Recently a reader asked us about area trails accessible to folks who use walkers, canes, or walking sticks to help them stay active and hit the trails. We were glad to rack our brains and compile a (likely incomplete) list of walker and cane suitable trails.
These trails are generally wide, flat, even, well-graded trails near Olympia. These trails are also great for parents with strollers or small children. There are plenty of trails around town for everyone – young, old, an in between!
1. Nisqually Wildlife Refuge
The Billy Frank, Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge features five miles of trails, most of which are suitable for walkers, canes, and walking sticks, and one mile of trail which is wheel chair accessible. Right off of Interstate 5 in north Thurston County, the wildlife refuge is well-visited. There is excellent wildlife viewing, scenery, and local history along the flat, wide trails.
Potential hazards: the boardwalk can get quite slippery and windy in the winter. Don’t forget to pack a jacket.
Pro-tip: There is a $3 entrance fee per vehicle, but admission is included with any of the federal lands passes.
2. Blake Lake Meadows
The Black Lake Meadows trail in West Olympia is a wide, flat, gravel loop of approximately one mile. This wetland area is administered by the City of Olympia as a stormwater retention and treatment wetland and managed for fish and wildlife habitat, making it a great place for bird watching and a nice, short, nature walk close to town. The trail is well-graded and wide, and suitable for walking with a cane or walking stick.
Potential hazards: The north side of the loop occasionally floods during high water and there is a gate that must be navigated around on a relatively narrow trail at the beginning of the trail.
Pro-tip: There are two benches on the creek side of the trail for a leisurely break.
3. Capitol Lake
This 1.5-mile loop around Capitol Lake passes through several parks and green spaces, with Heritage Park to the east and Deschutes Parkway to the west. The majority of the trail is packed decomposed granite, while the Deschutes section is a wide paved sidewalk next to the road. This is a great year-round trail as it doesn’t get muddy and only collects occasional, avoidable puddles. Very flat and well graded, this well-loved Olympia trail is a wonderful walk that’s accessible to most.
Potential hazards: The sidewalk is quite narrow for a short section near the dam on the north end of the lake.
Pro-tip: Several free parking areas are available for this walk, including parking at Heritage Park, Marathon Park, and along Deschutes Parkway. This trail remains paved along Deschutes Parkway and can be followed all the way to Heritage Park.
4. Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve
Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve is a state-owned natural area off of Waddell Creek Road. The preserve was established in 1976 to protect the mysterious (no one is quite sure how they were formed) Mima Mounds and threatened Puget prairies grasslands. Mima Mounds is a fascinating landscape that supports a variety of native plant and animal life. The 2.75-miles of trails includes a half-mile of wheelchair accessible paved trail. The unpaved section of trail is fairly flat and even, but does undulate over some of the mounds.
Potential hazards: The trail can be narrow and uneven is spots.
Pro-tip: In the spring the mounds bloom with native wildflowers, including fields of camas. Discover Pass required.
5. Millersylvania State Park
The flat, wide, fairly even trails of Millersylvania State Park are ideal for walking sticks, canes, and many are wide enough to accommodate a walker. There are over eight miles of walking trails at Millersylvania State Park, including old growth forest, wetland boardwalks, and plenty of lovely picnic areas.
Potential hazards: Some of the smaller side and connecter trails are narrow, rocky, and hazardous, stick to the main trails. In the winter some sections of trail do flood, especially those nearest the lake and wetlands.
Pro-tip: The less-known, much less-crowded northern parking lot is a great place to start, with quick access to the wide, flat, well-graded, drier trails in the northeast section of the park. Discover Pass required.