Parks, trails offer outdoor fun close to home

Activities abound for hikers, swimmers, skaters, equestrians, dogs



photoFelicia Beaston of Scappoose, Ore., walks along the East Fork of the Lewis River in Lewisville Park north of Battle Ground.

(/The Columbian)

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Top Parks and Trails

• Moulton/Lucia Falls

• Esther Short Park

• Waterfront Trail

• Lewisville Park

• Burnt Bridge Creek Trail

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The Vancouver-Clark Parks & Recreation Department’s nearly 7,300 acres of park lands, 66 miles of trails and more than 80 ball fields should be enough to provide a spot of recreational activity for all of Clark County’s residents.

But in case it isn’t, the department also has equestrian trails, recreation centers, dog parks, swimming holes, boat launches, dog parks, tennis courts and a disc golf course for folks to use.

The district, a joint agency funded by the city of Vancouver and Clark County, has drawn national attention for its 10,000-square-foot BMX and skate park in east Vancouver’s Pacific Community Park.

It’s helped protect historic locations such as the heavily used Lewisville Park, which was built as part of the Works Progress Administration program in the 1930s, and opens access to 154 acres along the East Fork of the Lewis River.

Along with outdoor adventures such as waterfall view hikes and bicycle only trials, the district offers up plenty of indoor activities as well. Indoor rock climbing and waterslides are available at Firstenburg Community Center, the Marshall Community Center offers up a community pool and the Vancouver Tennis Center is available for anyone looking to work on their backhand.

Combined with the Senior citizen offerings at Luepke Community Center, the indoor facilities bring in more than 1 million visits each year.

The district is facing lean years. Budgets have been reduced, reducing staffing levels. Last year, voters in Vancouver turned away a proposition to fund a Vancouver Metropolitan Park District with increased taxes.

Still, the district continues to tackle ambitious plans for recreation development, such as a river trail which would help navigate boaters and kayakers along the county’s waterways.