Olympia has a rich running culture, as displayed by the constant stream of runners along the paths, streets and trails around the South Sound. Prep for your first half-marathon by joining a local running club, or sign up for a shorter 5K or 10K race.
The Thurston County running community also encourages kids of all ages to get outside and enjoy being active.
Here are six running routes, suitable for the whole family, that have great views, weave through awesome forests, and travel along well-maintained trails.
1. Tolmie State Park
Tolmie State Park is a fantastic place to introduce your family to trail running. Consisting of three miles of trails, Tolmie delivers Puget Sound views and trails through fantastic forests before letting you run on the rocks and sand of this pristine cove. With minimal elevation gain and an easy to follow path, Tolmie is a hidden gem for trail runners, even inspiring. Whether you run one or five laps around the trails in Tolmie, you will be impressed with the positive feelings and enjoyable nature you encounter along your run. As an added bonus, there is a bathroom, picnic table and beach to enjoy and let the kids work off any remaining energy. Enjoy a view of Mount Rainier after the run, as great blue herons stand in the shallow water.
2. Millersylvania State Park
Another amazing, local state park that is perfect for trail running is, south of Tumwater. Millersylvania has 8.6 miles of trails and very little elevation. With views of lakes, forests and towering trees, the trails of Millersylvania are shockingly empty for the majority of the year. The trails are well-maintained and easy to follow, letting the youngest of runners feel safe as they work their way through the tall trees and ferns. Numerous running options await you and your family, letting you spend anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours meandering around the trails. With picnic tables, bathrooms, benches and more, using Millersylvania as a workout destination is the ideal place for families or solo runners looking for something secluded and safe.
3. Capitol Lake
The standard run in Olympia seems to be the loop around, and for good reason. Year round, the path around the lake offers great views of downtown, the capitol and of the migrating birds using the lake as a seasonal rest area. What makes this route perfect for families is the ease of finding parking, as well as the use by locals. Except in the worst of weather, the 1.55 mile loop always has someone running on it during daylight hours. This loop is perfect, as it allows you to take breaks, or push you and your family on longer runs if you all have the energy. The Capitol Lake Loop is the classic Olympia run and is full of history, beauty and views. The views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier also make the run extremely pretty.
4. Woodard Bay
The greater Olympia area has some of the best rails-to-trails in the country, highlighted by the stretch of trail leading to Woodard Bay along the. makes for a nice quick jog from the end of the Chehalis Western Trail, but does require a short jaunt along the road. At Woodard Bay, watch seals and birds, while exploring the historic park. Running along the mostly flat Chehalis Western Trail, this paved route gives you miles of 22 miles of running options. However, the best run is from South Bay Road to Woodard Bay, which is five miles one way. Carry a backpack full of snacks and water and this becomes a fun afternoon adventure. The best news is that the trail is also bike friendly.
5. Woodland Trail
Stretching from Olympia to Lacey, theis a 2.5 mile trail that is 10 feet wide and perfect for runners, bikers and even strollers. With benches, restrooms and picnic shelters, the trail passes by over 12,000 examples of native trees and shrubs. Starting at the corner of Eastside Street and Wheeler Avenue, the trail runs until it meets the Chehalis Western Trail. If you are looking for a stroll in the woods with your youngsters right near downtown, this is the ideal trail to get out and stretch your legs.
6. Capitol Forest
Finally, no trail running adventure around Olympia is complete without a trip out to the Capitol Forest. With 90,000 acres of woods to explore, full of miles of incredible trails, the Capitol Forest is quickly becoming a trail running destination. One of the favorites is the nine mile. Sure, it is a bit long for the younger of your running crew, but the trails works its way along beautiful creeks and through second-growth forests that get prettier each year. If that trail is too long, consider running the 2.75 miles of trails around the mysterious , located near the Sherman Creek Trailhead.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and the surrounding area, visit our complete event calendar.