Do you feel like getting away from it all, but just don’t have that much time? Does hiking, biking, a nature walk, or a picnic sound about right? Or maybe some canoeing, swimming, or fishing is more your style? Just for an hour or two, including travel time? It’s not a dream. We have not one, but 6 lakes, each within ½ hour drive of downtown Vancouver.
Our favorite is Lacamas Lake (plus Fallen Leaf Lake and Round Lake) in Camas, WA. These three lakes, and some of the surrounding area make up the Lacamas Lake Regional Park and Lacamas Heritage Park. These two parks offers all of the activities listed above, and it’s less than ½ hour to get to from downtown Vancouver. The websites for Lacamas lake Regional Park and Lacamas Heritage Park give all pertinent information. Make sure to check which parking areas offer access to the activities you plan to enjoy. There are over 6 miles of trails in this park system with lots of tree cover, canoes and kayaks can be rented, and the play/picnic areas are fabulous. Check before coming if you plan to swim, as swimming may not be possible if there are algae blooms.
The other three lakes that are close are Battleground Lake, Klineline Pond, and Vancouver lake. Battleground Lake; in Battleground, WA offers a small, but very deep, round volcanic crater lake circumvented by a hiking/biking trail, swimming, boating, fishing, picnic areas, play grounds, and an adjoining campground. Klineline Pond, located in the Salmon Creek area offers a small beach area with swimming, a large play area and picnic area, and a sprinkler play area. Fishing is allowed, but no boating. Lake Vancouver on the West side of the city offers large sandy beaches, shallow swimming areas, kayaking/canoeing, picnic areas, play areas, and volleyball areas.
Please check websites for more specific information, such as water conditions, whether or not a lifeguard is provided/on duty, or if there are fees to park. And as with any water fun, please remember safety. Use sunscreen, and pay close attention not only to your children, but everybody around you if you are going in the water (or have small ones wandering near water). Drowning is often a silent killer, so don’t expect to hear if one of your children, friends, or others around you have trouble. Keep your eyes open and have fun!