Each June, as the weather starts getting warm and the daylight hours are at their longest, we get to celebrate not only the grads of the region, but also the dads in our lives. Most Father’s Day activities tend to revolve around having a BBQ, going to a ballgame or something else in the same vein, but this year we are hoping to inspire and encourage families to head out into the great outdoors around Clark County. Throughout the region, we are surrounded by wilderness beauty of all types, giving the perfect adventure dads who are nature enthusiasts. Whether you are looking for an epic view of the Columbia River, a quiet night camping in the woods next to a waterfall or a memorable bike or paddle adventure along the scenic waterways of the area, the perfect Father’s Day trip is just a short drive from home.
There are hundreds of hikes around Clark County that are amazing, but there are two that are sure to be favorites for those looking for great views of the Columbia River Gorge. While Dog Mountain gets all the fame and glory during the spring months, thanks to wildflowers, both Cape Horn and Beacon Rock provide equally impressive views without the same amount of crowds. Cape Horn is a new classic, leading to impressive views of the river after gaining 1,350 feet along the 7.1 mile round trip trek. For those looking for something a bit easier, and perhaps more family-friendly, Beacon Rock is an amazing hike and is just 1.8 miles round trip. It does gain 680 feet of elevation, but does so along incredible walkways. For families with young kids, head to the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge and hike the 2.8 mile Gibbons Creek Wildlife Trail. Here, you’ll enjoy hawks, eagles, and more than 200 species of songbirds and waterfowl.
Not a hiker? Don’t worry, there are plenty of incredible places to bike around the region. While you could stay in Vancouver and ride along the beautiful, 5-mile long Waterfront Renaissance Trail, we highly recommend heading east along the Columbia and checking out the incredible Klickitat Rail Trail. While the whole trail is 31 miles in length, Washington Trails Association has highlighted a 10.5-mile round trip ride that is perfect for all levels of bikers. Highlighting the changes of terrain between the east and west side of the state, this trail is warm, scenic and well-maintained. For those looking for some mountain biking fun, hit up the Bells Mountain Trail, starting at the Lucia Falls Trailhead. Head to the top before enjoying a 1.5 mile awesome, flowing, single-track downhill section to Moulton Falls.
Clark County is known for its amazing waterways and the best way to experience those is with a trip to Ridgefield Kayak. Sure, you could buy a boat and find someplace to go with it, but going to Ridgefield Kayak takes all the guesswork out of trying to have an amazing day. Open seven days a week, offering tours and rentals, heading here allows you to explore the waterways around the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, the Columbia River, Lewis River, Bachelor Island, Lake River and even Vancouver Lake. Ridgefield Kayak also has Stand Up Paddle-boards (SUP) and tandem kayaks, ensuring everyone will have a great day on the water.
Set next to a breathtaking waterfall and miles of trails, the Lower Lewis Falls Campground should be your go-to destination for camping near Clark County. With campsites surrounded by trees, you’ll have some relative solitude in this popular campground. While you may need to reserve a campsite here, planning ahead is totally worth it, as the recreation opportunities here are fun for all. The highlight, of course, is the short trail to the always stunning Lower Lewis Falls, which is a great destination for swimming, wading and enjoying the historical waterfall in its glory. The area is also great for catch and release fishing, where you can hook rainbow, cutthroat, and bull trout. Mountain bikers and hikers flock to this area often, as it provides numerous trails and routes for all abilities.
For those looking to get out of the late spring sun, no place is as cool as the Ape Caves near Mount Saint Helens. Constantly at 42 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter what the temperature is outside, these old lava tubes make for a fun hike for all ages. With two cave hiking options, one easy and short, one much more extreme and long, exploring the dark cave is extremely unique. The Ape Caves are an amazing place to explore, as they are the third longest lava tube in all of North America and are over 2,000 years old. If you haven’t explored them yet, grab a few flashlights, extra batteries, warm clothes and get underground.