Springtime has finally arrived in Olympia. As the weather warms and the days stretch longer, the need to get outside grows stronger. There are plenty of ways to do so in the Pacific Northwest. Just outside the city, there are ample options for hikes and trails around rivers and lakes. But what about the days when you can’t get outside the city but still crave the great outdoors? Luckily there are plenty of parks and strolls right here in the city to get your fresh air fix without leaving town. Allow me to take you on a tour of my personal favorites.
1. Capitol Lake
On one of my first visits to Olympia, a friend took me on a stroll around Capitol Lake and I have loved it ever since. Located in the heart of downtown, this park boasts views of the dome as you circle the lake. The path is paved and easily accommodates strollers, pets, and kids of all ages. There is a parking lot on the west side and metered parking on the east side. The trot around the lake is a quick mile and a half making it an efficient way to soak up some sun and get some exercise.
2. Tumwater Falls Park
The sound of water crashing over the upper falls greets you as you enter Tumwater Falls Park. The Deschutes River makes its way through Tumwater in a series of falls leading to Budd Inlet in Olympia, the southern-most tip of the Puget Sound. The park’s walking trail lines the river and offers views of all the falls along the way. The trail is short and sweet, but what it lacks in distance, it makes up for in lush foliage and plenty of photo ops.
3. Trillium Park
On a recent walk through the neighborhood to obtain my daily dose of Olympia Coffee, I stumbled upon Trillium Park. Had it not been for the sign at the end of a quiet street, I would have missed it completely. Wooden stairs lead the way into a small rainforest trail. The tree trunks are ensconced in moss and deer fern line the walkways. This lush oasis packs all the splendor of the Pacific Northwest into a quick walk that can be enjoyed any day of the week.
4. Watershed Park
The ultimate northwest wonderland lies in Watershed Park. Covering over 150 acres, this rainforest park contains trails that twist and turn throughout the property. The terrain varies from steep trails to boardwalks across marshy wetlands. Deep within the park lies the Moxlie Creek Springs Basin, once the source of nearly all of Olympia’s water. The park is accessible from several points including Henderson Boulevard and McCormick Court. Whether you’re after a quick jaunt through the woods or a day of exploring, a trip to Watershed will meet your needs.
5. Tumwater Historical Park
As an enthusiast of both beer and nostalgia, I especially enjoy visiting this park. Tumwater Historical Park is perched on the Deschutes River, just across from the now defunct Olympia Brewery. While it no longer brews the iconic Olympia lager, the building still entices from across the waterway. The park is grassy and spacious, perfect for picnics on a sunny day. There is plenty of parking, a playground for the little ones, and a picnic shelter for the inevitable rain shower.
Aside from the obvious benefits of exercise and vitamin D, spending time outdoors has also been proven to lift spirts and reduce stress levels. Nature’s mood-booster is free of charge and has zero side effects. This list of all-natural happiness trails merely scratches the surface of what Thurston County has to offer in the way of outdoor adventures. So don your sunglasses and lace up your walking shoes – you’ve got some exploring to do.
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.