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Columbia Springs Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

East Biddle Lake (Steve Hart)
Vancouver Fish Hatchery (Steve Hart)
West Biddle Lake (Steve Hart)
Double-crested cormorant, West Biddle Lake (bobcat)
Wildlife viewing blind, Cedar Circle Trail (bobcat)
Trails and walking routes at Columbia Springs (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Columbia Springs TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: East Biddle Lake
  • Trail Log: Trail Log (Biddle Lake excursion only)
  • Hike Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • High point: 100 feet
  • Elevation gain: 165 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Year round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

There are several walking possibilities leading east and west from the Vancouver Fish Hatchery that offer a variety of opportunities for a family stroll: quiet lakes, birdwatching, wooded nature walks, and views of Columbia River estates.

The trailhead is on the grounds of the hatchery. Walk into the fish hatchery and head past the buildings on the sidewalk. There's a plaque here noting the facility's CCC construction history and a set of bathrooms that might be the cleanest in town. Just past the round fish ponds, turn right and head downhill a little to a large cedar. Make a left, and follow the graveled path eastward. The path passes between a rectangular set of fish ponds on the right and a larger, abandoned set on the left now overgrown with reeds and grass. When you come to the dam forming West Biddle Lake, amble out onto the wooden walkway. This makes a good place to relax with a good book.

Return to the trail and head uphill to the north, past a new building constructed in 2009 by a volunteer organization. Take the smaller footpath leading east just past the building. The trail weaves up and down below several of the springs that give the area its name of "Columbia Springs". There are short boardwalks and sections of rocky fill. There's a longer bridge at mile 0.3 and another dam, as well. The trail switches back once and enters an old field. The path ends at the far side of this small field at a wooden lookout platform over East Biddle Lake. An earlier path led farther east from here, but now you need to travel back the way you came.

At the longest footbridge, you can take the left fork and take a different trail on the south side of West Biddle Lake back to the fish hatchery.

For a walk from the west end of the parking area, take a paved trail that branches right and see the sign for the Trillium Trail, a numbered interpretive trail one-third of a mile long. This chip trail drops down through snowberry bushes among maples and cedars with the Indian plum leafing out in profusion in early spring. After a boardwalk, reach a junction and go right into a bottomland where skunk-cabbage flourishes. The trail winds up in cedar, maple, holly, alder, and Indian plum woods. The tread then drops alongside a gully and reaches the junction, where you go right.

At the next junction, go right and pass a grist mill display. The paved trail heads west next to Evergreen Highway. Just before the I-205 bridge, a footbridge crosses a stream and there’s a fence remnant and gate. The Cedar Circle Trail heads into the Biddle Nature Preserve from here. Cross a footbridge and reach a junction, where you go right in alder, maple, cedar, salmonberry, and snowberry woods. Pacific waterleaf and nettle form the main components of the forest carpet here. Pass a deteriorating blind constructed by Eagle Scouts. There are numbered posts showing this was once an interpretive trail. The path loops around and drops past another blind right under I-205. This blind is in better shape. Reach the junction, and go right down to Evergreen Highway.

For a pleasant street-side stroll, turn right here and head along the highway on its north side, passing under the monstrous Glenn Jackson Bridge. You'll see El Swampo, a house on the left, and some wetlands fronting a development on the right. Pass 115th Court and then some Heritage Trees: two monkey puzzle trees and a large western white pine about 175’ tall. These three trees are about 150 years old. Cross the highway on a marked pedestrian crossing and continue west on the other side. Cross 113th Court, and then reach an open space to get views of mansions below and Government Island with its satellites, Tri-Club and Lemon Islands. You can continue to the junction with Ellsworth Road and return.


Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Trails and trailhead close at dusk

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Take a Walk: Portland by Brian Barker
  • Urban Trails: Vancouver by Craig Romano
  • Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine by Michael C. Houck & M.J. Cody

More Links


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.