Deeded to the city of Camas, Washington, by the local crown Willamette Paper Company (now the Georgia-Pacific paper mill) in 1925, the 40 or so splendid acres of land that make up present-day Lacamas Creek Park might as well have been a gift to Portlanders. Home to sprawling groves of old-growth Douglas firs and rare specimens of Oregon white oak, the compact reserve—and the adjoining 300-acre-plus lacamas park—now constitutes a bona fide urban wilderness located just 20 minutes from the rose city. Rocky meadows set high above rushing creek waters teem with early- season wildflowers such as powder blue camas lilies and delicate white-and-gold trilliums. Osprey stalk the glassy waters of round lake near the park’s eastern boundaries. But the cornerstone attractions are Lacamas Creek’s three waterfalls. As winter’s snows melt, the typically mild- mannered falls become thundering aquatic drums, the most dramatic of which is the potholes—a 20-foot-tall cascade that engulfs a wide mass of mossy basalt rock that’s been pockmarked with giant holes by the relentlessly swirling current.
DON'T FORGET: Your mountain bike. Other than the Camas Lily Loop, the trails are open to cyclists.
POST-HIKE WATERING HOLE: Twilight Pizza Bistro. Doughy, hand-tossed pizza is the draw inside this welcoming downtown Camas storefront. Stacked with enticing ingredients like barbecue sauce, andouille sausage, applewood-smoked bacon, or spicy Thai peanut sauce with green onions and carrots, the pies are as inventive as they are filling. 224 NE Fourth Ave, Camas; 360-833-9222
TRAILHEAD DIRECTIONS: From Vancouver, travel east for 12 miles on State Highway 14 and take exit 12. Drive 1.4 miles and turn right at a flashing four-way stop. Continue for another three blocks and turn left onto NE Third Avenue. The trailhead is on the left, just before Lacamas Creek. No fees or permits required.