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Lake Sacajawea Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Fall color shoreline, Lake Sacajawea (bobcat)
Sacajawea and Pomp statue, Lake Sacajawea (bobcat)
North fountain, Lake Sacajawea (bobcat)
Ginkgo leaves, Lake Sacajawea (bobcat)
The loop around Lake Sacajawea Park, Longview (bobcat) Courtesy: 'Google Maps
  • Start point: Nichols Boulevard TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Japanese Garden Island
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 3.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 35 feet
  • High point: 15 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes

Contents

Hike Description

The City of Longview, Washington, the brainchild of timber baron Robert A. Long of the Long-Bell Lumber Company, was conceived by him to accommodate and provide services to the large number of employees in his logging operations and mills. In fact, Longview, incorporated in 1921, was the U.S.’s only planned city of the 20th century, and the first planned city of its size in the world to be built entirely with private money. Central to the plan was the conversion of the Cowlitz Slough (a.k.a. Fowlers Slough) to a linear park bordered on each side by leafy boulevards named for George Kessler and Jesse Nichols, two of the project’s principal planners. The area was named Lake Sacajawea Park. In the 1950s, Frank Willis, the city’s Parks and Recreation director, began the process of adding trees to the verges of the lake and creating an arboretum. The arboretum is an especially colorful experience in the fall as many of the plantings are deciduous trees from eastern North America and east Asia. There is a regular summer concert schedule at Lake Sacajawea Park.

From the restrooms and covered picnic shelter on Nichols Boulevard, begin walking clockwise under spreading basswood trees. A circular trail, with a few short diversions, takes you around the lake. Note that the Solar System Walk, which has plaques for nine planets, runs along this side of the lake also. Head down to the right from a junction to pass under the 20th Avenue bridge, and then rejoin the main path. Near a Norway spruce, drop down again from the next junction to the lakeshore and pass a covered fishing dock near the water. Across the way, see a peninsula jutting into the lake. Reach the principal trail again and, a few yards later, descend to pass under the turquoise Washington Way bridge. Pass another fishing dock and get a view across to Lions Island and its totem pole. At another fishing platform, there’s a large sycamore. Then reach a junction, where you can go right to visit the Perennial Garden. Back on the main path, walk under a beautiful mossy-cup oak and, at a small plaza with a statue of Sacajawea and her son Pomp, pass by the only pedestrian bridge across the lake.

Continue under big-leaf maples, pass a bird identification sign, and admire the red maples, which blaze brilliantly in the fall. Reach a grove of London plane trees and then go right to drop below the Louisiana Street Bridge. See the two islands at the north end of the lake, one of them with a Japanese Garden. Reach Ocean Beach Highway (Highway 4) and take the railed path at the north shore, viewing a gushing fountain in the lake waters, before turning south to walk the east shore of the lake. Kessler Boulevard runs to your left. Reach the entrance path to the Japanese Garden, on an island that had reverted to blackberry thickets until the Weyerhauser Company donated the funds to make it a formal garden. If the torii gate is open, you can take a short tour around the island to visit its Japanese maples and sculpted pines.

Back on the loop path, pass under three redwood trees and then drop under the Louisiana Street Bridge. Pass some tree topping poles, used in logging competitions, and then the Azalea and Rhododendron Gardens, to your left and right respectively. Go right towards the pedestrian bridge and then head along the shore past a fountain and a large fishing dock. There are restrooms and a playground up near Kessler Boulevard. Next, pass the gated path onto Lion’s Island (The gate may be locked) and then descend under the Washington Way bridge. You can visit a narrow peninsula planted with cherries and maples before reaching the Ellis War Memorial Building. The gate into the fenced yard is usually open as is one of the restrooms here. Drop again under the 20th Avenue bridge and then circle around the south end of the lake to get back your vehicle.


Maps

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Dogs on leash

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hiking Mount St. Helens by Craig Romano & Aaron Theisen

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Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.