nearby outdoor activities

Yale Reservoir

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The closest access to Yale Reservoir (boat ramp and day use area) is less than one mile from the campground.  The main attraction at this reservoir is Kokanee. Although there are four boat ramps on the reservoir, the water level fluctuates making access by boat difficult at times. 

This reservoir is located on the North Fork Lewis River.  Shallow fishing for kokanee is best in the spring and fall; in the summer months deep fishing is the best method. Coastal Cutthroat Trout can be caught near the mouth of Siouxon Creek.

There are some Bull Trout in the reservoir. All Bull Trout and Dolly Varden must be released. Fees are required to launch on weekends. All ramps may be out of the water when the lake level is lowered. Call (800) 547-1501 for updated reservoir levels.

Swift Reservoir

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Swift Reservoir is located approximately 12 miles northeast of Cougar, on the south side of Forest Road 90. During April and May fish tend to congregate near the dam and around streams entering the reservoir. By June, trout should be dispersed throughout the reservoir. Landlocked salmon rules apply with a 15" maximum size on salmon caught.

Selective gear rules are in effect in the upper portion of the reservoir; check the regulation pamphlet for boundaries. A public boat launch at Swift Forest Camp, managed by PacifiCorp, has two concrete ramps. There is a fee to launch on weekends.

Merwin Lake

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The reservoir fluctuates depending on the amount of run-off making boat access difficult at times. 

Kokanee are the main target, however, Tiger Muskie planted in 1995 are also popular with anglers.   

Angling is best in early spring, with Kokanee averaging 12"inches. 

All Bull Trout and Dolly Varden must be released.

PacifiCorp operates boat launches at Speelyai Bay (14 miles away) and Cresap Bay (19 miles away).  There is a fee to launch on weekends.Call (800) 547-1501 for updated reservoir levels. 

There is very limited shore access

Merrill Lake

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This fly-fishing, catch-and-release-only lake is located north of Cougar (5 miles) near Mount St. Helens. It is open to fishing year-round, but action is usually slow and often inaccessible during the winter months due to snow. The lake was formed when lava flows from Mt. St. Helens blocked the stream valley. Merrill contains Coastal Cutthroat, Brown Trout to several pounds and some Rainbow Trout and Eastern Brook Trout. 

This lake is stocked annually with rainbow, browns, and brooks. 

Ape Caves

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The third longest lava tube in North America, known as the Ape Caves, formed more than 2,000 years ago, but it wasn’t discovered until 1947 by a logger named Lawrence Johnson. There are two entrances: Lower Cave Section (shorter and easier route) and the Upper Cave (longer and more difficult route).  For more information:  http://www.mshslc.org/ape-cave/

Lewis River Falls

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The Lower Lewis River Falls are spectacular. At 43 feet high and 200 feet across, they are larger in person than photos may lead you to believe. On the left side is a churning trough which gathers most of the water flow, and there are several viewpoints to capture the scene from. 


Another mile and a half upstream lie the Middle Lewis River Falls, a river-width combination of a waterfall and a cascade sheeting along bedrock. The viewpoints are limited here, but even the riverbed is pretty, the clarity of the water revealing its ragged volcanic nature. A short side trail up to Lower Copper Creek Falls brings hikers to a small trickle of water that drops 32 feet in a classic formation.

Continuing upstream, the forest becomes sprinkled with a smaller mix of trees. You will shortly arrive at the very impressive Upper Lewis River Falls. Again, photographs do not do this area justice. The falls are 58 feet high and 175 feet across. Have lunch at the river's edge below the falls and enjoy the view, as well as the cool breeze drifting off of the moving water..