There is nothing like heading out into nature, taking a walk or a run, breathing fresh air and glimpsing wildlife. Though we definitely get our fair share of rain here, when the days are warm and dry, we are rewarded for it by the beauty that is unique to the Pacific Northwest. If you are wondering where to go for a walk in Olympia, you must try the four trails at the Capitol Land Trust Preserve. All four trails have free parking and require no permits or passes to enjoy.
“All four preserves have relatively flat trails and the surfaces vary between mulch, dirt, and old access roads—which make them all family friendly,” says Sierra Jacobs, membership engagement manager for Capital Land Trust. However, none of the trails are paved, so it’s something to consider if you have a stroller or wheelchair. Jacobs adds that currently Capitol Land Trust is working toward making the Bayshore Preserve trail ADA compliant.
There are no picnic tables, but plenty of spaces to stop and eat what you packed in. There are also no garbage cans or bathrooms on the preserves. Remember to pack everything back out with you to keep the area beautiful and safe for all, including the animals, to enjoy.
All of the preserves have different animals that either live there, or pass through on their migration route. “Early morning is the best for birding, especially on cool days,” Jacobs advises. “Visit any preserve in the morning and be rewarded with the sweet sounds of nature!”
4939 Mud Bay Road NW, Olympia
The Randall Preserve trail in Olympia is a short .5-mile loop within the seven-acre tideland estuary and shoreline. It’s located on the southern-most end of Puget Sound on Mud Bay. “Small kids might particularly enjoy the 300-foot loop trail at Randall Preserve, which has no elevation gain and views of the shoreline,” says Jacobs. It’s home to may migratory birds, fish and other animals that they might enjoy looking for as well. Look for migrating shorebirds from the arctic in the fall.
Darlin Creek Preserve
8910 Lake Lucinda Drive SW, Olympia
Darlin Creek Preserve has two trails inside the 312 acres, consisting of 200 acres of forest, 70 acres of wetland and Lake Lucinda. Here you may see beavers, river otters and rough-skinned newts. “Darlin Creek Preserve has a 1-mile and a 2-mile loop that would be doable for kids that are walking,” shares Jacobs. “The beaver dam and bridges are interesting walk highlights!” Darlin Creek trails have a 140-foot elevation gain.
If you are looking for wildlife, Darlin Creek is a good choice. “Wildlife sightings are especially common at Darlin Creek Preserve, due to its freshwater wetlands,” Jacobs says. “Keep an eye out for native rough-skinned newts while walking the trails, they have amazing camouflage! They will be most active December – July while they are mating in freshwater ponds.”
For the best photography opportunities, take the Wetland Forest Loop Trail through the freshwater wetlands, says Jacobs.
W Hulbert Road, Shelton
The Hilburn Preserve is 10 acres of forested land and has a half-mile trail. There are stairs on the trail. In October and November, you can watch the salmon run from Hilburn trails.
3800 WA-3, Shelton
The Bayshore Preserve used to be a golf course and is now a nature preserve with approximately three miles of walking trails. You can see salmon run here in October and November as well. And migrating shorebirds from the arctic in the fall. If you are looking to photograph wildlife, check out the Johns Creek Trail along the creek-side vegetation says Jacobs.
For more information about Capitol Land Trust’s public-access preserves visit the Capital Land Trust website.