School busses line the streets and the brisk air has begun to blow through turning the seasons from summer to fall. One of the highlights of fall is the stunning foliage found across Thurston County. I’ve mapped out the best spots to take in the changing colors without having to leave our backyard.

Hometown logoWatershed Park is our first stop on the hunt for beautifully painted leaves. In the summer, this is one of my favorite parks to find shade as it is built with a canopy of overhanging trees. One of the main species found here are maples. These leaves are the biggest and brightest in our area to view. You can stroll along the paths in your boots and stomp in puddles along the way.

fall colors olympia
With a wide variety of tree species, the vibrant signs of fall are found throughout Thurston County.

Another favorite foliage stop is Priest Point Park. The trees found here are statuesque and massive. Their colorful leaves make for a stunning backdrop to the water views. The trail down to the beach is a tunnel of these trees leading to one of the best beaches on the Puget Sound. Take in breathtaking views of downtown Olympia and dip your toes in the icy, cold water before heading back to the trails.

McGrath Woods Park boasts four acres of its namesake to explore. The trails are perfect for finding fall scenery. This is also a family favorite in my house as my nearly 3-year-old daughter believes it has the best swings in town.

Known for their gardens, the Capitol Campus is also home to a variety of trees, many of which turn deep reds, browns, and yellows during the fall. This is a great spot to walk around from one historical building to the next. While you are here, be sure to check out the breathtaking view of Capitol Lake and Puget Sound from high above the city through the fall foliage.

fall colors olympia
The Capitol Campus is a wonderful place to enjoy a brisk walk through the fall foliage.

If you are looking for a great place to walk your dogs, check out Tumwater Falls Park. The trails are open and easy to navigate with children in tow. The bridge overlooking the falls is a great place to take seasonal photos with changing trees decorating the background. It’s the perfect spot for a crisp, fall picnic.

Cochrane Memorial Park located in Yelm, puts the changing colors of fall on display in a cozy setting. The calming sound of trickling water can be heard from many of the park’s water features that are made up entirely of reclaimed water. Walking paths, picnic areas, and a fish pond are all part of the alluring setting for weddings, parties, and family picnics.

The final stop on our fall adventure is not just one place to explore but actually a handful of places just outside your door. Take a drive through the falling leaves on the Thurston Bountiful Byway. This scenic route takes community members through rural parts of our beautiful county that just so happen to be lined with species of trees with vibrant leaves during the fall months. From the basin of the Nisqually River to the depths of Capitol State Forest this is a fantastic route to not only view the changing leaves but also discover more than 20 cultural stops including wineries, historical sites, and nurseries.

fall colors olympia
The view out to the sound from the Capitol Campus is a must see during the fall months.

With a jacket, a pair of boots, and a tank of gas, the options for fall scenery are endless in Thurston County. There’s no need to fly to the east coast for their well-known displays when we boast some of the best fall foliage around.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at submit@thurstontalk.com. For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and the surrounding area, visit our complete event calendar.

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