Nestled in the forested foothills of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, Battle Ground Lake State Park is an easy escape from the local urban jungles. Located just 20 miles northeast of Vancouver, WA, and 30 miles northeast of Portland, OR, this small recreation area sits in quiet, evergreen woods, in the city named for an 1855 incident between the local Klickitat peoples and U.S. Army soldiers from nearby Fort Vancouver. The lake itself, in the center of the park, is actually in a volcanic crater, formed when a magma-induced steam explosion blasted a large hole in the ground, which subsequently filled with water. Visitors to Battle Ground Lake will find plenty of camping and outdoor opportunities in the park, with even more to discover in the surrounding area.
There are numerous ways to stay and play at Battle Ground Lake. The main campground offers 35 sites with picnic tables and fire pits; a few have partial hookups for RVs. There are showers and picnic facilities nearby. The park also has 15 hike-in campsites offering more rustic camping opportunities. For groups, there is a large area with four Adirondack shelters and a covered cooking area, and for equestrian campers, there’s a group area that provides corrals, picnic tables and a vault toilet. Inside the main campground, there are also four rustic cabins to rent, each with covered porches, outdoor grills, picnic tables and electric lights and heat; BYO bed linens. Seasonal campsite rates range from $12–$45; cabin rates range from $45–$79
While you may be inclined to just kick back and nap by the lakeshore, there’s plenty to do in the park and the surrounding area, including several miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails and a self-guided nature trail. Cool off with a dip in the lake, go for a paddle, or cast a line for rainbow trout and small-mouth bass. Just 20 miles west of the park, you can visit Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and enjoy some of its exceptional bird watching. Or, drive one hour north for an exciting underground journey into the Ape Caves, a 2.5-mile long lava tube on the southern flank of Mount St. Helens. The lower portion of the tube is easy and family-friendly; the upper portion is a strenuous endeavor for the truly adventurous. Wear sturdy shoes, a jacket, and bring your own flashlight, as this volcanic subway is as wild as it gets.
This park has it all, camping, fishing, hiking swimming, playground, horse trails!
Battle ground lake is a perfect getaway!
Battleground is a nice and well loved state park not far from Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. The part itself centers around a clear caldera lake with tent camping, RV camping, cabins, trails, group sites, and the like. The lake is also frequently stocked, and fishing is popular. Not motorized boats, but plenty of kayaks and rafts. There is a small camp store with snacks and fishing supplies on-site. Campground is well appointment with showers, water, etc.
Hiking around the lake is fun. And well a crowded park, it is easy to sneak away to a quiet spot. Some cabins and campsites have nice views overlooking the lake. The town of battleground is nearby with restaurants, grocery stores, and any you might have forgotten.
This campground has lots of tent sites, and some cabins. There’s a swim area roped off, and a small sand area for the kids to play. Bathrooms are throughout the campground. Also has day use areas. There are two hikes around the lake; an upper, and a lower one. Both are easy hikes, and are dog and kid friendly. There’s a seasonal store with a window you can order bait, snacks, etc. There is a ramp to take your small boats to, and fishing around the lake.
Pros: Good lake to swim in, smaller state park so not too busy, kayaks you can rent, small playground if you have kids, pet frIendly cabIn I stayed In was faIrly secluded Cons: because it’s smaller, kids on bikes were on the road often so you have to be aware, only one shower stall in the restrooms
We love it! For a lot of reasons. Part of the reason is it’s close, so that’s part good. Driving up there the way we drive (from Vancouver) you go up through ranching/farming territory and it’s nice and green and pretty, so it’s nice getting there. You do have a lot of options, in that the first time we went up there was with our hiking club, and we went up there for a hike around the calderas so it’s easy to do a day trip in a car. Part of our discovery was while we were there is that the food place is really good and very nice. The kids playground was great for the grandkids.
As far as the camping, while it’s open, for the most part you do have a limited amount of privacy in the campground. The campsite we picked was a mix of things: just far enough away from the restrooms where we don’t get all the traffic there, but close enough so it’s not too far either. We were within easy walking distance to two restrooms/showers.
One thing that always looked intriguing is they do have the cabins, so maybe one of these times we’ll rent one. Another thing that some people might like is that they do have horses and some of the trails around the lake you can have horses on, plus a separate area/campground where you can have your horses, which are fun to see.
It’s a small lake but big lake, meaning they do not allow motors on the lake, even electric motors, so it’s all floats, kayakers, etc. A lot of people grab the big inter-tubes and go with that. And of course fishing up there is generally pretty good, especially when they stock it. The trails around the lake are kind of fun also because you have a high trail (very forested) and you also have a certain amount of low trails right on the water where you could have your own spots to fish and swim.
Like most campgrounds, it has its peak season and its off-season, but you can go there year-round if you choose to. The beach area isn’t big, but that’s okay. Wherever you’re heading (from the campsites down to the water, to the playground, to the food shack) you always have different trails and options for how to get from one place to another if you want to explore. If there’s anything you forgot (groceries, fishing gear etc.) you can be in the small town of Battle Ground within 5 miles.
