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Camas Lily Fields: A Hidden Gem Near Portland

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The hidden camas lily fields are at Lacamas Park in a little town called – you guessed it – Camas. The town is just over the border between Washington and Oregon on the Washington side and 14 miles from the Portland airport.

I am calling these wildflower fields hidden because I grew up visiting Lacamas Park and I had no idea about the wild camas lily fields. I spent my pre-teen and angsty teenage years jumping from terrifying heights into the waters of what we locals call “The Potholes” at Lacamas Creek, where the soft rock has eroded creating weird and wonderful swimming holes.

But if you visit Lacamas Park and you walk the opposite way around Round Lake, with the “The Potholes” of my youth at your back, you may just find the hidden camas lily Fields above the lake.

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Let’s dive in!

Finding the Hidden Camas Lily Fields Near Portland

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When I was a kid, we parked in the main parking lot for Lacamas Park, but the best place to park to find the camas lily fields is at the 35th Street lot. So turn on 35th off of Everett Street and find your parking spot.

If you park in the main lot, no worries. Just head toward the bridge with the reddish railings and walk over it. You’ll find Everett Street at the bottom of the bridge, walk a few feet to 35th and turn right.

From the parking lot on Everett and 35th, turn left. Pass by the wooded area on the lake that’s just perfect for launching kayaks and paddleboards, and stick to the sidewalk. You’ll start walking up a paved hill. On your right, a wide trail will start with signage for Lacamas Park. Take the trail.

A poodle at the camas lily fields
“Spinny the Wandering Poodle” jumped right into my arms when the delayed camera went off!

Stick to the wide trail, heading uphill and away from Round Lake. Then you’ll start to see little pathways heading straight up. These are the paths that lead to the hidden Camas Lily fields.

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I took a path with a sign that pointed toward a “nature area,” but did not specifically mention the camas lily fields.

You know you’re on the right path when you start to see the camas lily blooming here and there. And then, suddenly, the hill will plateau into fields full of the beautiful wildflower.

the hidden camas lily fields near Portland
The camas fields

Camas Root and the Corps of Discovery

The Common Camas or Camassia Quamash grows in the wild from California to British Columbia across the Pacific Northwest. It was a very important plant to the Native Americans, including the Kalapuya and the Nez Perce who harvested and traded camas bulbs.

It was the Nez Perce who shared bread made from camas root with the starving explorers of the Lewis and Clark Expedition as they emerged from crossing the Bitterroot Mountains into Weippe Prairie and northern Idaho in September of 1805.

The explorers of the Corps of Discovery called the bread sweet and excellent…but their stomachs were not used to the camas root, and they soon grew quite ill.

Later, in June 1806, Meriwether Lewis would write of the camas:

“the quamash is now in blume and from the colour of its bloom and at a short distance it resembles lakes of fine clear water, so complete is this deseption that on first sight I could have swoarn it was water.”

Meriwether Lewis

Lacamas Park Address & Info

The main parking lot for Lacamas Park is located at 3344 NE Everett St, Camas, WA 98607. But the best parking for the hidden camas lily fields is on 35th just beyond the intersection at Everett Street and 35th.

Here’s more info about Lacamas Park, including the nearby Heritage Trail along Lacamas Lake.

Of course, as mentioned above, you don’t want to miss “The Potholes!” I used to spend weekends playing in the water here. Just walk the opposite direction from the bridge and the Lily Fields, cross over the dam and follow the (very steep) trail down to the creek.

Best Time to Visit the Camas Lily Fields

The camas lilies can bloom anytime from April through June, but mid-April is your best bet if you’re planning a trip.

Distance of the Hike to the Camas Lily Fields

If you hike just to the Camas Lily Fields and back, this is a super easy half-miler. You’ll break a little sweat when you go up the hill to the fields, but it’s mostly just a pleasant walk.

You can continue on, though, and walk all the way around Round Lake to the Potholes for a good 1.4-mile walk. Not very challenging, but very enjoyable. I love those potholes!

Where to Eat Near the Hidden Camas Lily Fields

While I was walking to the camas lily fields with Spinny the Wandering Poodle, I started chatting with a very nice local gentleman who was on a brisk walk around Lacamas Park.

He said he likes to keep fit even at 77 years of age and highly recommended that I stop at Cafe Natalia for a healthy meal after my hike. I didn’t have the time on this trip, but you can bet that I’ll be making a stop when I return to Lacamas Park and the lily fields!

Where to Stay Near the Camas Lily Fields

This map shows you homes available for rent through Vrbo and properties through Booking.com.

If you have a car you can expand your options and stay in Vancouver, Washington (my hometown), or in the Portland suburbs like Beaverton or Gresham. If you don’t have a car, you’ll want to stay near a MAX light trail stop in Portland. I really like the Pearl District in Portland near Powell’s City of Books and many of the breweries like Rogue and Deschutes.

Note: You will need a car or shared ride to reach Lacamas Park.

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About the Author

Hi! I’m Jen!

I’m a freelance writer and travel blogger who quit my nine-to-five after my fiancé, Jeff, died of cancer at the age of 40. When he died, I realized that life is just too short to delay our dreams. Since my dream was to travel and write, I now travel and write full-time. Today I wear hiking boots instead of heels and collect experiences instead of things.

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  1. Hi Jen, I like how you include history of Lewis and Clark with the camas root. Plus, what a nice discovery so close to the area you’ve known so well.

  2. What a lovely find – I completely agree with the other comment about seeing childhood places with adult eyes! I will make time on one of my trips up there to check this out.

  3. John Quinn says:

    This is what I love about spring. It has all these little hidden surprises waiting for us if we get up off our butts.

  4. What a nice place to stumble upon, even after so many years!

  5. What a great hidden gem! Always great to find something like this!

  6. I love hidden flower fields. I’ve never heard of a camas lily, but then again, I don’t know names of many flowers. Love Lewis’ quote – but makes you wonder. How could you confuse it for water ?

  7. Isn’t it great to find a new spot in a place you’ve been going for years? The hidden camas lily fields seem like a nice walk with your pup. I loved your comment about jumping from terrifying heights as an angsty teen – sounds so familiar! It’s amazing how the inner daredevil calms down as you get older.

  8. I love a hidden spot i think its always that more exciting. What a fun trip anything that takes you back to childhood I always find great. This has made me think about the places I would go as a kid and need to visit some of them again.

    1. It’s crazy how much different those childhood places look through your adult eyes! Thanks for reading!

  9. Steven Jepson says:

    I lived just south of here in Clackamas for 3 years. Never went to Camas, but spent lots of time in the Columbia River Gorge – I think one of the most beautiful places in the whole country. Interesting history about the camas root

    1. I agree that the Gorge is just beautiful. And, hey, don’t feel bad about missing this spot. I grew up here and missed it until now! But let me know if you come back!

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