Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.
Welcome to the Pacific Northwest and the breathtaking lakes near Vancouver, WA. From the tranquility of Swift Reservoir to the family-friendly Klineline Pond and the adventurous trails around Lancaster Lake, we’ve curated a list of 10 lakes you’re going to fall in love with!
Vancouver Lake, lying to the west of Vancouver, Washington, is a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Documented in Lewis and Clark’s journals, it accommodates a range of activities from rowing to dragon boating. Visit the northern Turtle Island or marvel at local wildlife like raccoons, deer, and the rare sight of coyotes.
Just a 30-minute drive north from Vancouver, Washington, Horseshoe Lake, nestled below Mount Adams’ northwest flank, opens up a world of outdoor adventures. From quiet boating and fishing to camping in an eleven-site campground managed by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, each activity promises breathtaking views. The Green Mountain Trail, which partly circles the Horseshoe Lake, offers an unmissable hiking or biking adventure leading to grand views of Mount Adams and the expansive Adams Glacier.
Witness the panoramic grandeur of Mt St. Helens from Yale Lake, a vast 3,612-acre reservoir found between Lake Merwin and Swift Reservoir on the Lewis River. The lake is the most accessible of the three, offering four parks that cater to swimming, kayaking, and boating enthusiasts. For anglers, Yale Lake may have fewer rainbow trout, but it is a known spot for kokanee, northern pikeminnow, and on lucky summer days, largemouth bass.
Experience the clear waters and renowned camping of Lake Merwin, located an hour’s drive from Vancouver and crafted by the completion of the Merwin Dam in 1931. Popular for camping and fishing, the lake features the Lake Merwin Campers Hideaway, a 588-acre camping club offering heated pools, a sauna, and an array of outdoor facilities. While water fluctuation may challenge boat access, the reservoir’s year-round swimming availability and its abundant kokanee salmon and tiger muskie species make for an enticing visit.
Swift Reservoir, the largest and highest of the three lakes on Lewis River, provides a serene, remote playground for those seeking an escape from the urban bustle. Seasonal water level changes don’t deter swimming, paddling, and fast boating, though they might challenge larger boat launches. Its dispersed camping sites and bountiful fish species, such as rainbow trout, steelhead, Skamania, coho salmon, and kokanee, make it a true haven for outdoor lovers.
A short 17-mile trip from Vancouver leads you to Lacamas Lake, a popular fishing and water skiing destination for locals. Found in Clark County, Washington, the lake is skirted by a 3.5-mile trail popular among hikers and cyclists. The trail’s east end, near the southeast boat ramp, offers a large parking lot, restrooms, a playground, and a park, while the west end also provides parking with added facilities. With warm water temperatures, the lake is a favored summer swimming spot.
Battle Ground Lake
Battle Ground Lake, situated 20 miles from Vancouver, is a unique destination within a 400-foot volcanic crater from the Boring Lava Field. The park provides recreational activities from swimming and boating to camping and cabin rentals, with a network of hiking and bridle trails. Anglers will particularly enjoy the stocked rainbow trout, coastal cutthroat trout, and the presence of largemouth bass and crappie, making trout fishing especially attractive.
A mere 13-minute drive from Vancouver, the 12-acre Klineline Pond offers easy access to a family-friendly environment with a beach, paved trails, and picnic tables. Hidden in Salmon Creek Regional Park, its tranquil winter appeal transforms into a summer hotspot with kids enjoying the splash pad and the Salmon Creek Trail. The highlight is the annual Kids Fishing Derby, stocked with 14,000 rainbow trout and every kid equipped with a rod.
Situated at the foothills of Mt St. Helens, Merrill Lake, a 283-acre waterhole formed by a lava blockade, offers a serene escape. Part of a conservation area, it provides opportunities for seasonal camping, wildlife spotting, and water activities like swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Strictly a fly-fishing and catch-and-release zone with bait prohibitions, it homes rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and lake trout. Nearby, the Kalama Falls Trails await with scenic cascades, particularly stunning in spring.
If you take a 20-minute drive north from Vancouver you’ll stumble across Lancaster Lake, a splendid family-friendly locale. From enjoying boating at Brown’s Landing to embarking on a fishing adventure with Fishing With Larry, the lake ensures there’s never a dull moment. For the more adventurous, challenging hikes are available along the Georges Peak Trail!