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Rock Creek Campground

If you’re lucky enough to live in the Vancouver, WA area, you are lucky indeed, because you have Rock Creek Campground almost in your backyard.

Rock Creek Campground is in the Yacolt Burn State Forest, just 20 miles outside of Battle Ground.  Popular with day riders and horse campers alike, Rock Creek provides access to some truly delightful trails.Rock Creek Campground

The Tarbell Trail, on the way to Larch Mountain.

The Riding:

The Tarbell Trail is a 25-mile loop trail that runs through the campground, exploring the nearby hills and providing access to other trails in the area.  The Yacolt Burn State Forest is a working forest, so as you ride you’ll travel through shady forest, through tree plantations of all ages, and through clear-cut areas with abundant wildflowers and panoramic views.Rock Creek Campground

Cedar Creek Falls
From Rock Creek Campground you can ride to Cedar Creek Falls, a small but pretty waterfall about three miles from the campground.  From the falls, you can continue along Cedar Creek for a nice 10-mile ride.Rock Creek Campground
Bells Mountain Trail
Or you can ride up onto either Bells Mountain or Larch Mountain, with their excellent views of Mt. St. Helens and the Dole Valley below you.Rock Creek Campground
Hidden Falls

You can ride to the spectacular Hidden Falls, which drops 92 feet off a rock ledge into a pool right next to the trail bridge that crosses the creek.  It’s easily the most scenic spot in the entire Yacolt State Forest.

The Tarbell Trail system is popular with mountain bikes, so keep a sharp eye out as you ride.  We understand that the Washington Department of Natural Resources is working with local trail groups to create some new bike-only trails in the area, which should take some bike traffic off the existing trails.  They’re also working on a trail that will go directly from Rock Creek Campground to Hidden Falls, dramatically shortening the distance to the falls (right now it’s a 17-mile out and back ride) and creating a loop ride opportunity for equestrians.

Getting There:

From 1-5, take Exit 11 (Battle Ground) and head east on Hwy. 502/NE 219th St.  In 6 miles turn left on Hwy. 503/NW 10th Ave.  Continue 5.6 miles and turn right on NE Rock Creek Rd.  In 0.3 mile the road name changes to NE 152nd Ave.  In another 1.2 miles the road veers left and becomes NE Lucia Falls Rd.  About 8.2 miles after turning off Hwy. 503 you’ll pass Moulton Falls Park.  In 0.3 mile after that, turn right on NE Sunset Falls Rd.  Continue 2.0 miles, then turn right on NE Dole Valley Rd.  Drive another 5.0 miles and turn left into the campground.  A tiny brown sign on the right indicates the entrance.Rock Creek Campground

Rock Creek Campground

Campground Facts:

Rock Creek Campground offers very nice equestrian camping facilities, with 13 of its 19 sites allowing horses.  Each equestrian site has a 2-horse corral (some in a 4-horse configuration shared with an adjacent campsite), a fire ring, and a picnic table.  Most sites are pull-throughs, and several have room for two trailers.  The campground has vault toilets, manure bins, stock water troughs, and a camp host.  It also has two small day-use parking areas, an accessible mounting ramp, and a group shelter with barbeque grills.   Discover Pass is required for overnight camping or for day-use parking.  The campground and trails are open year-round, though the trails can be muddy and slick during the rainy season.

More Information:

The riding at Rock Creek Horse Camp is covered in more detail in Riding Southwest Washingon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel.  (Ponderosa Press, 2016).

Reprinted with permission from Northwest Rider Magazine, February 2017.

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