It's somewhat surprising that more Portlanders do not know about this rather exceptional urban park. Variety in terms of terrain and trail is one of this 325-acre park's greatest attributes. Anyone can find something to suit their desires at Lacamas Park.
While there are many notable parks in the Portland-Metro area, few Portlanders have heard of the 325-acre Lacamas Park. Just over the Columbia River in the town of Camas, WA, what could be considered the crown jewel of urban parks in the area, Lacamas Park sits in relative obscurity. Due to the varied flora of the area, there may not be a better place to enjoy all four seasons locally. An assortment of deciduous trees in the forested parcels of the park put on an enticing fall foliage display, while the meadows and rocky areas come alive with flowers through spring and summer.
What Makes It Great
A series of interconnecting trails provide running options that vary anywhere from a 1 to 6 mile loop. The diverse beauty of the park can be discovered by following the paved path to the southern end of Round Lake, and into the heart of Lacamas Park. Here, the terrain is remarkably varied. There are tranquil creek areas, stands of old-growth forest and open meadows. The path goes from duffy to hard-packed with roots, to open meadow, to rocky, to gravel. The trail will immediately parallel Lacamas Creek. Cross the bridge where the trail splits.
This is a loop so either way works, though the recommended way is right. You will approach Round Lake where you should veer left, skirting the shore, which will lead you to a dam and the main park entrance. Continue on to the park if a break or picnic is desired, otherwise, follow the creek southeast to peer down at the pools and rock features. Soon the trail will wind back to the bridge and you can take that back to the car. The trail has a couple of long elevation gains/loses, but most of it is mild undulations.
If you make it to the park starting in mid-April and throughout the spring, you will catch the Camas Lilies in bloom, which are a spectacular view and named for this area, as well as other wildflowers. This is a quick escape from city life, even though downtown Camas is just a few minutes away.
For food and drink consider Twilight Pizza Bistro in Camas. It has an eclectic menu centered on Italian and American fare and there is a good selection of bottled beer.
Who is Going to Love It
The easy grade of this trail makes it accessible to all trail runners, no matter their experience level. The trails are linked together in many different ways, so the runner can decide how long or short to make his route.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get to the trail described above from Portland, take I-205N to exit 27 toward Camas. Merge onto WA-14 E and take exit 12 for Camas and continue on NW 6th Ave. Turn right onto NE Garfield St, then turn left onto 3rd Ave, just three blocks away. After about .4 miles there is a paved road on the left just before the bridge. Take the left down the hill to the trailhead gravel parking lot.