A Walk in the Park: Lacamas Park

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Sometimes when I leave the house for a hike, I don’t thoroughly prepare. Life feels too hectic to take an extra thirty minutes to check all my gear. I just want to be on the trail. Shocking, I know. Sunday was such a day. I threw on trail runners and my old worn out hiking pants, grabbed a backpack with stale water, leashed the pup, and drove to Lacamas Regional Park outside Camas, Washington. An acquaintance had said there wasn’t much reason to go hiking there, but I wanted to check. The map I found had looked interesting.

Lacamas Lake is a long narrow lake with one developed trail along its southwest side.  Although it’s pretty, I will admit that the lake looks rather ho-hum for hiking. Across the road at Round Lake, on the other hand, there is  a whole system of trails circumnavigating the body of water and ranging into the woods beyond.  loops A variety of casual and moderate loops are possible. The main round-the-lake trail is essentially an access road in many places. Offshoots, however, can be much more challenging, especially in muddy conditions. I encountered steep grade more than once.

The park has three healthy waterfalls. That was a lot of white water in a medium-sized park. Shortly after leaving the dam at the outlet of the lake, I heard a bird of prey crying. It was way up a many-limbed snag. I tried to get a better angle and zoom in with the camera, but I was only partially successful. I could not identify its species, but I was sure it was not a red tail hawk, perhaps the most common raptor in our area.

For a weekend, there was only a smattering of other hikers, mostly near Lower Falls, which is impressive indeed. It’s not a steep drop, but it feels massive from the footbridge across its lip.  Beyond the popular areas,  there were a few intersections with no signage, and the map didn’t quite match the world.  I made an educated guess and plunged down a steep path to a muddy valley. It was a happy mistake, as I came upon Woodburn Falls, the third waterfall of the day. It was perhaps the prettiest of all, conjuring a smaller version of the famous Ramona Falls on the west side of Mount Hood.

Lacamas Park had a full parking lot, but the crowds were well dispersed.   A number of people  were fishing, and some were birdwatching. I saw at least one mountain biker.  This would be a great place to go for a run. The official lake loop is 1.2 miles, but with additional lops to waterfalls, you could easily add three or four more miles.  This would also be a great place to canoe or kayak. While the trail along Lacamas Lake itself may not be spectacular,  there is plenty of  exercise to be found in the regional park, so consider a visit.

I had not prepared for much, so I certainly got more than anticipated. The weather had looked iffy early, but it was almost perfect until the end. I got some great sunny moments to light up green, gold, and brown of the ubiquitous moss. As I finished the lake loop, mist started to fall. Good timing. It was a perfect way to end the hike-almost as if I’d planned it.

About Josh Baker

"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir

Posted on March 31, 2014, in Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, Hiking with dogs, Navigation, Outdoors, Photography, Solo Hiking and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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