Backyard and Beyond to highlight the outdoors of Southwest Washington

Covering the nature of ‘Our Backyard,’ science, outdoor activities and beyond


A new monthly section is coming to The Reflector titled “Backyard and Beyond.”

The section will showcase the beautiful nature that North Clark County and the surrounding region of Southwest Washington has to offer, as well as earth science in the region, fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities.

From backyard habitat projects to a day on the south side of Mount St. Helens, readers will learn about places to go, things to do, earth science projects and much more.

Places such as the Gifford Pinchot National Forest offer endless opportunities for exploration, geological science and much more. Places such as the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge offer wildlife viewing opportunities. Restoring a portion of grass lawn to a pollinator-friendly native plant garden offers the opportunity to give back to the wildlife and insects.

The opportunities are endless in the outdoors.

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest covers over 1.3 million acres and features everything from  beautiful waterfalls to the geological disaster of the Mount St. Helens eruption, where scientists are able to get a first-hand view of how a forest regenerates and how a volcano grows by watching the formation of the dome in Mount St. Helens’ crater. Adventures on the south side of Mount St. Helens that will be highlighted in this section include the Ape Cave lava tube, which is the third-longest lava tube in North America. Another adventure on the southern portion of Mount St. Helens includes the Lava Canyon Trail. The trail offers views of the beautiful blue water of the Muddy River as it shoots through the narrow canyon.

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest also includes a portion of the 2,650 mile long Pacific Crest Trail that goes from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada.

“The trail is 2,650 miles and it generally takes the entire snow-free season to walk. That’s about five months,” the Pacific Crest Trail Association states on its website.

This new section will cover all the rivers and what they have to offer, from recreation to geological history.

We’ll take a look at the East Fork Lewis River, the North Fork Lewis River, the Kalama River and the Toutle River, just to name a few in the area. Recreation, adventure and education can be found along these waterways.

Sunset Falls Campground on the East Fork in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is a great starting point for a Silver Star Scenic Area adventure.

The three lakes of the North Fork offer some of the area’s best water recreation and fishing opportunities.

The Kalama River has some of the region’s best rockhounding as rockhounders search for carnelian, jasper, quartz and more.

The Toutle River is a place of recent history from the 1980 eruption that changed the way the river will be forever.

If you have a trail, destination, backyard habitat idea or earth science event that you’d like featured in this section, email