Your dog doesn’t mind when the weather changes and the rains come. In fact, most dogs get energized as the weather turns cooler. After all, what’s more fun than chasing leaves, jumping in puddles or rolling in the mud? However, if your dog then expects to lounge with you on the couch or curl up your bed, you’ve got a problem. Our long rainy season may mean you don’t take your dog out as much, tired of the bath that is needed afterward to get the mud off. Fortunately, here in Thurston County we have plenty of dog-friendly trails that are mud-free, making it easy to keep Fido happy and trim, without needing a daily bath. Here are a few places to explore with your best canine friend. Just don’t forget your poop bags and lead, as all of these trails require dogs to be kept on leash.
Heritage Park and Marathon Park Trails
If you are looking for a short walk, the Heritage Park Trail may be a good choice. At around 1.7 miles, it’s a nice length for a quick afternoon stroll before dark or when you don’t have time for a longer walk. The best part is it’s a nice loop around Capitol Lake, giving you lovely scenery to look at it. It connects to the Marathon Park Trail, for a total of 5.7 miles of trails. It also connects to the Hillside Trail, that leads up to the Capitol Campus for more exploring.
Capitol Lake Interpretive Park Trail
As the other end of Capitol Lake, is the Interpretive Park Trail that also has a small loop you can walk with your dog. It connects to the other Capitol Lake trails. This is a cinder path, so should stay fairly mud free, except in extreme weather.
Karen Fraser Woodland Trail (formerly Lacey Woodland Trail)
The Karen Fraser Woodland Trail is a short, 2.2-mile paved trail that runs parallel to Pacific Avenue, right through the center of downtown Lacey and into Olympia. It makes for a great dog walk, as you can window shop and even stop for a cup of coffee on your way. This trail connects to the Chehalis-Western Trail. Park at Woodland Creek Community Park.
Olympia Woodland Trail
The Olympia Woodland Trail has its main trailhead at Eastside Street and Wheeler Avenue in Olympia, though it can also be accessed at the Woodland Creek Community Park where it meets the Karen Fraser Woodland Trail. Like many of the trails in our area, this is part of the rails-to-trails program that has converted old railroad lines into trails. This gorgeous trail will give you and your dog both something to look at, boasting over 12,000 native tree and shrub plantings. This trail is five-miles long and has both paved and gravel portions.
The Chehalis-Western Trail is a fun trip through history. You can imagine the trains that operated along the route from 1926 through the mid-1980s as you and your dog meander down the paved trail. Out of the total trail length, 22 miles of the trail are in Thurston County. It meets up with the Yelm-Tenino Trail as well as the Karen Fraser Woodland Trail. There are lots of things to see and do along the trail, including picnic areas should the weather prove nice enough. There are many trailheads with parking: Chamber Lake Boat Launch, Scenic Overlook at Chambers Ways, Yelm High Pedestrian Overpass, 67th Avenue, Fir Tree Road and Woodard Bay.
Take your dog for a jaunt down the Thurston County Bountiful Byway via the Yelm-Tenino Trail. Connecting to the Chehalis-Western, this rails-to-trails track is a paved 14.5 miles. There are many fun shops and places along the way to window shop, and places to stop and rest if needed. If you and your dog are avid walkers, you can see the fun towns of Yelm, Rainier and Tenino on this trail, making it a nice break from the bigger cities.
Rainier Vista Community Park
The paved trails at Rainer Vista Community Park are short and fun, perfect for an older dog or if you don’t have a lot of time for a long walk. The park has two loops, a 0.7-mile trail and a 1-mile trail, both paved to ensure a mud-free outing.