Don’t pass up this local gem for hiking, swimming and year round camping [ngg_images gallery_ids=”36″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_imagebrowser”]
photos by todd gunderson
Battle Ground Lake State Park feels a world way, especially in the winter, with the fog settled on the water, dew in the grass and only the hushed sounds of anglers on the docks. Only 20 minutes from Vancouver, right outside Old Town Battle Ground, this 280-acre park collects a day-use fee of $10, and is really worth it, especially for large and small family gatherings, day hikes and horseback riding, not to mention the lake itself.
One could easily spend the day down at the picturesque lake, which is of volcanic origin and considered to be a smaller version of Oregon’s Crater Lake, according to information provided by Washington State Parks. The spring-fed lake is stocked with trout, and when we were there, a pair of fishermen were practicing fly fishing on the banks.
For hikers and families, the trail around the lake is rustic and wet and full of creatures and mushrooms to identify. It’s an infinite adventure for small feet and fingers. The trail follows or dips down right to the water in many places, and my kids were so enthralled with the riparian area that I had to drag them out of there even though it was only 50 degrees and we were all freezing.
Battle Ground Lake State Park is a year-round campground with ample facilities, but the jewel of the off-season are the four lake-facing cabins among a grove of Douglas fir trees. Each cabin is 12-by-24 feet in size and accommodates up to five people. My only complaint is that it is nearly impossible to find out how much a cabin rents for, and you have to create an online identity at washington.goingtocamp.com
before you can learn fees or reserve cabins. Since fees change from year to year and season to season, I recommend calling 888-CAMPOUT to learn more and reserve. This park has 25 standard campsites, six hookup sites and 15 primitive sites that require campers to hike a quarter- to a half-mile from the parking lot, along with group accommodations and horse camping. The primitive sites are $12 and prices go up to almost $40.
Battle Ground Lake State Park is less popular than other local parks because of the fees, but it is truly a gem, and worth a visit or a stay.