Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NE ~ WSU Campus

Date visited: May 21, 2008
Agency: Washington State University
Path Surface: Paved, bark chip and gravel
Elevation gain/loss: 250 ft.
Distance: Variable, up to four miles on “Cougar Trails”, route described is about 4 miles
Ratings: Setting ++ Calorie-burning +++
Directions: From I-5 or I-205, exit at NE 134th St in Vancouver. Follow it eastbound and it changes to Salmon Creek Avenue. At skinny little NE 35th Ave, turn left and park. Walk back to Salmon Creek Ave and turn left to the WSU Entrance Rd. Cross the entrance road to a wide asphalt path just beyond the WSU sign.

Nice paths, mountain views and campus art, mixed with a bit of nature greet you on this very pleasant walk.

From the beginning of the path, follow it uphill toward the main campus, along a small oak savanna, fields, over the bridge in a wooded area, and ring the Wailing Bell along the way. As you approach campus (see campus map) head generally west toward Orange Parking 1, but feel free to wander on campus and look at the artwork at various locations. There's also a nice picnic area as shown on the map.

When you reach Orange Parking 1, take the steps at the northeast corner and follow the trail as it curves to stone viewpoint behind the amphitheater for those mountain views. Continue following the path, veering right at intersections until you return to the paved road. We have heard savanna sparrows in the grassy field to your left. Follow the road down hill, cross unmarked NE 159th Ave and turn left.

At this point, switch over to the map of “Cougar Trails,” noting that these are on-site at various points. Continue down 159th to a path that veers right, away from the road and at the edge of the field. Again, wander as you like, but we generally follow the ABCDEF to A loop. This will take you farther down hill to a wetlands area, then a nice view of Mill Creek (pictured above) and then back up hill through a woodsy area (this portion of the trail can be muddy). Several birds populate this entire area. Follow the path at the edge of another grassy area, where we have spotted a blue heron, to 159th, turn left and follow the road back to its intersection.
On our latest visit, there was significant construction in this area, so it is difficult to describe the return route with any certainty. The main campus is ahead of you, so find the wide pedestrian/bike path you came in on, turn left downhill and return to your vehicle.

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