A different hike in Whipple Creek Park

A glimpse of the nicely forested 45th Parallel trail. As you can see, the trail is a narrow dirt one. However, we found it nicely maintained.

This week, my friends and I returned to Whipple Creek, where, instead of just staying on the main loop or Stone Mill Loop trails, we hiked, in addition, one of the secondary maintained trails. These trails are not always open and during some seasons are only open to hikers, so be sure to pay attention to the notices in the park for when to walk them.

For this hike, we departed from the main trail at Carousel Hill to walk the 45th Parallel trail. We missed its start near a picnic area, but were able to find it later. We walked that trail all the way until it intersected with the Stone Mill Loop.

North Ridge Way, 45th Parallel, and Stone Mill Loop

Whipple Creek Regional Park, Ridgefield, Washington

Distance: 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Panting stops: two to three

Elevation changes: 216 feet

My friend Shawn and I on the 45th parallel trail. Sneakily taken by Nancy.

As I have written before, Whipple Creek Park is a beautiful park within a stone’s throw of the Salmon Creek area of Vancouver. It is heavily wooded, lightly trafficked (at least during the week), has some varied terrain, and you are likely to meet up with one or more groups of horses. We always enjoy that park.

As usual when we go to this park, we came in at the north entrance, off 21st Avenue. This time, we took North Ridge Way from the North-South Connector with the idea that once we cut over to the South Ridge Loop from Carousel Hill, we would find the start of the 45th Parallel Trail. We missed it. It must have been at the back of the meadow with the picnic area, but we cut over once we came to the Burl Cutoff.

The path is a dirt trail, narrow at times, but it makes a straight cut across the park along the 45th parallel instead of winding around like the other trails do. It is also relatively flat compared to the other paths, so more easy. The woods are denser here. All in all, it makes a pretty walk.

We came out at the Stone Mill Loop and continued that trail around to the North-South Connector and back to the parking lot. That was the most difficult part of our hike besides the long climb on the North-South Connector on the way back to the parking lot.

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 right 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. 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 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.