BGLSP is a really lovely park not too far from Portland with camping and rustin cabins. Most of the campsites are large enough for 2 tents, and there were many RVs and popups - good size driveways/parking areas. Cabins C17 and C21 were the most private, though C13 and C15 had a partial view of the lake. Campsites 19 and 20 were really tucked back and adjoined such that two groups could spread out. There is only one bathroom for the entire camping/cabin area, and it got pretty dirty/crowded at times, so that wasn't ideal. I would also recommend checking out the water quality information before going if you plan to do water sports or swimming. There was a high bacteria advisory when we went, so swimming was discouraged. We ended up going to nearby Klineline Pond to swim instead. There is a nice little concession stand, though, and they offer SUP and kayak rentals that looked nice.
Campground Review: Poopy Water and Good Times at the Walk-in Sites
We've stayed several times at Battle Ground State Park before in their regular camp sites, but this is the first time we've ever tried out the walk-ins, which were all-in-all pretty fun. Just $12/night including parking, we showed up at about 3 pm on a Sunday in the middle of the summer to find four open camp sites. Once we selected our spot, we paid in the main office and started making multiple trips back and forth to our site (we way over packed). Camp sites varied greatly. Some were level, some had slight views of the lake, while others were tiny and back in the woods with crazy slopes. Definitely worth it to check out the sites in person if possible. Our site (#44) was definitely one of the good ones. The furthest site back from the parking lot is .4 miles, and we were about 4 1/2 minutes from the parking lot, so honestly not too bad if you're taking 2-4 trips.
When we arrived we were notified that the lake wasn't closed, but was under a beach warning for elevated levels of bacteria (poopy water). We decided to go swimming anyway along with 100 or so other people. I've heard this happens often in August , so if you don't want to swim in fecal matter, definitely call first since there were no warnings listed on the website.
Tiny beach, nice swimming area, beautiful water and tree-filled camp sites
Cons (besides the poopy water):
We had some loud, annoying neighbors several sites over and there didn't seem to be anyone at night keeping people quiet, but they eventually went to sleep.
Gear Review: Gregory Maven 35
As part of the dyrt ranger program, I was super excited to pick out a Gregory backpack to review, so when my new Gregory Maven 35 showed up on a Thursday, we decided to take it for a spin that weekend. We're normally car campers with way too much stuff, but with the Maven 35 I wanted to test its capacity and comfort on the walk-in sites at Battle Ground State Park. While the site was just 4/10 of a mile or so from the parking lot, we had to make so many trips back and forth that we covered 7 miles total in 24 hours with the pack stuffed full of all kinds of random food, clothes, and camping gear.
I chose the Maven 35 because it's small enough to do double duty as an airplane carry-on, but large enough for a 1-3 day hiking/camping trip. But when the bag first arrived I was worried that it wouldn't hold very much. There's one main compartment with access from top and bottom, plus two zip pockets on top and a stuff sack on the outside (plus spaces for water bottles, sun glasses, hip pockets, etc.), but in general at first glace it looked too small to hold enough for a multi-day trip. Some of the adjustable features threw me for a loop as well. For example, you can move the pack up and down for back size, but the adjustment seemed way too easy (with velcro) and I was dubious it would really fit correctly.
Seven Miles Later:
Man I love this pack! All my worries quickly went away as soon as I started actually using it. We hauled absolutely everything strapped on all kinds of crazy ways and shoved in every possible space, and the Gregory Maven held up. Most trips I averaged 30 or so pounds of gear and it felt like nothing. I slept well that night and did it all again the next day with no worries or complaints. It holds way more than I ever thought it would (see the video with this review) and the various straps add even more to the capacity.
Room for Improvement:
Overall this is an amazing backpack. I plan to take it out several more times in the next month and will write up further impressions, but so far, it has exceeded all my expectations. There's a few things I'm still getting used to. For example, the pinch/pull straps where you tighten the top of the bag are so far super-easy to close but I struggle with easily opening them. I also am not so sure about the separate rain cover that comes with the bag. It seems like it takes up a lot of room, but I'm also excited to test it out and see how it works. These are fairly tiny questions though that are mostly about getting used to the pack. So far, it's pretty perfect.
Battle Ground Lake State Park Campground has a wonderful choice of campsites. I hiked in with a group of 4 and we looked at all the different campsites. Some campsites had a beautiful view, some had smooth ground, some had nice hikes around it, and some had more! We chose one with a beautiful view, smooth ground, nice hikes, and a perfect place for a hammock! There was also a very nice beach right next to it that you could swim and fish in.
When we got there, we were told that the water can be quite dirty. But we saw everyone still swimming! So we did a little swimming to see what it was like and the water was fine! So if they tell you that, just swim anyway. Also, the bathrooms were disgusting. They do have showers that were fine, but some of the toilets were gross.
All in all, Battle Ground Lake State Park Campground was a pretty nice place!
Review by Fraser Barnes (Age 10)
This little camp ground was great for a two night stay. Lots of hiking near by.