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Lacamas Park - Lacamas Creek

Lacamas Park is a diverse natural area with a surprisingly 'wild' feel for a park this close to town. Picnic by the lake, check out the Camas meadow in bloom, or explore the forest and creeks along the many trails. This hike describes a "lollipop" loop starting at the south end of the park, visiting the Lower Falls, then circling around through the park past Round Lake and returning along Lacamas Creek.

Lacamas Park is ideal for a quick fix of crisp Gorge air. Amid streams and waterfalls swelled winter’s runoff, you’re sure to forget the quaint Camas downtown is but a few minutes away.

The park has a diverse mix of interconnected trails that can be linked together in many different ways. For this hike, start from the 3rd Avenue trailhead. If you’re not paying close attention, it’s easy to drive right by and never know this hidden little oasis exists here. Right away, the path parallels Lacamas Creek, often busy with blue herons, standing like statues hunting their next meal. The path is wide and graveled with some rolling ups and downs as it works its way to a picnic spot and Lower Falls. Watch for mushrooms in the forest duff. Cross the bridge, where the trail splits, hiking in a counter clockwise loop will take you uphill for roughly 50% of the excursion, saving the best of the sights for last.

Follow the trail, here an old gravel road, taking time to explore the small offshoots. While the main loop trail is open to bikes, the side trails are hiker-only and are clearly marked. As you approach Round Lake, veer off to the left, skirting the southwest section of the lake, where the path narrows again as it winds against the steep shore. You’ll see where it leads up to the small dam and towards the main entrance (main parking lot/restrooms/playground/picnic areas). Rather, take the junction to hike back southeast, following Lacamas Creek and peering down at The Potholes from above. The pools and rock in this area are an interesting feature of the 312-acre park, but also easy to pass by, so keep your eyes on the water as you pass through this section.

If the sun peeks out during this time of year, it is likely to do so here, where the trees are a bit open and the angle right for soaking up some sunbeams. From here, the trail continues, narrow and winding, often muddy in the winter months, as it enters an area of cedar and lush vegetation. Remember, this is a quick outing, so just as the going gets really good, you’ll find yourself back at the bridge at Lower Falls. Turning right, follow the wide path back to the trailhead.
Driving Directions:

From Vancouver, drive SR-14 east to Camas, Exit 12. Follow the exit road 1.4 miles to town and then continue straight on 6th Avenue for six blocks to Garfield Street. Turn right onto Garfield, and go down the hill three blocks then turn left on 3rd Avenue. Follow 3rd Avenue 0.4 miles to a small paved road on the left just before the bridge over Lacamas Creek. Turn left and drive down the hill to the trailhead gravel parking lot.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 3 trip reports for this hike.
Lacamas Lake Park — Apr 07, 2014 — PatriciaC
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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This is a jewel of a hike for a quick get-away to enjoy nature. The trail follows Lacamas Creek up t...
This is a jewel of a hike for a quick get-away to enjoy nature. The trail follows Lacamas Creek up to its exit from Round Lake. The trail quickly enters a forested area where the sound of traffic was quickly replaced by bird songs and the whisper of the creek. Wild flowers were blooming, adding visual surprises along the trail. I saw phlox, avalanche lilies, thimble berries, Oregon grape and many more flowers I couldn’t identify.

The views of the creek from the trailhead are surprisingly good, making it hard to imagine being so close to a busy city street. As soon as the trail entered the forested area, I immediately felt dwarfed by towering moss-covered trees and the sword-fern understory.

In just over a half a mile, the trail comes to Lower Falls and a picturesque wooden bridge crossing the creek just above the falls. The bridge offered decent views, but I followed a side trail downstream to experience the full impact of the water tumbling over the falls.

When I got to the lake, I extended the hike by taking the loop around the lake with a side trip up around the Camas Lily Fields loop. Although there was no sign of the flowers yet to come, the loop was worth the climb. I was expecting something open like the top of Dog Mountain, but the trail dipped into and out of forested areas and meadows. This was surprisingly beautiful, and worth doing over.

On the way back to the trailhead, I got trapped in the labyrinth of trails in the park and ended up in places I hadn’t planned on going. I had downloaded a map from the park website, but there were paths and roadways that were not on the map, making it difficult to navigate. Next time, I’ll try always heading towards the water when I come to surprise junctions.

This would make an excellent date-night adventure, especially when followed by a stop at the Mill City Brew Werks in downtown Camas.

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Lacamas Lake Park — Mar 21, 2014 — badbacker
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Water on trail
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Started out at the bridge at Lacamas lake and walked the 1.39 mile trail to 3rd street on the east ...
Started out at the bridge at Lacamas lake and walked the 1.39 mile trail to 3rd street on the east side of Camas and back about a 3 mile round trip.Another awesome hike. If you din`t know were you are. you would think you were way out in the forest some where far from town. When you walk it for the first time like me. you just cant whate to get home a tell someone about it. Trail was in very good shape. Thanks to all who help keep it that way. Lots of spots to stop and relax next to the creek. High fast running water this time of year, and lost of water falls.
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Lacamas Lake Park — May 15, 2011 — Ryan Ojerio
Day hike
Issues: Water on trail
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After stopping by the produce store on NE Everett to pick up some snacks, Lola and I parked at the p...
After stopping by the produce store on NE Everett to pick up some snacks, Lola and I parked at the picnic area at Round Lake. From there we hiked around the lake taking in the camas loop trail taking a little over an hour including a bottle stop for Lola and lots of picture taking for me.

This was the first visit for us to the camas fields and it was spectacular, we will definitely be back each spring to see them! In addition to camas we saw quite a few trout lilies. The trillium have come and gone, but it looks like lupine are coming up next. We also saw lots of poison oak in the open areas on the camas lily trail!

Being a weekday afternoon we didn't see anyone on the camas trail and only a couple other people on the lake trail even though the parking area was nearly full.

Aside from the poison oak, this is a great hike for kids. While the trail around the lake is inviting to strollers, the dam at the south end of the lake has a narrow walkway with a railing so you'd have to carry your stroller over your head to cross it.

The camas lily trail is closed to bikes and not at all suitable for strollers as it is very rocky in places, so bring your baby in a backpack or Ergo. The camas lily trail is also wet and muddy in spots so wear appropriate shoes so you can stick to the trail and spare the flowers growing along side it.
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photo1_large.jpeg
Photo by Ryan Ojerio.
Location
South Cascades -- Columbia Gorge
Vancouver-Clark County Parks
Statistics
Roundtrip 4.5 miles
Elevation Gain 350 ft
Highest Point 400 ft
Features
Rivers
Lakes
Waterfalls
Fall foliage
Wildflowers/Meadows
Wildlife
User info
Good for kids
Dogs allowed on leash
No pass or permit required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge. Craig Romano. Mountaineers Books. 2011
USGS Camas, http://www.cityofvancouver.us/parks-recreation/parks_trails/trails/pdfs/lacamasparktrail.pdf

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Red MarkerLacamas Park - Lacamas Creek
45.589364 -122.392031
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