Tuesday, December 07, 2004

NE~Washougal Dike/Steigerwald Lake

Date last visited: December 8, 2004
Agency: Port of Camas/Washougal
Path Surface: Gravel- vehicle wide
Elevation gain/loss: minimal
Distance: 3.5 miles one way

Ratings: Setting +++ Calorie-burning +++
Directions: East of Vancouver on State Route 14, to Washougal. Right (south) off the highway at 15th to Steamboat Landing. GPS 45 34.568N, 122 22.698W

This wide trail on top of the Washougal Dike parallels the Columbia. During the first part of the walk, you will want to look south, unless you are fascinated by all things mechanical. The man-made vista can be mitigated by looping to the south on the floating walkway at Steamboat Landing. Look for the interpretative signs as you come back up onto the viewing platform.

Continue east after returning to the top of the dike. The views of the river are especially good now with less foliage on the trees.

At 32nd St., we walked down to Cottonwood Beach, where Lewis and Clark camped for six days in March and April of 1806. We didn't return this way, but it looks like you can continue east on the beach and loop back up to the dike at 35th St.

Consistent with Washougal's location at the edge of suburbia, the trail from this point east become increasingly rural. Passing by the last of the factories and a train switching area on the left, the trail edges an immense open field where we observed both a red tail and a harrier hunting. At about a mile and a half from 32nd St., we stopped to watch hundreds of lesser scaup fly from a pond in the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge across the path to the river. The whisper of a thousand wings overhead made the whole walk worthwhile.

We also saw bufflehead, mallards, Canada Geese, a kestrel, flicker, downy woodpecker, and ruby-crowned kinglet along with house finches and chickadees. We had reports of sightings of deer, fox and coyote at dusk.

The open portion of the trail ends just as you reach Steigerwald Lake, off in the distance to the north. Map.
October 2006 update: Interpretive and directional signs, plus a new viewing platform have been added to this trail.
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