A pleasant community park on a river

This trail loops through a pleasant community park just outside of Battle Ground, Washington. It has views of the Lewis River as well as facilities for picnics, playscapes, wading, and fishing. It is a well-used park that can be busy on the weekend and is popular in the mornings for joggers and runners. We went on a Wednesday morning before school started and encountered a few people with dogs, some families, and people getting exercise.

The trail has a few climbs, one at the beginning and one at the end, depending upon which way you go around the loop.

Lewisville Park Trail

Rating: easy

Panting stops: 1-2

Distance: 2,5 miles

Elevation changes: 141 feet

One of the steeper parts of Lewisville Park trail.

Right outside of Battle Ground is a pleasant regional park with a nice loop trail. It is the oldest park in Clark County, and it is well kept. The trail is wide and paved much of the way or a nice pebble and sand track. The park runs along the Lewisville River, and there are a few beaches or places to fish. This park is popular on the weekends, but during the week it is pleasantly empty.

Be sure to branch off the path occasionally to get a nice view of the river.

If you park just outside the park entrance and walk in, you do not have to get a parking pass. Since the parking station is seldom open, you have to use the pay station or buy a pass, I think, at the community center.

The purple trail is a loop that goes around the outside edges of the park. There are entrances to the trail all through the park, but the easiest one to find is on the left just before the toll booth. You can also find the trail right next to the free parking area. There are signs posted occasionally to show you where the path is. Because of its intersection with parking lots and other paths and the infrequency of posted signs, it is a little hard to stay on the purple trail. Your best bet when you have a question about which path to take is to watch where other people are going.

How to get there

Lewisville Regional Park, Clark County

From Vancouver

Take Washington 500 north from I-205. It merges with Washington 503. Take 503 north past Battle Ground. A few miles past Battle Ground, the entrance to the park is on your right, just after you cross the Lewisville River.

Parking and facilities

There is a free parking area before you pass the toll booth, with spaces for about a dozen cars. If you pay the toll, there is ample parking in many areas of the park.

The park has many picnic areas, including covered picnic shelters, and restrooms, barbecue pits, softball or baseball fields, several playscapes, a couple of beaches, access to the river, drinking fountains, and a basketball court.

 

 

A notorious park but an easy hike

Here is the view looking off the Moulton Falls bridge into the water. It’s hard to tell how high up you are, but it is 60 feet. Kids dive from cliffs below the bridge, but they are only about 1/3 as high. This is the view that will be spoiled if the county installs fencing on the bridge to keep people jumping off it.

The bridge at Moulton Falls Park has been in the news lately because a girl pushed another girl off it, injuring her badly. If you could see how high up you are on the bridge and how small the area of deep water is underneath it, you would wonder why anyone would be foolhardy enough to jump off it, but people do and are hurt every year. The hike along the East Fork of the Lewis River in this park, though, is easy but beautiful, and I have hiked it many times.

The actual falls in Moulton Falls Park are Yacolt Falls, which are on the other side of the road from the main park. I will write up that short hike in another post.

This park can be confusing if you get off the main trail. There are a few maps posted along the way, but they are not frequent. Just keep in mind that the main trail from the main lot makes a loop around the river and then goes roughly straight along the river.

Moulton Falls Trail

Moulton Falls Regional Park near Yacolt, Washington

The main trails at Moulton Falls are wide a well kept.

Rating: Easy

Panting stops: 0-1

Length: 5.3 miles out and back

Elevation changes: 90 feet (probably from the main parking lot; from the upper lot, a bit more)

There are three parking areas for Moulton Falls. I parked at the upper lot at the junction of NE Railroad Avenue and NE Lucia Falls Road. From there, you can see paths going off to the north (right from the parking lot) and the south (left from the parking lot). If you take the path to the right, you will end up going across the road and taking some steps down to Yacolt Falls. I went left, where the path descends to a smooth, well-kept cinder trail. If you keep going straight rather than turning right when you meet the main path, you will cross the bridge and continue on your way as long as you want until you decide to turn around or arrive at the Hantwick trailhead.

