The natural beauty abounds in Clark County and that’s nowhere as true as on the area’s many parks and trails. You’ll be mesmerized at every turn as you traverse the woodlands and happen upon some of the most remarkable lakes and rivers.
Dive into waterfalls, get lost among the trees, or take a leisurely stroll that conveniently leads you right to a restaurant. No matter what type of hike suits your fancy, you’re sure to find it in Clark County.
Cape Horn Trail
The Columbia River Gorge certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to being a hikers’ paradise. Cape Horn Trail is an arduous 6.4-mile trail that demands hikers’ attention and rewards them with some of the most beautiful views to be found in Washougal. The trail is laden with overlooks that tower above the river, and this out-and-back trek serves as a challenging hike for even the most experienced hikers. You’ll get gorgeous views of the Columbia River Gorge and a peek at the area’s native wildlife. Be warned that this trail is known for being extra muddy in the spring.
Salmon Creek Greenway Trail
If you’re looking for a low-intensity, high-quality hike, look no further than Salmon Creek Greenway Trail. The name Salmon Creek might be a little misleading because you’ll probably see far more birds than you will fish. This trail is known for its wildlife, including ducks, geese, and swans that call the water home. Most of the trail is paved, yet some other parts can get quite mucky when it rains. The whole six miles usually takes people about two hours to complete, and the trail is generally considered a gentle grade with a few moderate up and downhill portions.
Columbia River Renaissance Trail
You don’t have to go far to get your steps in because the Columbia River Renaissance Trail brings the hike to you. Downtown Vancouver is home to this winding trail that’s snuggled up against the waterfront and offers easy access to several public spaces, restaurants, and shops. At the end of the trail, you’ll find Wintler Community Park, which is an urban oasis in the form of 12.5 acres of open spaces and sandy beaches. The trail is largely paved and you can hop on or off at numerous points throughout the loop.
Moulton Falls Trail
"Moulton Falls" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by brx0
Moulton Falls Trail is a lot more fun – and a lot wetter than most. It’s a four-mile out-and-back hike that takes over 500 feet above at its highest point. From the Hantwick Road Trailhead, you’ll come across several waterfalls and some slippery slopes. Lucia Falls isn’t to be missed, and honestly, you kinda can’t miss it. The sprawling falls are along the way to the trail on the Clark County Scenic Driver. Another fun side quest on the Moulton Falls Trail is the Bells Mountain Trail to get an epic view of the landscape.
Round Lake Loop
Round Lake Loop is where all the cool dogs go. This 1.4-mile loop is a gentle path around the lake that features diverse views and plenty of space for the four-legged friends to run free. The paved path turns to gravel as you go on toward the lake. In addition to the lake, you get to see a pretty cool dam on your way through this hike. The old trees soar above you and the lake looks extra beautiful in the spring when the vegetation comes to life. Picnic tables offer a nice place to sit and have lunch and the trail is quite shaded and cool.
Lacamas Lake Heritage Trail
With 300 acres to explore, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for on the Lacamas Lake Heritage Trail. The trail itself mostly stretches through wooded areas that are perfect for wildlife watching in the springtime. Lacamas Lake hosts even more critters and offers a nice place to relax after the trek there. The lake eventually narrows to reveal a meadow that’s the epitome of serene. The full hike along the Lacamas Lake Heritage Trail is seven miles out-and-back. Time your hike to get a glimpse of the setting sun peeking between the trees for a real treat! ‘
Dog Mountain Trail
Dog Mountain Trail is such a hot spot in the spring that you’ve got locked down a permit to hike here on the weekends. Make no mistake, this is not an easy hike by any means. You’ll have to work for every step of the 6.5-mile journey that it takes to make it to the top of the mountain. Once you overcome the steep elevation and daunting switchbacks, you get rewarded with a view of Portland from a casual 3,000 feet. The wildflowers are the main draw of the summit and the snow-capped mountain range in the background provides a nice touch. Be sure to get here early if you want a parking spot and a decent chance at beating the crowds.
Whipple Creek Park Loop Trail
It’s only two miles, however, the Whipple Creek Park Loop Trail feels like a never-ending adventure. The main trail holds its own as a pleasant walk through well-marked paths that are easy to maneuver. You’ll hit a few down trees as is custom for a forest, but nothing that you can’t hop, skip, or jump over. The lavish forests found here are the pride of the Pacific Northwest, and the Whipple Creek Loop Trail’s dense vegetation eventually gives way to open meadows. For your convenience, there’s a portable bathroom at the trailhead.
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