 groups of hikers. The morning started off cool, but we got quite hot when we were there and started peeling off layers. Most of the park is shaded, however, so we did not get too hot.

Lacamas Park Trail

Lacamas Creek Park, Camas, Washington

Difficulty: Middling to Moderate

Panting stops: 5-7

Distance: roughly 4 miles

Elevation changes: 374 feet

These are the upper falls from the fish ladder bridge over the creek. The lake is on the other side of the bridge.

Most hiking guides rate this trail as Easy, but I rated it Middling to Moderate, because if you go on the Lower Falls Loop, as we did, the trail gets quite rough in places, and the main trail has a long rise in elevation over about a half mile. I don’t know about you, but those long rises are the hardest for me.

We attempted to take the big trail loop, shown in purple or hatched lines on the trail maps. We went counterclockwise from the parking lot at the top of the lake. The trails are poorly marked, however, and we took a detour on the Lower Falls Loop.

The path of the main loop is wide and well kept. Some of the side paths are narrower and rocky.

After an interpretive discussion about one of the posted maps with my co-hikers, we went the way they thought was right and ended up going left instead of taking the path around the top of the lake where it cuts to the right. Instead, we ended up retracing part of our route. We all agreed, however, that it was a beautiful park and worth returning to.

Except where we left the main trail to do the falls loop, the path is either paved or cinder, wide and easy to navigate. The Falls Loop was at some points rocky, and it was a narrower dirt trail. We saw lots of people with small children over by the playscape and beach but not deeper into the woods. In the woods, we saw hikers, bikers, and dog walkers.

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 (not open when we were there in March, but there were porta-potties), a playscape, picnic tables, and small beaches, as well as many benches.