The elevation changes on this hike are very slight, but parking at the upper lot means you will have to walk up the hill to the lot at the end of your hike. It’s at most a one-pant stop. If you want to avoid the hill, you can park in the main lot or the lot across the road.

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 infamous Moulton Falls bridge, where foolish people injure themselves frequently every summer by jumping off. Thanks to these people, the county is considering installing fencing, which will spoil the view from the bridge (the best view of the river in the area).

There are three parking lots for Moulton Falls Park at that side of the park (and one more at Hantwick). I provided instructions for parking at the upper lot, but the first lot you will come to from Battle Ground or Vancouver is the main parking lot. That lot is small and tends to get filled up. If it is, you can either go straight when the road curves around to Railroad Avenue and up to the upper lot, or you can make the turn onto Railroad and park on the other side of the road across from Sunset Falls Road. If you park across the road, be careful crossing it. The speed limit is only 35 there, but people speed through there all the time. There is a crosswalk where the path from that lot crosses to the park, but don’t count on drivers to stop for it.

If you park in the upper lot and turn right on your way down from the lot when you get to the main path, restrooms are on your right a short way down the path. If you park in the main lot, the restrooms are just off the main trail after you loop around over a small bridge. Along that part of the path there are also numerous access points to the river if you want to go swimming or sit on the rocks. Over the bridge, there are picnic areas off the main path to the right.

Water, water everywhere but not for me

On a hot Saturday afternoon, my family and I went for a hike at the Lewis River with the payoff of a gorgeous waterfall and a beautiful blue swimming hole. Negatives to this hike are the descent to the swimming hole and on that day, the crowds.

Lower Falls Trail

Rating: Easy if you just want to view the falls; tougher to difficult to get to the swimming hole

Panting stops: 0 (but I did not go down the last bit to the water)

Distance: 3 miles out and back

Elevation changes: 659 feet

The path to lower falls, briefly without people

From the parking lot, the well-travelled path ascends gently before heading down to the river and the falls. The view of the waterfall is impressive, and the swimming hole just below it looks lovely on a hot day. The swimming hole has stone ledges immersed in a couple of inches of water, allowing those who don’t want to swim to enjoy the water.

Lower Falls

To get to the swimming hole, hike further down the path, where you will find a couple of descents to the river. However, I found that the climb down a cliff to get to the swimming hole was too steep. I was mostly worried about getting back up, so I did not try to go down. Instead, my niece and I walked further down the trail and eventually found access to the water down just a slight slope. It was well below the swimming hole, however, with no good way to get back up to it. The water was shallow there and rocky, so bring your swimming shoes.

Also, on that particular day, it was crammed with people, which we found surprising for such a remote area. You had to wait in line to go down to the water, and people were trying to climb up and down at the same narrow spot. It’s steep enough that the climb up involves using tree roots as a ladder. When we left, more people were arriving with rolling coolers, boom boxes, and umbrellas. So, not a quiet retreat from everyday cares. We actually encountered a traffic jam in this remote area when we were leaving.

Later: We found out after we returned home that this particular falls had been featured on the cover of a Portland magazine and in an article about alternatives to the Gorge, since many trails there are closed because of fires and damage from last year’s fires.

How to get there

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount Adams Ranger District

From Vancouver

Take Washington 503 north past Cougar. It becomes Lewis River Road and then NF-90. A mile or so before you get to the falls, you will encounter a wash where some cars were getting stuck on their way out. You will turn right off NF-90 into the Lower Falls Recreation Area. After that, you’ll see the entrance to the parking area on your right. On the day we were there, the parking lot was full and people were parked way down the road. We were lucky enough to get a spot in the lot anyway.

Parking and facilities

There is a large parking area by the falls. Nearby there is also a campground. There are also a pit restroom and some picnic tables at the trailhead.