Today’s Agenda: Hike at the Lacamas Park Trail, then early dinner at Mill City Brew Werks
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, you encounter a four foot sturgeon while hiking the Lacamas Park Trail. While I was initially enthralled at spying a few scaley and homely carp floating near our feet as we paused at a wooden foot bridge during our seven mile hike, the real carpe diem or fish of the day, was the sudden appearance of this gigantic creature that looked like the cross between a crocodile and a fish. While I have encountered sturgeon on many fine dining menus over the years, I have never had the privilege to see one in its natural environment. It will go down as one of my most memorable hiking moments.
Sturgeons are fascinating creatures. I have subsequently learned sturgeons are considered living fossils since they have remained relatively morphologically unchanged from over 200 million years ago. Rather than scales, sturgeon have five lateral rows of boney plates, giving them a crocodile-like appearance. Their rear fin is like that of a shark, lending further to their eerie appearance. These guys have a lifespan of 50-60 years and typically reach 7-12 feet in length. I also discovered that many sturgeon completely leap out of water with splashes that can be heard a mile away and have been known to cause injuries to people in boats. The mere thought of this brute of a fish leaping out in front of us makes me understand why people believe in the loch ness monster.
After I recovered from my Crocodile Dundee moment, I was able to take in all of the other panoramic characteristics of this terrific hiking trail including the wide and flat gravel path, towering oaks, evergreens and wild flowers. Since I originate from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” I have always favored hikes that include waterways. The Lacamas Park Trail will take you along a lake, slough, and ponds, where wild life abounds. Seemingly, just for the sake of my husband, the trail eventually meets up with a golf course. What more could a man ask for? In Mark’s case, a tall cool brew.
So off we went to downtown Camas. This is a charming little village has been understandably compared to “Mayberry” with tree lined streets, old brick buildings containing restaurants, bars, boutiques, and the coolest old cinema I have seen in a long time. The only thing lacking was Goober’s Gas Station and Floyd’s Barber Shop. But while Mayberry did not have a known brew pub, Camas has Mill City Brew Werks. This a solid and satisfying brew pub in the heart of picturesque downtown Camas. Appointed with layers of stone, wood and steel, Mill City Brew Werks provides its patrons with a friendly pub experience. The food here is standard pub cuisine, although it did surprise me with its offering of fried green tomatoes—which were great. I also admit to indulging in a large chubby Bavarian pretzel.
Camas has intrigued me enough to want to come back and take in a movie at the classic Liberty Theater followed by a dinner at one of the appealing restaurants/cafes, or maybe a night at the lovely 105 year old Camas Hotel.
Some pictures from the hike
Lacamas Heritage Trail
As a geezer I want a hike that is close to the city. I can drive 60 miles a day as part of work and spending hours in the car on the weekend does not thrill me. I would not pass up a hike that is mostly flat. I can hike up and down hills but I have limited range at 59 and I would rather use the energy on a long flat hike than a short, hilly hike. And I like a hike near water. And best is a hike that is a round trip, not an out and back.
The Lacamas Heritage Trail almost hits all the high points. 35 minutes from Portland, it is a graveled, flat trail that follows the bank of Lacamas Lake. It’s only flaw is it is an out and back for 7 miles. The trail is on the southish side of the lake, so even on a hot sunny day we were mostly in shade and cool.
There is a lot of natural variety and the well maintained path allows you to take your eyes off where you put your feet and scan to look at the birds and plants. Standing on one of the bridges we saw a 4-5 foot sturgeon swim by, looking more like an alligator than a source for caviar.
Lots of parking at the Camas trailhead and clean restrooms and water at the halfway point. Perfect for old knees and old geezers.
Old Camas, just east of the of the Georgia-Pacific paper mill was quite a surprise. For 4 blocks it has the vibe of a small European village with shops, restaurants, three tap rooms, a 1920’s vintage movie theater and hotel.
We had dinner at the Mill City Brew Werks (According to the Urban Dictionary werk means “To do something to an exceedingly excellent capacity. Most notably used in reference to dancing, modeling, sexual prowess and/or other physical performance that requires a large amount of fiery attitude, vitality and vigor.”), one of the few places open at 4 on a Sunday afternoon. I had the Philly Cheese Steak, delicious but odd as it appeared to be made with pot roast and Kerry and I fought over the Brownie dessert. She won.
The beers were very good, they werked, including a Kolsch that is the style upon which every big American lager must be based as well as an IPA named after my wife: Dominant Blond.
We need to go back. It would be a great place to catch a movie, have a drink at the cocktail bar, dinner and then spend the night in the old hotel. Years ago my father suggested it is fun to spend a weekend in downtown Portland and treat the experience like a visitor/tourist instead of someone who lives here. We have done that a few times over the years and it is a nice escape. We will do the same in Camas one of these days.
More Pictures from the hike