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.

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.

 

I tackle the rock

Beacon Rock from the bottom. Here are Autumn and her mother Jules. This photo does not convey how intimidating it looks.

Those who have hiked with me know that I don’t like up, that is, not sustained, steep up. I feel like I don’t get a break from it if there is no flatness or at least less steep switchbacks. So, when Autumn suggested Beacon Rock, I wasn’t so sure how much I wanted to do it. It is a tall outcrop wedged between WA-14 and the Columbia River. Last year, when we attempted to hike a couple of miles up Hamilton Mountain, I saw it and was fairly sure I wasn’t ready for it. I thought I wrote an article about that hike, but all I did was mention it in my first post.

However, this week I decided to give it a try. It is a daunting prospect when you first see it, at least for people who aren’t in great shape, but the trails are all switchbacks with a short set of steps at the very top. It was rough on my knees and legs for such a short hike, but he views of the Columbia are worth the effort. I made it all the way up!

Beacon Rock Trail

Beacon Rock State Park, Stevenson, Washington

Distance: 1.8 miles out and back

Difficulty: Tougher

Panting stops: Too many to count, especially toward the top

Elevation changes: 680 feet

It was an overcast day when we started up the rock, but it cleared up nicely for the gorgeous views.

This trail is rated moderate on all the hiking sites, but I would rate it tougher. Although it has a few level areas, most of it is up, although on more gentle slopes because of the switchbacks. It is not a long hike, but my legs were feeling it by the time we got back down.

The path is stone or gravel with some short paved portions and some wooden bridges to cross. My friend Autumn has a fear of heights and had great difficulty crossing the bridges the first time. This time, she sometimes had to get her courage up, but she has been up several times since that first time. In a few areas, the stone on the path is loose, but most of the way it is rugged but not loose. Most of the stairs on the final flight have very high rises. So, uphill my hiking sticks were a necessity. Downhill, because almost all of the trail has guardrails, I didn’t usually need my sticks except for high steps or exceptional ruggedness. I would guess that the moderate rating on most sites is because of the ruggedness of some of the footing.

We left for our hike earlier than usual so that we could get well up the rock before it got too hot. Nevertheless, we were quite warm by the time we got to the top, even though it was probably only about 80 degrees there. Toward the top of the trail there is a lot of shade, and at one spot we came around a corner into a lovely cool breeze.

The trail has many gorgeous views of the Columbia River. If you feel you can handle the elevation change in such a short distance, it is worth it. There is no accommodation on this trail for people needing wheelchairs.

How to get there

From Portland

Take I-205 north into Washington. Almost as soon as you get to the mainland, take WA-14 east toward Camas. The park is on WA-14 about 28 miles along. There is more than one entrance to the park, but parking for this trail is best right next to the rock. Bypass the first entrance to the park. Just after you pass a ranger station on the left, you will see the rock on the right. Parking  is on the right just beyond it.

From Vancouver

Take WA-14 exit east toward Camas. The park is on WA-14 about 28 miles along. There is more than one entrance to the park, but parking for this trail is best right next to the rock. Bypass the first entrance to the park. Just after you pass a ranger station on the left, you will see the rock on the right. Parking  is on the right just beyond it.

Parking and Facilities

The lot next to the trailhead has parking for about 20 vehicles. There is also parking across the highway next to the ranger station. The park also has restrooms near the trailhead. Rock climbing is allowed on the face of the rock away from the hiking trail. The state park has five other trails, as well as campgrounds, picnic and day use facilities, and fresh water fishing, docks, and a boat launch. Dogs are allowed on the trail, and bikes and horses are allowed in the park but not on this trail. Most of the park’s facilities are available from other entrances to the park, not the one near the Beacon Rock trailhead.

On the Columbia again

Up along the path to the beaches, we saw a paddle wheeler on the Columbia.

This week we discovered a delightful park wedged between the Columbia River and Vancouver Lake. The park has a bit more than 2.5 miles of trails itself, or you can hike across to Vancouver Lake Park. We did a little of both, although it was a hot day and the trail to the other park was completely in sunlight, so we didn’t hike as far as we intended.

Frenchman’s Bar Trail

Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park, Vancouver, Washington

Distance: nearly 4 miles one way if you walk all the way to Vancouver Lake Park and to the end of the trail; if you stay in the park, about 2.5 miles one-way

Difficulty: easy peasy

Panting stops: 0

Elevation changes: minimal

Here is a glimpse of one of the minor trails that ends up at one of the beaches. The main trail is paved.

This park offers well-kept paved or gravel trails with very little change in elevation. Because the hike isn’t on AllTrails, I was unable to find information about elevation changes, but the part we walked only had one very small rise, and that was off the main trail.

