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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.
Let’s dive in!
Finding the Hidden Camas Lily Fields Near Portland
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.