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Lacamas Park - Round Lake to Lower Falls

Southwest Washington

Location

Southwest Washington -- Vancouver Area
View map below

Length

3.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 190 ft.
Highest Point: 200 ft.

Rating

4.67 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2019
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 
 

Lacamas Park is a surprising swatch of forest between Camas and Washougal where you can easily take time out to relax and enjoy nature. The park has over six miles of trails, with both wide-hard surfaced paths and more primitive dirt tracks. This loop hike combines both types to give you the optimum experience while exploring a lake, creek, and two waterfalls. There is also an optional side trip to visit the Lily Fields, which are infused with purple camas blossoms from mid-April to mid-May. Although there are some heart-thumping uphill sections, the hike is generally easy and appropriate for reasonably fit people of all ages.

There is a labyrinth of trails in the park, and it’s easy to end up someplace you didn’t intend to go. Be sure to print a copy of these instructions and download a map or snap a photo of one at the trailhead. Keep in mind, though, that many of the trails do not show on the map.

The hike begins at the southern end of the Round Lake picnic area. In about 0.3 miles, you will come to a screening device and a dam. The screening device was built to keep fish and debris out of the water supply for the paper mill, and the dam serves as Lacamas Creek’s outlet from the lake. Cross the screening device and then the dam, ignoring side trails to the right until after you cross the dam.

After the dam, skip the primitive trail to the right and continue on to the second trail to the right. This 0.6 mile unmarked trail will take you to the Pothole Falls Overlook and then on to Lower Falls. When the water is low in the summer, Pothole Falls has some interesting geological features. You can see a pair of round pools and weirdly pockmarked bedrock. Floodwaters created the curving, smooth shapes by swirling rocks in depressions in the soft rock.

After checking out Pothole Falls, return to the trail and continue downstream to Lower Falls. The trail follows the creek from the top of a ravine before dipping into a lightly forested area with small streams. The trail then rejoins Lacamas Creek where you are treated with the sights and sounds water cascading over rocks. Ignore side trails and keep on this trail until you come to a picturesque wooden bridge crossing the creek at the top of Lower Falls.

Although this hike doesn’t include the bridge, it is worth taking some time to explore here. Cross the bridge to take in the falls from the top and perhaps stop at the picnic area on the west side of the creek for a snack. You may also want to take a side-trail downstream on the east side of the creek to experience the full impact of the water tumbling over the falls.

After exploring the falls, return to the east side of the creek and go uphill on a wide hard-surfaced path. You will soon come to a junction with signs pointing to Round Lake and to an access road. Go towards Round Lake. You will then come to two dirt trails to the left. Skip the first one, and take the second one, which has a small marker indicating it goes to Round Lake. This 0.4 mile shortcut is much more peaceful than continuing on the main path. The trail enters a forest with bracken and sword ferns in the understory and cedar and vine maples overhead. Ignore side trails and stay on the main trail.

When you come to another hard-surface trail, turn left to return to Round Lake. Along the way, you will see signs for the Camas Lily Fields loop on the right. If you would like explore the loop, turn right at the first sign. The 0.7 mile Lily Fields loop climbs up a hillside, then dips into and out of forested areas and meadows where the camas lilies blossoms are resplendent mid-April to mid-May.

If you would like to skip the Lily Fields, continue on the hard-surface trail to the second sign for the Camas Lily Fields. Turn right for the scenic shortcut path to the Round Lake Loop Trail. You will come to a junction with the Round Lake Loop trail, which is also where the optional Lily Fields side trip ends. Turn right and follow the hard-surfaced trail 0.7 mile to the trailhead on 35th Avenue. The first section is a hilly up and down trek through the forest, but the second section is a peaceful walk through wetlands near the lake. When you get to 35th, turn left and return to your car.

WTA Pro Tip: After your hike, you may want stop at the Lakeside Country Store for a dipped ice cream cone or have a picnic in the park. You may also want to venture into Camas for a treat at Burgerville or a microbrew at the Mill City Brew Works.

 

Lacamas Park - Round Lake to Lower Falls

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 45.6039, -122.4071 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Southwest Washington -- Vancouver Area

Clark County Parks

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge. Craig Romano. Mountaineers Books. 2011.

100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington (4th Ed)

William L. Sullivan

Navillus Press

2013

Clark County Website:

http://www.clark.wa.gov/publicworks/parks/lacamaslake.html

Getting There

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 left and follow “Hwy 500 West” signs for 1.2 zigzag miles to Lacamas Park. The hike begins at the southern end of the picnic area at Lacamas Park. If you cannot find a parking place, drive north to NW 35th Avenue and turn right for the overflow parking lot.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 

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Lacamas Park - Round Lake to Lower Falls

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