As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers and that time is upon us now! After our long winter being kept indoors by cold weather and COVID, we’ve been waiting a long time to get outside. If you’ve had visions of yourself running through meadows of wildflowers like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, then this is your chance. Our bounty of spring wildflowers have been eagerly awaiting the ground to warm so they can open their leaves and petals. They hit their peak blooms during May and June and dry up quickly in the summer heat, so get out there now since they won’t be around long! Bring along a field guide book to see how many you can identify.

Here are some places in Southwest Washington for spring wildflower hikes, ranging from easy to difficult.

*Check ahead for current conditions and permit requirements.

Lacamas Heritage Trail
25 min. drive – Easy
Directions: Take Hwy 14 to SR 500 in Camas; turn north on SR 500 to NW Lake Rd. Turn left on Lake Rd. The trailhead will be 0.3 miles further on the right. A parking lot and restrooms are available here. There is also a trailhead at the upper trail end at NE Goodwin Rd. and NW Underwood St.

Here you can find the flower that Camas was named after, the Camas Lily. The 312-acre park surrounds Lacamas and Round Lake. Follow the trails until you find the tiers of rocky meadows radiating with purple blooms.

Catherine Creek
1 hr. & 25 min. drive – Easy
Directions: Take Hwy 14 to mile post 71 and the junction with Old Highway 8 (County Road 1230) on the left. Turn left onto County Road 1230 at Rowland Lake and follow it 1.4 miles to the Catherine Creek parking lot on the north side of the road.

The multi-use 3.5-mile trail is popular for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders of all skill levels. The site was formerly a ranch before being acquired by the Forest Service to protect native plants, the unique arch formation, and other sensitive resources. Go on a sunny day for views of Mt. Hood!

Cape Horn
30 min. drive – Moderate to Difficult
Directions: Travel east on Hwy 14 to milepost 26.4, Salmon Falls Road. Turn left (north) on Salmon Falls Road, then immediately right on Canyon Creek Road and park in the Park and Ride parking lot. Take the trail across Salmon Falls Road from the parking lot.

Cape Horn attracts hikers for its stunning views and cascading waterfalls as the six-mile loop overlooks the river at about 1,200 feet. Check ahead for trail closures for nesting peregrine falcon protection.

Coyote Wall
1 hr. & 20 min. drive – Moderate
Travel east on Hwy 14 to milepost 69.7, Courtney Road. The trailhead is just off the highway on the east side of Courtney road.  Park in designated parking spots only and not along Courtney Road or Highway 14.

This unique trail is unshaded, offering views of wildflowers such including grass widow, prairie stars, yellow bells, camas lilies, and balsam root. The trail is about 6 miles with different loops and options as you make your way to view the magnificent syncline wall.

Dog Mountain
1 hr. drive – Difficult
Directions: Take Hwy 14 east to Mile Marker 53 and watch for the trailhead sign.

Beyond the steep switchbacks through the tree cover, you’ll find meadows of yellow balsam root blowing in the breeze. If you can make the 2,800 ft hike from there, you’ll be blessed with panoramic views of Wind Mountain, Mt. Hood, and the Columbia River.


Share This