We arrived and parked in the first parking lot. That may have been a mistake, because we had lots of difficulty figuring out where we we were. The only map we saw was next to the main parking lot. Although we intended to take the trail over to Vancouver park, we ended up hiking up the Columbia River along the beaches and then briefly coming back along  a dead-end trail. Once we figured out where the main trail was (indicated by blue arrows on the pavement but only when you get as far as the main parking lot), it was much hotter and we only walked a short way toward the lake. Maps in several areas of the park would have helped us out a lot.

That being said, we saw some wildlife along the river, and from a distance we spotted the nest of a large bird, possibly ospreys or eagles. I took a picture, but it didn’t come out at all. Even zoomed in, you can’t tell you are looking at birds.

During the weekday, the park was only sparsely attended. It has many beaches and a playground, picnic areas, and we saw people picking blackberries.

How to get there

From Vancouver or Portland

From I-5 in Vancouver, take exit 1D onto 4th Plain Blvd. Head west 1.5 miles, then merge right to stay on 4th Plain. Fourth Plain branches to the right, and shortly after that, it turns into NW River Road. Follow the signs to the park entrance.

From Battle Ground

Take WA 502 to I-5 and turn south. Take exit 1D onto 4th Plain Blvd. Head west 1.5 miles, then merge right to stay on 4th Plain. Fourth Plain branches to the right, and shortly after that, it turns into NW River Road. Follow the signs to the park entrance.

Parking and Facilities

The park has two large parking lots. It also has two sets of restrooms, many picnic areas, including shelters, several beaches, beach volleyball courts, fishing areas, and a playscape. A fee of $3 is required unless you have a regional annual parking pass, which is good for four of the regional parks in Clark County.

 

A bit too urban

Turtles and a surprising duck on a platform sunning in the Turtle Pond. Photo courtesy of Autumn

Salmon Creek Park is a great place for its urban neighbors. It has a large swimming hole, a softball facility, and a three-mile hiking trail. We took that trail on our last hike. It’s wide, paved throughout. It runs next to a turtle pond, but although the map shows it running alongside Salmon Creek, at least on the part we were on, the creek was not evident without turning off the path and taking one of the small offshoots.

It was a muggy day and felt unpleasant, even though it was not hot. We ended up only going about three miles rather than the full five miles.

Salmon Creek Trail

Salmon Creek Park, Vancouver, Washington

Distance: about five miles

Difficulty: Easy peasy

Panting stops: 0

Elevation changes: 30 feet

The trail running next to the turtle pond approaching the wooded area. Briefly there was only one other person ahead of us.

This paved path is heavily used. The day we were there, we saw many walkers, joggers, runners, and bikers. Lots of people had their dogs.

We saw at least three different parking lots on our way in, so the park is ready to accommodate many people. The park is very urban until we passed the softball venue. Then the trail enters a wooded area that is much more pleasant. On another day, we might have been tempted to walk the entire trail, but it was muggy, and since we are spoiled by hiking more in rural areas, we decided to turn back. I am sure the residents near this park find it a godsend. It was a bit too urban for us.

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 entire trail is wheelchair accessible. Dogs are allowed on a leash. The WTA page on this trail reported a parking fee being required. We were there in July on a Wednesday and saw no indication that a fee was required, so perhaps it is only on weekends.

Moulton on a gorgeous winter day

Here is a view of the river on this gorgeous day.

I have already posted about hikes on three different trails at Moulton Falls Park (or at least two of them were about approaching the same trail from two different trailheads), but this week my hiking friends and I went to Moulton Park after a particularly beautiful snowfall. I thought I’d just write a post showing my pictures and talking about our hike. You can see the actual details of the hike, with ratings, distances, and elevation changes, driving directions, and so on, on my previous post about the park.

It was very cold on Wednesday morning, and the upper lot was closed, so this is the first hike we have taken from the lower lot. When we arrived, only one other car was in the parking lot, but we still encountered many more people in the park than we usually do on a winter weekday, and by the time we returned to the car, the lot was half full. it was such a beautiful day.

If you look very closely into the middle of this picture, slightly to the right, you’ll see a shower of snow falling from the trees down to the river. This is a view from the middle of the bridge over the river.

The sun was shining, the Lewis River was high, and snow was showering down from the laden treetops into the water. People were in a good mood and several stopped to remark about how happy they were to have come out. We walked all the way from the lower lot to the Hantwick trailhead and back, a distance we had so far not achieved before, about 5 to 6 miles. (The official sites on the walk say it is 2.4 miles one way, but we noticed that the sign that mentioned that distance was already partway along the trail, at the opening to the Bells Mountain Trail. I would guess there was another quarter to half mile more to the parking lot.)

Because the trails are easy and so well kept, the only slippery parts we encountered were the surfaces of the two wooden bridges, and they still had fairly good traction. You just had to take care. If you don’t park in the upper lot, you don’t even have to deal with the slope back and forth from the parking lot.

This is a lovely hike to take on a winter day. There are no very steep hills, the paths are either paved or cinder, and the views are lovely.