The Pacific Northwest has beauty in every corner, allowing us the lucky opportunity to always find gorgeousness in nature, both near and far. Now that spring is here, the flowers are starting to bloom in the lowlands and the feeling of spring is sweeping the region.
While the best wildflower displays in the mountains won’t be ready until July, there are a handful of local destinations that will hold you over until then. From the Columbia River to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and local parks near Olympia, we have a chance to see flowers, stunning views and spring scenes unlike anywhere else in the world.
The wildflowers might not be as intense as the high-alpine displays later in the year, but they are beautiful, inspiring and worth taking a trip this weekend to explore one or all of these gorgeous destinations.
1. Mima Mounds
Often overlooked, this fun and mysterious region, just south of Olympia, lets you wander through a geographical wonder while taking in meadows of local wildflowers. Typically blooming around the end of April and early weeks of May, harebell, lupine and daisy are commonly seen. along the nearly three miles of trails, you might be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of numerous species of butterflies, including the endangered Fender’s Blue Butterfly. Mima Mounds is open year round, and a Washington State Discover Pass is required to park in the parking lot. More information can be found on the DNR Mima Mounds website.
2. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Each spring, as the greenery transforms the trees and brush around the Billy Frank, Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, wildflowers pop up all around the dike area past the barns. Typically best seen in May, the wildflowers can start as early as April, giving an extra draw to an already great region to explore. Under the eagles and hawks above, hummingbirds and sparrows dart between the brush, while butterflies flap lazily from flower to flower. The display here isn’t the most amazing thing you will see, but the location and the other area of the refuge make for a stunning spring day.
3. Priest Point Park
If woodland wildflowers are more your speed, Priest Point Park’s back trails give fun wildflower experiences in the woods just north of downtown Olympia. Along the browns and dense greens of the forest, the bright white pedals of trillium stand out in start contrast. If those flowers aren’t enough, near the main entrance there is a stunning flower garden that will surely leave you happy. With blooming roses all around, this local Olympia park will smell good, look good and rekindle your spring happiness. For more information on the wildflowers, roses and trails of Priest Point Park, visit the City of Olympia Park’s website.
4. Chehalis-Western Trail
Often viewed as an easy biking or running path, the Chehalis-Western Trail also has some great destinations for wildflower viewing along its 22-mile route. Your best selection of wildflowers, as well as the birds and butterflies that come out in the spring will be from East Olympia down toward Offutt Lake. Here, numerous variations of flowers pop up along the grasslands and prairies of the region. Honestly, there are numerous sections of the trail that have wildflowers, but most people have had the best luck in this region. the best part of the Chehalis-Western Trail is that it is flat, kid-friendly and dog-friendly, making in the perfect destination for a sunny spring day.
5. Extra Trails Out of Town
A bit farther from the South Puget Sound, two trails are currently extremely beautiful. The first is a few hours up past Hood Canal near Sequim, the driest city on the Olympic Peninsula. Just south of the city, along near the Buckhorn Wilderness, the Tubal Cain Mine Trail erupts in gorgeousness each spring as our state flower blooms. The rhododendrons along this mostly flat trail are typically most- breathtaking and impressive in the month of May. This destination is a bit of a drive, but well worth the trip north from Olympia. At eight miles round trip, this trail also takes you to an old mine and a chance to see the wreckage of a plane in Tull Canyon. For current bloom conditions, check with The Outdoor Society or WTA.
Down south, along the Columbia River, the months of April and May turn the Dog Mountain hike into one of the most stunning wildflower trails in the state. While most of us will flock to the stunning waterfalls along the Columbia River, this hike is hands down one of the greatest early wildflower hikes in Washington State. Located two and a half hours south of Olympia, the drive to this trailhead may seem like a long trip however, the six mile round trip trek will leave you in awe at the stunning views of windflowers and the greatest river on the west coast. If you are looking for the best of the best, this is it. More information on the hike and wildflowers can be found on the Friends of the Gorge website.