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.

 

A hidden forest

Whipple Creek Park is surprisingly near the suburban Salmon Creek area of Vancouver, but you would never know it once you step into the beautiful mixed forest of cedar, big leaf maple, and fir. The park offers 4.3 miles of trails. The well-kept gravel trails are open all year to all users—hikers, mountain bikers, and horses—and the primitive dirt trails are open during the summer to all users and the rest of the year to hikers only. Dogs are allowed on leash.

Whipple Creek Park Loop Trail

Some of the riders we encountered on the trail.

Rating: Middling, generally easy but with some short steep sections

Panting stops: 2-3

Distance: 2.1 miles

Elevation changes: 190 feet

The park loop trail presents a series of loops through a lovely forest that skirts a deep valley down to the creek. There are three entrances to the park. We came in at the north side, where there is parking for cars and horse trailers and a mounting block for riders.

My great niece and nephew try out a tree.

The trail is well marked with maps at each junction. We took the North-South trail to North Ridge Way, around the Cedar Loop. At Carousel Hill, we cut down to the South Ridge Loop and came back on the North-South trail. We did not walk the Stone Mill Loop, because on the hot day we were there, it started to get very muggy.

During the hike, we had a nice time identifying plants and encountered several parties of horses, as well as two of bikers and two of other hikers with dogs on leashes. Most of the time we were alone on the trail.

How to get there

Whipple Creek Regional Park, Ridgefield, Washington

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. There is a porta-potty at that entrance as well as mounting blocks for the riders.