We all know that Clark County is an amazingly beautiful place year-round. Surrounded by mountains, forests, and the exquisite Columbia River Gorge, one could spend a lifetime wandering the routes and trails in this scenic wonderland. While that may be a goal for many of us, the reality is that we might be able to escape to a trail just once a month, connecting with the wilds of our region. And, with our unpredictable and often wet weather dashing those plans, you may feel stuck inside all too often. To help, we have found a few hikes for all kinds of weather, making sure you always have an option to get outside and enjoy the classic trails found around Clark County.

Clark County Trails scenic Dog-Mountain-Trail
Erupting in wildflowers each spring and showcasing panoramic black year round, Dog Mountain is one of the best gorge hikes. Photo credit: Jeff Hollett

Sunny Days

On sunny days, when the snow is long gone, there are three trails that you need to explore to take in the gorgeous views and stunning sights around Clark County. For sweeping views of the Columbia River, without the crowds, consider hiking up Cape Horn. At 7.2 miles round trip and 1,300 feet of elevation gain, the trail delivers breathtaking views up and down the Columbia River. Be aware that the lower part of the trail is closed from February 1 through July 15 for nesting peregrine falcons.

North of Clark County, there is no greater summer destination than the sights and waterfalls found at Lewis River Falls. While you can hike a short distance to the Lower Falls, there is a longer trail that shows why this is one of the premier waterfall trails in the Pacific Northwest. Those hoping for an adventure around Mount St. Helens should go to the Lava Canyon Trail. At five miles round trip, this trek rewards you with an amazing suspension bridge, cascading water through lava canyons and incredible views. If you haven’t hiked Lava Canyon, add it to your list today!

Rainy Days

Clark County Trails scenic Inside-Ape-Caves
Inside the Ape Caves near Mount Saint Helens, underground adventures become memorable family outings. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

Rainy days are inevitable and are a part of life around Clark County, but they shouldn’t be a reason to retreat indoors. Instead, we have three destinations that get even better in the rain, providing us with the perfect escape into nature during. We start with the always scenic Moulton Falls. While great in the sun, after a rain or in the mist, Moulton Falls becomes spectacular. Capped off with a picturesque bridge, this four-mile roundtrip trek shimmers in the rain. Flat and passing under trees, the trail is easy for all and is often described as feeling like a hike in a fairytale landscape.

In Vancouver, the Cougar Trails are a great rainy day trek, weaving through the forests and along extremely well-maintained trails. With six miles of routes and minimal elevation gain, these paths should become your go-to spot for urban hikes.

We also recommend checking out Lewisville Park, Clark County’s oldest park. Offering three miles of trails wandering through the forests along the East Fork of the Lewis River, including picnic shelters if the rain starts really coming down, the trail here is scenic, relaxing and ideal for a rainy day walk.

Snowy Days

Clark County Trails scenic Lewis-Falls
Breathtaking and easy to get to, Lower Lewis Falls is a perfect adventure in nearly all seasons and weather. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

When the temperature drops and snow starts to fall, many of our favorite hiking areas become inaccessible. There are a few that are year-round favorites, though, each worth exploring. Battle Ground Lake’s Lower Trail might be the perfect destination for your winter walks. At less than a mile in length, this trail circumnavigates the lake and gives you impressive views of it, even more stunning in a dusting of snow or when partly frozen. The park has five miles of hiking trails for those looking for something a bit longer.

Lacamas Park is the location of a short hike that leads to a seasonal waterfall that is best seen in the winter. Known as the Woodburn Falls Trail, the two-mile round-trip trek starts at the Lacamas Park Trailhead and works its way to the waterfall. The falls are a little tricky to get to, but totally worth exploring.

In the winter, birding at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is incredible, with eagles, swans, geese and numerous other winged species flocking to the region. With a two mile long trail for your hiking desires, this spot is sure become a welcome winter retreat.

Local Classics

Clark County Trails scenic Beacon-Rock
Full of incredible views and stunning trail sections, Beacon Rock is a classic short hike. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

Finally, we end with three classic hikes that are stunning year after year. The first is hiking Dog Mountain when the wildflowers are blooming. Extremely popular, this trail requires a permit on the weekends from April to July, but it is worth it. At six miles round trip, this is the best wildflower trek in the region.

 

Another classic is the Ape Caves trek. Offering two trails, one easy at three-quarters of a mile in length and one much harder, requiring scrambling and squeezing, at a mile and a half in length, the caves are perfect for sunny or rainy days. Constantly at a temperature of 42 degrees Fahrenheit, with water dripping from the cave ceiling, a raincoat, hat, good shoes, flashlights and extra batteries are required to complete this trek.

One more is the short and steep trail up to Beacon Rock. For about one mile, the trail climbs up this geological beauty on a rock path, paved sections and wooden bridges, many of which seem to precariously cling to the rock. From the top, the views are breathtaking and worth the slight vertigo some might experience.

This list of local hikes and walks is the perfect way to make sure you get into nature year-round, no matter the weather. And bring your camera, the Pacific Northwest puts on an incredible display that is definitely photo-worthy. Capture a cool shot? Share it with us at submit@clarkcountytalk.com.

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