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 long hike near Yale Lake

Here’s Autumn walking with my dog Luke down the trail.

The IP Road trail along Yale Lake is a relatively easy but long hike as it follows an old logging road, also known as the Yale Logging Road. The road has been closed since 2008 when a storm washed out sections of it. This is a beautiful hike with views of the lake to the west and cascades and rocky outcroppings of limestone and sideways lying basalt columns to the east.

We went there on a cool, cloudy day, but we got quite hot from the hiking despite the nice breezes off the lake. We noticed a side trail toward the lake early on in the hike that we think might lead to a beach on the northeastern shore of the lake. On another day, we might have been happy to jump in, but by the time we got back that far, we were too tired from walking. This is a long hike, but we made it all the way in to where the road is washed out, and what’s more, we made it back.

IP Road

Yale Lake, Cougar, Washington

Distance: 7.3 miles, in and out

Difficulty: Easy peasy (except for the distance)

Panting stops: 0

Elevation changes: 120 feet

This trail is along an old logging road, so it is partially paved and partially gravel and in good condition. The most difficult footing is still relatively easy and comes at a place where a rise in the road accompanies a change to large gravel. The scenery along the road is gorgeous, and I can imagine it would be even more beautiful in the fall. We saw lots of wildflowers and just ripening blackberries in our early summer hike.

Although we were walking along the lake the whole time, nice open views of it appear towards the endpoint of the hike. Here is Nancy’s dog, Freckles. In this picture, it looks like we are right next to the lake, but we are really high above it.

The road runs next to Yale Lake for most of its length, but it is high above the lake. We didn’t see any places where you could go down to it from our side, except perhaps the path we noticed running off to the right as we first started down the road. We could see as we came back that there appeared to be a nice beach at that end of the lake.

Along the other side is a steep cliff that has several waterfalls. At this time of the year, they weren’t running very much water through, and we could just barely see the falls. I notice they didn’t show up at all in my picture.

The hike ends after 3.7 miles where the road was washed out by storms.

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 on a leash.