A return to Whipple Creek

Here’s the stone mill on the Stone Mill Loop of Whipple Creek Park. We took this picture last fall, when there were still a few fall colors.

Lately, I haven’t posted much because our default winter hikes are to parks that we know will have good, cleared paths and that I have already documented on this blog. However, lately it has been dry, so we felt it was a good time to return to Whipple Creek Park. I realized I hadn’t posted on the Stone Mill Loop (for some reason called the Grist Mill Loop on AllTrails and other hiking websites), because on our first venture into the park, we didn’t try that loop. This post is a hike we took following several of the loops in the park, including Stone Mill.

It was a cool day in the park, which is beautifully wooded, but the paths were clear and in good condition. This is a popular park for horse riders. We saw several groups of horses as well as joggers and people walking their dogs. The paths are dirt or cinder and are well kept. Some seasonal paths, which we have not tried yet, are only open to hikers except in the summer.

Stone Mill Loop and other trails

Whipple Creek Park, Ridgefield, Washington

Difficulty: Middling

Panting stops: 4 or 5

Distance: 3.6 miles

Elevation changes: 403 feet

We parked at the north park entrance off 21st Avenue and walked down the North-South Connector to North Ridge Way. We took the north side of the Cedar Loop, which we hadn’t done before, returning to North Ridge Way and cutting away to go to the South Ridge Loop. Both sides of that loop look about the same length, but we hadn’t done the inner loop before, so we took that. When we returned to the North-South Connector, we went south to the Stone Mill Loop and took it all the way around to Everson’s Cutoff, which we hadn’t taken before. So, we took that.

This trail has some fairly steep ups and downs, but even if you are in poor shape, they are short enough to be challenging but doable. The first time I came to the park last spring, some of the hills looked daunting, and I had to stop a lot. The good thing about hiking, however, is that the more you do it, the easier it is. This time, I only stopped two or three times.

How to get there

From Vancouver

From I-5, take the exit for Clark County Event Center at NE 179th Street. Go west on 179th St. to 21st Avenue, where you will see a sign for the park, and turn left. The road dead-ends at the park.

From Battle Ground

Take Washington 502 west to NE 10th Avenue. Turn left. Drive down to NE 179th Street. Go west on 179th St. to 21st Avenue, where you will see a sign for the park, and turn left. The road dead-ends at the park.

Parking and facilities

At the north parking lot, there is parking for about 10 cars and five or six horse trailers. There were four trailers there when we arrived. Cars should park in the area closest to the park. The area behind it is for horse trailers. There is a porta-potty at that entrance as well as mounting blocks for the riders.

A ruined stone mill

The nice well-kept path of the Stone Mill Loop

We have gone several times to do the other loop trails in Whipple Creek Park, but this week we returned to do the Stone Mill Loop. This loop trail goes down the middle of the secluded, deeply wooded park that is such a surprise to find so near suburban Vancouver. Then it loops around near a decrepit stone mill.

If you are using the All Trails app or looking at information on other trail sites, for some reason this trail is called Grist Mill Loop. It is called Stone Mill Loop on the actual park maps. That is additionally confusing because there is a historic Grist Mill in Clark County, but it is nowhere near this trail.

Stone Mill Loop

Rating: Middling

Panting stops: 3-4

Distance: 1,9 miles

Elevation changes: 216 feet

The Stone Mill itself. It was abandoned in 1960, the signs say.

Whipple Creek Park is a surprisingly large and densely forested area for as close to the Vancouver area of Salmon Creek as it is. It is a nice park with well-marked trails that is used for horse-back riding, biking, hiking, trail running, and nature trips. We returned again on a gloomy day that was a little wet, but the trails were all in great condition.

The Stone Mill Loop is the southern most trail in Whipple Creek Park. We went in from the northern parking area. To get to the loop, go down the North-South Connector trail to where the loop branches off, and then take the loop in either direction.

If you take the southernmost end of the loop first, you will see the Stone Mill on your left almost immediately. The trail takes you in front of it and then loops around and goes up so that you can see it from the top. If you go east when you get to the loop, then you will come to it towards the end of the loop, before you get back to the North-South Connector trail.

I rated this trail a bit more difficult than I did the other loop trails in Whipple Creek Park, because although it only has 216 feet of elevation changes, that is all in two different upward swoops, one of which is fairly steep and the other of which is long. However, I could do it with little difficulty, just some panting stops. Probably if I had hiked this trail early last year, I would have had more difficulty doing it, hence the rating. It may be a little easier if you walk it the other way around, heading east first.

How to get there

Whipple Creek Regional Park, Ridgefield, Washington

From Vancouver or Portland

From I-5, take the Vancouver exit for Clark County Event Center at NE 179th Street. Go west on 179th St. to 21st Avenue, where you will see a sign for the park, and turn left. The road dead-ends at the park.

From Battle Ground

Take Washington 502 west to NE 10th Avenue. Turn left. Drive down to NE 179th Street. Go west on 179th St. to 21st Avenue, where you will see a sign for the park, and turn left. The road dead-ends at the park.

Parking and facilities

At the north parking lot, there is parking for about 10 cars and five or six horse trailers. There were four trailers there when we arrived. There is a porta-potty at that entrance as well as mounting blocks for the riders.