Convoluted trails on a beautiful campus

A boardwalk area of the path becomes wood chips at the end.

On the Vancouver campus of Washington State University is a complex of walking and hiking trails. These trails go through a  heritage garden, where seeds from old farms have been planted to maintain the heirloom plants, lush woods with creeks, and a pretty campus area, depending upon the trails you pick.

The trails are poorly marked, however. For some reason, no one bothered to place on the occasional trail maps the You Are Here mark, rendering them almost useless (except on one occasion where a hiker penciled it in). To make matters worse, the maps are oriented with the West to the top of the map. We attempted to take the blue loop but ended up taking the yellow one when we realized where we were and that the blue loop was almost all campus and unshaded. It was a hot, sunny day, and we wanted to stay in the shade.

Cougar Trails Loop

Rating: Easy

Panting Dog from AnimateIt.netPanting stops: 1-2

Distance: 1.3 miles to 6 miles, depending upon which loops you take

Elevation changes: 242 feet

A glimpse of Mill Creek from the path

This path is varied. We started on a neat wood-chip path, but at times it became a boardwalk and at other times a sidewalk. Most of the time it is wide enough for two people to walk abreast, and there are only a few ups and downs.

We parked near the WSU barn and started our hike hear the Heritage Garden and walked along the edge of it. We encountered quite a few hikers, including a few with leashed dogs, but the area was not crowded. At one point, a hiker warned us that a coyote was ahead of us on the path, and we saw him at a distance.

The path goes over and around Mill Creek, up towards and around the campus and back into the Mill Creek Riparian Interpretive Trail.

How to get there

From Vancouver

Take I-205 to the NE 134th Street exit. Turn east on NE 134th, which becomes NE Salmon Creek Avenue. There are several entrances to the trails from around the campus. You can take the WSU Entrance Road to park on campus or park in several places just off campus.

From Battle Ground

Take Washington 502 west from Battle Ground. Turn left on NE 50th Avenue, and drive about 14 miles south. The entrance to WSU is on your right just before NE Salmon Creek Avenue.


We parked near the WSU barn on NE Salmon Creek Avenue, where there is a pull-off for three or four cars. There is also a parking place for a few cars on NE 50th Avenue.