I am an indiscriminate lover of walking and hiking trails. Long, short, paved, dirt, easy, difficult, I love them all. That said, there is something special about a nearby Thurston County loop trail.
I’m sharing with you my favorite short loop trails about town, all of which can be completed in about an hour. Lunch time walk or sunset stroll anyone?
1. Blake Lake Meadows
A lovely, quick, close to town loop, the Black Lake Meadows loop is approximately one mile. Located in West Olympia, the easy, quiet trail is a favorite among local dog owners. While not technically a city park, this wetland is administered by the City of Olympia as stormwater retention and treatment wetland. The area is managed for fish and wildlife habitat, so please observe all rules and keep dogs on leash. The flat, wide, graded, gravel loop follows Black Lake Ditch, a tributary of Percival Creek, on one side and loops around the wetland, with benches for relaxing and watching the creek flow by.
Bonus: This wetland area boasts an abundance of bird life and a variety of nesting boxes, it’s a great place for a quick nature walk and some bird watching.
2. McLane Creek Nature Trail
No article about Olympia loop trails would be complete without including the delightful McLane Creek Nature Trail. About a 15-minute drive from downtown Olympia, this nature trail off of Delphi is one of the best loops around. The 1¼-mile main loop is a great hike for the whole family. Look for newts, salmon, otters, and a variety of bird life on this fairly flat, east trail. This trail requires a Discover Pass for trailhead parking.
Bonus: Check out the demonstration forest loop, which leaves from the upper parking lot, you’ll likely find solitude on the ¾-mile trail.
3. Watershed Park
Watershed Park is a 1.5-mile loop trail in Olympia that traverses old growth forest and boasts footbridges over springs and wetlands. Once the water source of all of Olympia, this park features a large network of springs and streams. This city park has an entrance on Henderson Boulevard near I-5 with ample parking and pedestrian entrances on Eastside Street and 22nd Avenue. All of the junctions are well signed on this slightly hilly dirt path.
Bonus: Connect to the Woodland Trail and add 5 additional miles to your day.
4. Capitol Lake
Capitol Lake is perhaps the most well-known loop in Thurston County, a quintessential Olympia walk. This 1.5-mile loop offers great views of the Capitol Legislative Building above, often reflecting in the calm waters of Capitol Lake. Perhaps you’ll even see an otter swim by or salmon spawning on urban nature walk, which also boasts plenty of bird life and great views of the Olympic Mountains in the distance.
Bonus: In the spring look for the daffodils growing on the pilings near the footbridge on the east side of the lake.
5. Burfoot Park
Burfoot Park is a true gem near Boston Harbor. This relatively small park boasts 1,500 feet of Budd Inlet shoreline, a short wooded trail that can be hiked as a loop. Relax at one of three covered picnic areas for lunch. To make the loop, continue past the southernmost picnic shelter and follow the trail right, down to the beach, on your return trip continue counterclockwise to complete the short loop.
Bonus: Locals report whale, dolphin, otter and seal sightings from the beach. It might not hurt to pack a pair of binoculars.
6. Tumwater Falls Park
Tumwater Falls Park is owned and operated but the Olympia Tumwater Foundation and packs in a lot of action. The Tumwater falls cascade year-round, with the most impressive flows in the spring and the opportunity to view spawning salmon in the fall. The half mile loop begins and ends in the parking lot, and is fairly wide and relatively flat throughout.
Bonus: See the old Olympia Brewery building from the lower falls and enjoy the rhododendrons in the spring.
Whichever loop you choose, you’ll be reminded of what a lush, diverse environment we are blessed to live in here in Thurston County. There’s a loop trail for every season and every mood. Enjoy your time on my favorite little loops!