Feel like a road trip but don’t have the time or the gas money to go too far? A quick getaway just north of Vancouver, the Northern Clark County Scenic Drive takes you off of Interstate 5 and onto twisty two-lane roads through rural Washington. The 70-mile loop skirts past farmland, waterfalls, and historic sites.
While it can be done in a couple of hours, road-trippers might want to give themselves plenty of time to stop and explore places like Moulton Falls Regional Park, Cedar Creek Grist Mill, and Pomeroy Farm, a living history farm with weekend events and a winery. Established in 2007 by Clark County to boost tourism in less populated areas, the tour has signs directing drivers on a counterclockwise route. Word of advice? Take along printed directions or a map anyway—cell service can be spotty, and once you’re away from the interstate gas stations are few and far between. Also check before you set out to make sure the attractions you want to visit are open that day.
From exit 11 off of I-5 northbound, toward Battle Ground, where food and drink options include Hidden Rive Roasters (a coffee shop with quick bites set in a restored 1928 brick church) and Barrel Mountain Brewing. The Clark County Scenic Drive really begins once you hit the less commercial 503 toward Lewisville Regional Park, though Daybreak Regional Park and Battleground State Park are also easy detours. Clark County’s oldest park, Lewisville Park has nature trails and sits on the East Fork of the Lewis River. It’s a popular swimming and tubing haven on hot days—pack your swimsuit in summer, as there are more splash spots on the loop.
The road gets curvier (and prettier) as you parallel the river, past colorful houses along NE Lucia Falls Road toward Pomeroy Farm, established in 1910 and still run by the Pomeroy family as a living history farm and nonprofit. June through August, the farm welcomes visitors the first weekend of the month to explore the grounds, which give you a taste of pre-1920s rural life with a working blacksmith shop, antique farm equipment, and an inviting 1920s log home. The community event also has live music, food trucks, and animal petting for the little ones, along with local vendors selling arts and crafts. (On June 25, the farm is hosting its fourth annual Supper and Social, a ticketed fundraising event that helps support community programs and building maintenance.)
Right up the hill next to the farm is Pomeroy Cellars, a tasting room in a picturesque two-story house with photo-worthy views of the surrounding Lucia Valley. The family-owned and operated winery has a tasting room with an outdoor patio that looks out toward the farm, with wines by the glass or flight. Small bites are available, but you’re also allowed to bring your own picnic. Try the Lucia No. 47 Red (also a staff favorite), a robust blend of cabernet, merlot, and Shiraz.
A couple of miles down the road from the farm is Lucia Falls Regional Park, worth a stop to do the mile-long loop and get a snapshot of the namesake falls. Moulton Falls Regional Park (another worthy day trip on its own) has 2.5 miles of forest-covered trails that connect to Lucia Falls Park. Situated at the confluence of the East Fork Lewis River and Big Tree Creek, Moulton Falls Park has plenty of swim spots, two waterfalls, and picnic tables for snack breaks.
Continue on along the loop up to Moulton Falls Winery & Cider House for a selection of crispy wood-fired pizzas, wine, and cider. To stay on the loop, pass the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad (a volunteer-run heritage railroad) and then turn left onto NE 399th Street toward the North Clark Historical Museum, set inside a 1910 church with exhibits about logging history, Native American, and pioneer life.
The route veers left onto NE 221st Avenue into the small town of Amboy, passing local watering holes and mom-and-pop shops before you eventually reach the intersection at NE Cedar Creek Road. Make a left here, and zigzag along a windy road that eventually takes you past rolling farmland to the next stop, Cedar Creek Grist Mill. A covered bridge leads to the (very tiny) parking area. Only open on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., the mill is probably one of the most photographed sites along the whole drive. Originally built in 1876, it’s been restored as a museum and is a chance to see the inner workings of an old water-powered mill. Watch as volunteers mill grains the old-fashioned way. You can even take home your own bag of fresh flour or cornmeal. The last Saturday of the month, there’s usually something delicious on offer, from strawberry shortcake in June and blueberry pancakes in July to the grand cider pressing (with 10,000 pounds of apples!) in October. Can’t make it there on the weekend? You can park and take your snapshots of the scenic grist mill any old time.
Continue along NE Cedar Creek Road, meandering past yet more bucolic scenery, and consider a detour to the Lelooska Foundation, about a half hour drive. Created in 1977, the foundation has educational programs, museum tours, and workshops about the history and culture of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) people, who lived in what is now British Columbia, Canada, along the coastline between Vancouver Island and the mainland.
The last leg of the tour is on the west side of I-5. At the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, get a glimpse of swans, hawks, and songbirds, to name a few. The two-mile Oaks to Wetlands Trail is open year-round, and is lined with Oregon white oaks (a sign details the history of one tree that’s 400 years old) and soundtracked by birdsong. Along the trail you’ll also find the reconstructed Cathlapotle Plankhouse.
Complete the loop at Whipple Creek Regional Park, a 300-acre patch of tree-covered forest with 4.3 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails that offer a peaceful stroll. Or cross back over I-5 to make a stop for hand-breaded halibut and chips and house-made clam chowder at Pacific Northwest Best Fish Co. Then hop back on I-5 for the short drive back to Portland.