Lacamas Lake Regional Park in Camus, Washington is a short drive from Portland, and a popular afterwork destination for Vancouver area locals looking to ride their mountain bikes. It’s been on our radar for sometime as a spot to check out; however, the bulk of online write ups focus on paved and graveled trails leading to scenic overlooks of the lake, waterfalls and dam. The park also contains sections of extremely good single track.
Although Portland is known as a hub for outdoor and cycling enthusiasts as well as providing jobs for those in the industry, it completely lacks in “real” mountain biking. Driving to go mountain biking means allocating a minimum of two hours in the car, plus fuel costs. Finding trails not covered in a layer of snow this winter has become a challenge, making it time to investigate new options, and we’re glad we did. The local trail system features a wide variety of experiences, suitable for all levels of mountain biking.
Getting there, was a relatively short 15 mile drive from our home base in the Gateway District. The drive by car took 24 minutes, making it the shortest commute to “real” mountain biking we’ve found to date in the Portland area.
On my first visit to the park, I had extremely low expectations. My frame of reference for urban mountain biking in the last year has been Powell Butte and Forest Park, which rate a “C-” in terms of the mountain bike user experience. Descriptions online describe river and lake trails, and based on Portland references, I debated which bike to bring. I considered my 29″ hardtail, and even my dirt jump bike. In the end, I brought my 5″ travel trail bike, which is the go-to machine for all around trail riding. It was the right call as I had a blast.
Our ride began with some short but punchy climbs, before pedaling into a welcome thread of single track that bobbed and weaved throughout the woods. Happy place found. But then it got better — much better — encountering a section of rocks that provided fun technical challenge.
That was followed up by a number of flowy single track descents that left me whooping all the way down. Mission accomplished.
Although the overall mileage is fairly low, as a close in destination, it fits the bill. With traffic being as bad as it is these days, it’s unlikely to be a frequent after work destination for those of us coming from PDX, but it is nice having another option that doesn’t require a full day’s commitment simply to ride our bike.
Riding the spiderweb of unmarked trails could be confusing; thankfully I had a local to show me the best sections of the park. Thanks to Chris Daniels (@chrizdan) for the tour, as well as being the trail model.
Searching for details of the park online is a bit misleading, as the best single track mountain biking is actually found in the Round Lake area, adjacent to Lacamus Lake.
- Six miles networks of hiking and biking trails
- Non-motorized boating
- Majority of single track trails are multi-use
- No parking fees – were eliminated in 2013
Camas Bike & Sport is the closest bike shop, should you need one.
Learn more at www.clark.wa.gov/public-works/lacamas-lake-regional-park