Northwest riders nearly always enjoy a week or so of warm, sunny weather in late February– a welcome break from winter’s gray, rainy skies. It’s a fine time to ride, but where? Trails can be a sloppy, muddy mess in February, if they are open at all.
If you’re lucky enough to live in the Vancouver area, Whipple Creek Regional Park offers very nice year-round riding – even in February!
Located just a mile west of the Clark County Expo Center, Whipple Creek Park is what the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation District describes as an “undeveloped regional park.” True enough, the park has no ball diamonds and no manicured lawns. Instead, it features a delightful network of single-track trails through a forest of mature Douglas-firs, maples and cedars. The park boasts 4.3 miles of interconnected loops that explore 300 acres of land around Whipple Creek. All of these trails are open to horses, hikers, and bikes.
The park’s trails run beneath huge trees, through a small meadow, along Whipple Creek, and past the remains of the historic stone grist mill that once operated here. Trail signs are color coded to correspond with the park map (www.clark.wa.gov/sites/all/files/public-works/Parks/WhippleCreekTrails.pdf) so you’ll always know where you are. As you ride, keep an eye out for wildlife, as herons, hawks, woodpeckers, deer, flying squirrels, and beavers all make their homes at Whipple Creek Park.
The Whipple Creek Park trails were built a number of years ago without benefit of modern trail-building techniques, so in winter the trails used to be a muddy, slippery mess. But local volunteers have spent countless hours and many thousands of dollars to rebuild the trails and gravel them to create a more sustainable tread. The result is that many of the park’s trails now provide excellent footing year round. More remains to be done, however, and your involvement (personal and/or financial) can help to further improve the park’s trails. Go to www.whipplecreekparkrc.org for more information.
In the meantime, give the trails at Whipple Creek Park a try. You’ll be glad you did!
The Riding: From the parking area at the end of NW 21st Avenue, pick up the trail that heads south past the kiosk. You’ll be on the Blue Trail, which connects with several other trails to form loops of whatever length you like.
Trail Statistics: Whipple Creek Park has 4.3 miles of non-motorized trails, with elevations of 100 to 200 feet. The riding is easy, and the trails are shared with hikers and mountain bike riders. Because some of the trails are surfaced with gravel, hoof protection is recommended. There is no stock water on the trail.
Getting to Whipple Creek Regional Park: From I-5, take Exit 9 and head west on NW 179th St. In 1.5 miles, turn left on NW 21st Avenue. Parking is at the end of the road in 0.4 mile.
Season: Year round
Parking Facilities: Manure bin and parking for 10 trailers. No fee for parking.
More Information: The Whipple Creek Park trails are covered in the “Day Rides Around Vancouver” chapter of Riding Southwest Washington Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, Ponderosa Press, 2016).
Reprinted with permission from Northwest Rider Magazine, February 2016.