With the start of every new year comes the hope for more time with our family in the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest. For those of us who call Clark County home, we have incredible adventures right outside our doors.
Whether you stay close to the familiarity of your own backyard parks, or long to explore a bit further away, we have compiled a list of ten destinations that are sure you get you out and about this year. Of course, before hiking any serious trail, and always be prepared.
Clark County Hikes
Waterfront Renaissance Hike
Along the river, the is the perfect trail to get your legs active and to start getting in hiking shape. For five miles, this paved trail shows off Mount Hood, the Columbia River and the I-5 and I-205 bridges.
If you love forests, water views and even a few hidden waterfalls, is the destination for you. With six miles of trails leading to numerous destinations, this area is a perfect local getaway for hikers of all ages and abilities. Located in Camas, the trails here are great year-round and are a fantastic place to train your legs for longer day hikes.
One of the easiest and best five-mile, round-trip hikes in Vancouver is the path connecting Vancouver Lake to the Columbia River. Known as , the walk along this section of the town lets you feel far from the hustle and bustle of traffic and stress. With no real elevation gain and chances to see sea lions, birds and more, walking here will whet your appetite for something even more rugged and wild.
One of the most-overlooked quality trail systems in Vancouver is found at the WSU Vancouver campus. Known as the , the six miles of paths are beautiful and well-maintained. With four options of loop trails, ranging from 1.3 miles to 4.6, you are sure to find the perfect distance for you and your family.
Just Outside of Town Treks
Quite possibly one of the most memorable hikes on the Columbia River Gorge, the trail leading to is a must. At a little less than two miles round trip, this short hike makes you earn the stunning views, as you must climb 600 feet in elevation. Using a boardwalk with handrails, the trail is exposed and may cause those with height issues some problems. However, if you do complete this hike, it will encourage more adventures in the region.
This spring, when wildflowers start to bloom, you must hike the . All of your training on the previously mentioned trails will have you ready for this hike, which is 6.9 miles round-trip, gaining 2,800 feet of elevation. While tiring, you will be rewarded with great views and seemingly endless fields of Balsamroot, which look like miniature sunflowers.
Klickitat Rail Trail
After tackling Dog Mountain, reward yourself with the flat and scenic Klickitat River Trail. While the first section of this trail is 31 miles long, a fantastic, 10.5-mile, out-and-back that will leave you in awe. Gaining just 200 feet in elevation, the trail shows off wildflowers, river views and wildlife sightings. This trail is also fun for those with little ones, as it is easy to follow and has good distractions.
The Ape Caves
At 13,042 feet long, the is the longest lava tube in the continental United States. Hiking here is fun year-round, and the old lava tube is a constant 42 degrees, making this a great place to explore both on hot summer days or as a relatively dry place to go during the rain and cold of winter. With — both requiring flashlights or headlamps, sturdy shoes and good clothes — this family-friendly adventure is sure to be a favorite. While the longest route is just 1.5 miles, it will take over two hours because you are hiking in the dark, climbing over rocks and through narrow passages.
Washington Bucket List Trails
Climbing Mt. St. Helens
If you want to stand atop one of America’s most famous volcanoes, you are in luck. Each year, to hike the steep slopes of this impressive mountain. Gaining 4,500 feet in five miles to the top, this hike is for adventurers looking for a challenge and a great reward. The views from the top into the steaming dome and around the entire Pacific Northwest are second to none, making this a bucket list hike for 2018.
Walking the Rainforest and Wilderness Coast
If you want to get a true feel for the wilds of Washington, look no further than hiking the rainforests and wilderness coastline of Olympic National Park. The wilderness coast is 73 miles in length and as wild as it gets, while regions. The best hikes in the region , with numerous possibilities of long and short day hikes and backpacking trips for all ages and abilities.