Rain or shine finds the health-conscious walking, jogging and biking the 3.5 miles of trails that wind under landscaped bridges past many species of trees and flowers in bloom, through rhododendron gardens and past the lake’s two spectacular fountains. A more leisurely stroll will allow you to learn about the planets or trees by way of the Planetary Walk or the Frank Willis Arboretum, or enjoy the captivating Japanese Gardens, splendid in any season. Kayaking, fishing, canoeing and picnicking bring out families for a day of fun. Children or those young at heart can enjoy two unique playgrounds, while everyone loves relaxing to Concerts at the Lake on summer evenings and taking in the Go-4th event celebrating the Fourth of July holiday. During the week folks use the park to relax during lunch time, bringing a book or just visiting and watching the activity of children feeding birds, squirrels, and chipmunks. There truly is something for everyone at the lake, so add this gem to your list of things to do in Longview, and come down for a visit. You will see why we call Lake Sacajawea the city’s crown jewel…it always sparkles with activity!
Frank Willis Arboretum (Arboretum map with tree listings)
The diversity and number of trees in Lake Sacajawea Park elicited an interest in identifying the different trees and in 1987 the Lower Columbia Council of Camp Fire girls proposed and completed the project of labeling trees around the lake with aluminum tags listing the common names. In 1995 the Superintendent expanded on the concept to include scientific names, common names, country of origin and mapping to locate the trees as an informational and educational tool for the community. With that information, the labeled trees were incorporated into an arboretum setting and named after a former Superintendent of Parks, who was instrumental in elevating the awareness of trees in the mid 1950s and achieved success with a Master Street Tree Plan in 1963. The arboretum, dedicated in 2002, has 119 species of trees represented in a walking tour of approximately 3.5 miles around the periphery of the lake.
Lake Water Sources and Levels
The water source for Lake Sacajawea is from the Cowlitz River. The water is pumped from the River to an open ditch that flows into the north end of the lake. It flows to the south end where the overflow exits into the diking system and ultimately into the Columbia River. Lake levels rise during the rainy season, but are controlled as an integral part of the flood control program for the city. The paths which rivers flow change over time and Lake Sacajawea is a remnant of one of those course changes.
The State Department of Fisheries Wildlife classifies the lake as a “warm waters fishery” with year round fishing. Fish populations include large mouth bass, trout (stocked several times per year), a healthy population of Bluegill, some Yellow perch. An annual Fishing Derby is held for the children of the community. Aquatic weeds became a problem in the 1970s and 1980s and in 1995 sterile grass-eating carp were introduced to eliminate the unwanted weeds. Citizens enjoy monitoring the activities of otter, beaver, osprey, weasels, raccoons, opossum and occasional deer. Water fowl are numerous, some indigenous year round. They include a variety of ducks, Canadian geese, Cormorants in the spring, colorful wood ducks for which volunteers provide nesting boxes and many more. Domesticated geese and ducks are frequently deposited at the lake and their populations are controlled by relocation.
Solar System Walk
The 1.64 mile walk is a scale model of the solar system that was gifted to the community by the Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club in 2001. It lies along the lake pathway that parallels Nichols Blvd. from Fifteenth Avenue to Ocean Beach Highway.
The nine granite markers represent each of the planets with statistical information about the planets and a visual representation of the size of the planet in relationship to the 24 inch sun at the beginning of the walk at Fifteenth Avenue.
The island on which the Japanese Garden was developed was originally landscaped (circa 1924) with a bridge for access. Over the years the bridge deteriorated and was removed. The island reverted to a natural state, covered predominately with Himalayan black berries and ivy. Citizens in the community sporadically expressed their desire to re-claim the island. In 1989, the Superintendent of Parks identified the islands as the sources of ever expanding problems with blackberry and began clearing the islands of the noxious plants in the early 1990s. During the process of clearing, the Japanese Garden was conceptualized, planning begun and development started. In 1999 a landscape designer was hired to graphically illustrate the planned garden to promote the project. In 2000, the Weyerhaeuser Company expressed an interest in the project and ultimately donated the bridge to the community as part of their anniversary celebration and it was installed January 2003 just prior to the opening in May by Governor Gary Locke.
Lake Sacajawea History
Development of Lake Sacajawea and the park began in 1924 and was maintained for a number of years as a park. The great depression of the 1930s created problems and back taxes had accrued. One solution for the back taxes was a proposed development of the lake property into 346 residential lots to sell. Public outcry and opposition ensued. The community wanted to keep the property as a park. The City could not afford to purchase and assume ownership of the privately owned property, but some legal maneuvering and legislation corrected the problem and the Longview Company deeded the lake property to the city in 1938. Shortly thereafter, World War II erupted and the lake fell into disrepair and little was spent on maintenance and upkeep including watering of the landscape. In 1948 and 1949 the lake was chemically treated to kill the indigenous carp and then in 1950 the first stocking of the lake began when 40,000 trout were introduced.
In 1952, after twenty years of not watering the landscaping, the Council funded new farm irrigation equipment and water was once again being used. Stagnation, algal growth, water clarity, low oxygen content became a problem and in 1953 and 1954 pumping water from the Cowlitz River began.
Fishing at Lake Sacajawea
What kinds of fish are in the lake?
There are many varieties of fish that can be fished for in the lake. Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Largemouth Bass, Perch, Bluegill, Carp, Warmouth, Catfish & Sunfish.
What are the rules?
Fishing regulations for the lake are set by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife so it is important to check their fishing regulations book for correct information, size limits and catch limits. Anyone 15 and older must have a valid fishing license with them while fishing at the lake. Ages 14 and under do not have to have a license. The Fish and Wildlife Department does enforce these rules at the lake so be sure you are familiar with the regulations. Calling local sporting goods stores who sell fishing gear is also a good place to get needed information.
Where do the fish come from?
The lake gets stocked with trout 4-5 times per year. These fish come from various hatcheries from around the state. Most trout that are planted in the lake are from 6 inches to 14 inches in length. Brude Stock trout (the really big ones!) are also planted a few times a year as well. These fish can weigh up to ten pounds! All other fish except trout, reproduce naturally in the lake. Some bass have been caught that have weighed up to five pounds! Some carp can weigh up to 20 pounds! Remember to check the Fish and Wildlife regulations book for size and catch limits if you are unsure. Click here for WDFW stocking reports.
What bait should I use?
Various baits can be used to catch the fish in the lake. Worms, corn, power bait, biscuit dough, marshmallows and small spinning lures are all good baits. Fishing with a bobber or on the bottom are both productive ways to catch them. It’s always good to bring a few different baits with you while fishing just in case the bait you are using is not catching that trophy!