Vancouver, WA: Round Lake

Get a quick outdoor fix without the long drive on this 3-mile loop that circles a small lake, visits two waterfalls, and offers dazzling spring, summer and fall colors.
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Get a quick outdoor fix without the long drive on this 3-mile loop that circles a small lake, visits two waterfalls, and offers dazzling spring, summer and fall colors.

One of the great things about the Portland/Vancouver area is the abundance of urban and suburban parks offering the chance of quick escape without a long drive. Several locations will immerse visitors in dense woodland, replete with gurgling streams and waterfalls, shady old growth, and plenty of seasonal color. Lacamas Park, a mere 20 minutes away is just such a place.

Park in the small lot on the east side of Highway 500 across from Lacamas Park, and walk up to the trail board near a picnic area and small playground. Pass both and start on a wide gravel trail through fir forest on the Round Lake trail. The path soon crosses a fish screening apparatus, then traverses a concrete dam. From the dam, there are nice views across Round Lake and down the Lacamas Creek channel, pocked and gouged by ancient floods. Stick to the path along the lake to a junction and veer right, staying along and above the creek bed. At the next junction, veer right again along a fenced area with views below to Pothole Falls and more pocked and terraced creekbed. Follow the fence to the end, and keeping right to take the rough trail over mossy lava outcrop. After a short exposed area, the trail dips into wooded cover of maple and hemlock.

After a half mile, the trail meets a wide bridge over Lacamas Creek. Cross the bridge only for views of the gouged creekbed and Lower Falls below, but do not continue to the other side. Instead, stay on the east side of the creek, fork up to the left, away from the creek on old forest road for 100 yards to a trail marked "Access Road" climbing up to the left. The trail climbs to meet another old forest road where you'll turn left and meander under shady trees back toward Round Lake. If visiting in early spring, take the side Lily Loop trail on the right for a pretty display of blue camas lilies; or if water runoff is high, take the short spur to the left to 50' Woodburn Falls.

Back at Round Lake, keep to the right through a couple more trail junctions to complete the loop around the lake. A small platform along the way offers views across the lake. Continue around to the north end of the lake where the trail diverts away, then ends at paved sidewalk. Turn left to the end of the block at Highway 500, then another left back the parking area and your starting point.

Mapped by Eli Boschetto Bosco Mountain Photo

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 4.7

Waypoints

RND001

Location: 45.603515, -122.406782

Round Lake trailhead. Head SE past playground and picnic area to pick up trail.

RND002

Location: 45.601466, -122.40411

Round Lake Dam.

RND003

Location: 45.601106, -122.404179

Fork left to stay on lakeshore trail.

RND004

Location: 45.600385, -122.40365

Fork left again to stay along lakeshore trail.

RND005

Location: 45.599377, -122.402264

Fork right, away from lake heading downstream.

RND006

Location: 45.598635, -122.40211

View the "potholes," large holes in the lava rock river bed, and a small waterfall. Continue along fencing to next junction.

RND007

Location: 45.598536, -122.401231

Fork right, over mossy lava outcrop, staying along and above the creek.

RND008

Location: 45.597264, -122.394701

Take quick detour to view the creek bed gouged in the bedrock, and small falls from a high bridge.

RND009

Location: 45.597429, -122.394529

Take the left fork up an old service road, away from the creek.

RND010

Location: 45.597061, -122.392966

Look for a faint trail heading up off the road to the left.

RND011

Location: 45.600191, -122.390193

Come to a junction with another old service road; turn left.

RND012

Location: 45.601802, -122.393754

In springtime, take a detour on the Lily Loop.

RND013

Location: 45.601148, -122.395393

Depending on the time of year and the amount of water flowing, take a short spur trail to XXX falls.

RND014

Location: 45.600185, -122.397967

Fork right to stay on lake loop.

RND015

Location: 45.600688, -122.399218

Another right fork.

RND016

Location: 45.6024, -122.401691

Nice viewpoint at the shore of Round Lake.

RND017

Location: 45.60328, -122.403527

Fork left and continue along lakeshore.

RND018

Location: 45.604821, -122.403848

End of trail. Turn left on sidewalk and follow back to parking area.

Round Lake

Location: 45.602577, -122.405205

View across Round Lake, near dam.

Dam Crossing

Location: 45.601623, -122.403992

Cross two sections of dam on the Round Lake trail.

Potholes

Location: 45.601278, -122.404218

From the dam, view the potholes in the creekbed below.

Fall Trail

Location: 45.597284, -122.400355

In fall, colorful XXX leaves blanket the Round Lake trail.

Pothole Falls

Location: 45.598718, -122.401686

View a small waterfall and pothole-scoured creekbed from the trail above.

Creek Crossing

Location: 45.597465, -122.395334

To stay on the trail, don't cross this bridge, but do go and take a look at the pocked and scoured creekbed, and Lower Falls below.

Lake Loop

Location: 45.598906, -122.391386

The eastern section of the Round Lake trail climbs through shady forest.

Old Road

Location: 45.600918, -122.396407

A portion of the Round Lake trail uses an old gravel service road.