Getting Kids Out Into Nature

Lucia Falls and Moulton Falls Outing

When I was a kid, we used to “take a drive” and go out exploring with my parents. I always enjoyed these adventures, and now I like to do the same thing with my kids.  We are down near Vancouver this weekend visiting my parents, and today we all went for a drive into rural Clark County to check out a couple of waterfalls.

Lucia Falls was our first stop.

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Lucia Falls Park

This is a county park, and there is ample free parking off of Lucia Falls Road.  A gentle path takes you down to see the waterfalls.

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Lucia Falls

The East Fork of the Lewis River gets funneled into narrow channels that surge and fall through ancient lava rock.

clark county hiking with kids east fork lewis river
Lucia Falls Looking Downriver

There are a couple of overlooks and you can scramble down onto the rocks, but use caution, especially with children, and stay away from the water’s edge.  A fall here could be fatal.  We went out as far as we felt safe, and noticed many types of native wildflowers in the forest and on the rocks.

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Camas Flowers
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Cool Moss
wildflower hiking east fork Lewis River Lucia Falls
Pretty Yellow Flower
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Moldy Mushroom
hiking wildflowers east fork lewis river clark county kids
Wild Ginger Flower
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Fringecup
wildflowers east fork lewis river clark county hiking with kids
Wild Strawberries
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Gabriel and Daddy on the Rocks
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Gabe the Photographer

A path makes a one mile loop along the forest near the river.  We didn’t go that far, saving that trip for another day.

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The Kids and Papa

We continued driving a few more miles up the road to the first parking area for Moulton Falls.  There is a nice little spot with a couple more overlooks and a few picnic tables.

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Moulton Falls Park
east fork lewis river hiking with kids clark county
Moulton Falls

You can climb down on the rocks here, too; again, use caution and discretion and keep a tight hand on youngsters near the water.  It’s really neat to see the river narrow to a tight gorge and rush through the lava, which has been carved over the centuries to make interesting eddies and rapids.  We walked along the side of the road, following the path over a small bridge and along the side of the river, where we took advantage of the bathroom facilities.

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Grandma and Annika walking
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Bridge Over River, Moulton Falls Park

(There are no bathrooms at either the lower or upper parking areas; rather they are down near the river for use by swimmers and folks enjoying the river.)  We were surprised to see bats roosting inside the bathrooms – they were so cute up there on the beams.  Seems like kind of a noisy place to roost.

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Bat in the Bathroom

We got our gear ready to hike the trail that goes along the south side of the river to another trailhead back down to the west.  Papa would drive down and meet us there at the end.

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East Fork Lewis River near Moulton Falls

But when we crossed over the beautiful arch bridge high above the river, we saw a sign blocking the trail, saying it was closed for repairs.  Not knowing what kind of issues had closed the trail, we didn’t want to chance it and take the kids on the hike, and rushed back down to the parking lot to tell Papa we couldn’t go.  Alas!  He was already gone.  We couldn’t reach him on his cell phone.  So we made the decision that Daddy would walk back down the road to the other trailhead while the kids and Grandma and I stayed in the parking lot.  We spent an hour there waiting for our hero, Daddy, to come back with Papa.  We observed the birds and plants, and we even saw a bald eagle fly up the river.

poisonous plants wildflowers washington east fork lewis river moulton falls park
Baneberry - Highly Poisonous
native plants moulton falls park east fork lewis river
Insect Galls on Saskatoon

But it was an anticlimactic end to the outing.  When Papa got back, he said there was no sign on the other end, and folks were coming through from our direction, so whatever had “closed” the trail couldn’t have been too serious.  What a bummer.

Sometimes you have trips that just don’t work out for whatever reason.  We figured it just wasn’t meant to be today.  We definitely want to go back another time and try the trail; it is such a beautiful area.  It feels very rustic and like deep, wild forest, even though it’s only a few miles away from urban areas.  We enjoyed exploring and spending time with my folks.

A few notes on these locations:  Swimming  and fishing are not allowed at Lucia  Falls.

lucia falls east fork lewis river
No Swimming

They have protected that area for spawning salmon to not be disturbed.  You may not swim or fish from the lower parking area of Moulton Falls, either, but swimming is allowed up the road near the restroom area.  Use caution, as the rapids could sweep people down and over the falls, but in the summer months the water is lower and there are some safer places for youngsters to wade.  If the first parking area is full for Moulton Falls, you can continue on up the road, taking a right at the first junction, to an overflow parking area just up the hill, and walk a short, easy trail to the river.  It’s a popular place for the locals.

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