Each year, as the daylight hours dwindle and the rainy, gray skies move in overhead, we find ourselves longing for a blanket, a good show and to snack on the treats of the holidays. Initially, we feel good about our choices, but soon we start getting cabin fever. Hearing the call of the wild get louder and louder, we remember that the rain is nothing new. Despite the dampness, we find our rain jackets, hats and our waterproof shoes and start searching for a rainy day hike.
Pacific Northwest residents have a relationship with the great outdoors that we can’t ignore, and, for those of us that need to get outside, even in the rain, Clark County proves it has more than enough breathtaking destinations. Dodging the raindrops and puddles as best we can, we explore incredible rainy day hikes around our region. While nearly every trail is special and unique during the rainy months, there are seven trails that we love and want to share, perfectly encapsulating the beauty of our backyards. Hike one or hike them all, and reconnect with the saturating splendor of Clark County’s trails.
At just 2.6 miles, is a short, family-friendly hike that is a classic destination in any weather. Highlighted by a stunning footbridge, a picture-perfect waterfall and views of the Lewis River, rainy day hikers will enjoy seeing this typically slow-moving section of the river turn into a hydrological wonderland. A few days after heavy rains, especially in the fall and spring, the river and falls become a tumultuous cascade of water.
Biddle Nature Preserve and Columbia Springs
Blending a neighborhood walk with a nature hike, walking around the makes for a fun trip on the rainiest of days. At just 1.6 miles in length, this short, flat and easy trail is one of the many outstanding destinations in the Clark County Park. With wooden platforms giving you up-close looks at Biddle Lake, and a trail that weaves through local plants of all shapes and sizes, this is both a great leg stretcher and a fun educational trek for families with young kids.
Vancouver Lake to Frenchman’s Bar
Sure, this path is a 10.5-mile round-trip hike, but the trail from is mostly flat and is very family-friendly. An eight-foot-wide bike path snakes its way through stands of cottonwood trees and farm land, letting you walk from Vancouver Lake to the Columbia River and back. With tons of migratory birds visible from the trail, as well as a potential for seeing seals and sea lions in the Columbia, this flat hike is perfect to see the animals of the region.
The Ape Caves
This hike will keep you mostly dry no matter how heavy the rainfall may be. Known as the , this hike near Mt. St Helens is underground. Offering two varying levels of hike in the old lava tube, the Ape Caves are one of the most unique hiking destinations in the Pacific Northwest. Year round, the tubes are 42 degrees in temperature and — aside from a constant dripping here and there of water — mostly dry. To hike this, you’ll need a headlamp, gloves, warm clothes and a sense of adventure. Families will enjoy the short, wet trek to the base of the stairwell, while more intrepid souls can pick between the two-mile, out-and-back Lower Cave trail or the much longer and more difficult 2.7-mile Upper Cave Loop Trail. Before heading here, make sure you have all the gear you need. This is not a walk in the park.
Cougar Trails at WSU Vancouver
Often overlooked, the has some of the greatest local hiking trails around. Whether you are looking for trails to run, hike or wander with your kids, this place has something for you. Offering four loops of varying distances and terrains, you can make this your rainy day basecamp. For shorter walks, we suggest the Green Loop, as it is just 1.3 miles and all on a paved surface. Those needing a much longer walk should make the Red Loop part of their routine, as it showcases the entire region along the 4.6-mile trail. On rainy days, these trails are mostly empty, and you might even find dry patches on the trail where the forest canopy is the thickest.
Out near Camas, those hoping to see the power of the falling water should head off on a short hike that leads to a seasonal waterfall. Known as the , the two-mile round-trip trek starts at the Lacamas Park Trailhead and works its way to the waterfall. The park has a few other trail options, as well, making this a great place for a multi-destination hiking day. The falls are a little tricky to get to, but totally worth exploring after a heavy rainstorm hits the region. If this seems like too much, hike the 1.5-mile Round Lake Loop hike at the same location.
Battle Ground Lake’s Lower Trail
Looking for a fun drive to a short and family-friendly hike around a gorgeous lake? might be the perfect destination for you. At less than a mile in length, this trail circumnavigates the lake and gives you impressive views of it. While it looks mostly untouched, the lake is one of the most popular parks in the region, but not on rainy days. As rain clouds return, you may find yourself outnumbered by ducks and geese. The park has five miles of hiking trails for those looking for something a bit longer.