Full of natural beauty, exploring in and around Clark County will leave you in awe. While each season brings something unique and gorgeous to the landscape of our home region, the return of the wildflowers is an event that continually inspires wanderlust and adventure. Each spring and summer, as the gray vanishes and is replaced with the stunning blue skies, the ground becomes a vibrant tapestry of color. From the banks of the mighty Columbia River to the tops of the mountains that offer panoramic bliss, the wildflower bloom of Southwest Washington is one of the best excuses to get out of the house and hit some of the region’s remarkable trails. Whether you want an easy walk with the family or are longing to stand on a ridge line and recreate the iconic scene from The Sound of Music, there is a trail waiting for you. While the ever-popular Dog Mountain is the obvious choice for great wildflower viewing in Clark County, we have five other locations that are sure to delight the anthophile in your life.
Along the eastern side of Clark County, surrounded by the suburban landscape of Camas, an oasis of wildflower bliss is awaiting your adventurous spirit. Full of trillium and the town’s namesake flower, your best bet for wildflowers is found along the Lacamas Park Lily Field Hike. At just 2.3 miles and almost completely flat, this family-friendly trail on a wide, gravel path is an ideal introduction to the wildflowers found around the region. In and out of the forest, the Lily Trail will have flowers blooming all spring and early summer, giving you a chance to see new flowers numerous times over the year. Important to know: There is some poison oak on this trail, so keep an eye open for it and make sure to not touch the plants!
Tom McCall Preserve
Across the Columbia, over in Oregon, the Tom McCall Preserve is another great place to head out with the family to see fields of wildflowers. Located near the iconic and scenic Rowena Crest overlook, the areas’ two trails vary in difficulty. The one-mile plateau trail is easy, a bit more rugged than Lacamas Park, but still manageable for nearly all ages. The two-mile long McCall Point Trail, which opens in May is much harder, gaining over 1,000 feet of elevation. The Nature Conservancy loves both trails, calling the area “one of Oregon’s most impressive displays of spring wildflowers…with more than 200 plant species, including grass widows, prairie stars, shooting stars, balsam-root, lupine and Indian paintbrush thrive here.”
Located east of Clark County along the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Catherine Creek is a stunning area for spring wildflowers. The National Forest Service describes Catherine Creek as one of the premier viewing areas for wildflower viewing along the eastern Columbia River Gorge, making the drive to Lyle well worth the trip. Your best bet for a gorgeous hike is the Catherine Creek Arch Loop, a two-mile round trip trek and gains just 300 feet in elevation. Family-friendly, the wildflowers here draw botanists from around the area, as the wildflowers bloom in waves throughout the spring and early summer months. If you are hoping for warm weather, incredible views and seemingly endless wildflowers throughout the warm season, this is the destination for you!
Dalles Mountain Ranch
Also out east is the Dalles Mountain Ranch. Once private, this now public stretch of land is a fantastic early spring wildflower destination, seeing bloom enthusiast from Portland and even Seattle. Much more rugged than the previous hikes mentioned, this early season trail will become a spring tradition each year. Your best bet for jaw-dropping wildflowers is found along the 6.9 mile Dalles Mountain Ranch Loop Hike. Gaining over a thousand feet, this hike isn’t too difficult, but not ideal for younger kids who aren’t used to being on their feet and hiking for more than a few hours. Full of Balsam-root, lupine and cushion fleabane, hiking here for the first time will leave you wondering why you didn’t know of this destination earlier.
Extremely kid-friendly and always stunning, Oregon’s Trillium Lake Loop Trail is a Pacific Northwest classic hike. Sure, you’ll have to take a short road trip over the river and through the woods to get here, but this trail delights both young and old equally. The trail is also mostly stroller friendly, helping all abilities to get out and see the natural beauty of the region. What makes this trail so great is that once the snow melts and the warmth returns in the spring and early summer, the 3.6-mile round trip loop has numerous trillium blooming all around, nearly distracting you from the awesomely gorgeous views of Mount Hood reflecting off the pristine waters. This is yet another must-hike trail and is one that is sure to bring a smile to everyone’s faces.