You don’t need to drive far or be a hardcore hiker to reach rainforest trails if you are in the Olympia area. That’s because the trails at The Evergreen State College (Evergreen) give you a great induction into the local woodland experience of Thurston County. In fact, the college’s trails provide you access to a forest, creeks, a coastal beach and more.

The Evergreen State College’s Trail System Presents Variety for Walkers, Hikers and Runners

“The trail is very peaceful and quiet,” says Kelly Wilson, who recently hiked the college’s Geoduck Beach Trail – also called the Evergreen Beach Trail or E-1 Trail – for the first time. “It’s beautiful. You have a little bit of everything. The woods, a creek, the beach. You can get all that in one hour.”

Evergreen’s trails are popular for walking, hiking and running. If you love Western sword ferns, shady glens with big leaf maples and Douglas firs forming an overhead canopy, the smell of cedar, the splash of red in huckleberry bushes, the gurgle of an occasional creek, traversing small bridges, a few changes in elevation, and a saltwater beach destination, then make time to visit Evergreen’s trails.

The Washington Trails Association says the beach trail to Eld Inlet, one of the several walking paths at the campus, is 1.6 miles roundtrip, with an elevation gain of 238 feet, and the highest point at 201 feet. With other trails branches leading to and from the main beach path, you can make your forest foray last from one to several hours.

An online trail map can guide you. Directional posts are stationed along the path to the beach. A trail map is also located at the trailhead at Lot F on Driftwood Road, a convenient parking spot. Downloading a trail app like the TREAD Map app and selecting Evergreen Geoduck Trail lets you see what the trail looks like.

Kids and Dogs Welcome on Evergreen’s Trails in Olympia

a young boy, a black dog and
Judah Morss carries a piece of a tree he found on The Evergreen State College’s trail while walking with his mom Jessica Morss and his dog Samson. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

While the Evergreen trails are kid friendly, some sections will be a bit challenging for a stroller due to tree roots, bluffs near the water’s edge, and mud during the rainy months. But if your younger hikers can walk or be carried, you are good to go.

The college’s trail system offers a woodland and shore experience for dogs, too. Bring Fido helps locate dog-friendly places to travel. “Evergreen’s campus includes a large network of trails leading to the college’s Organic Farm, unspoiled forested areas, and beach on the Puget Sound,” Bring Fido writes. “Dogs are often found sniffing around the forest and frolicking on the beach.”

Jessica Morss of Olympia recently walked Evergreen’s beach trail to give both her dog Samson and her toddler son Judah a fun outdoor adventure. Judah was seen carrying a large piece of wood that he discovered, and he planned to bring it to the beach.

Watching Birds and Critters on Evergreen’s Trails

The Black Hills Audubon Society describes that several species of birds are ready for you to spot while you enjoy Evergreen’s beach trail. “The trail offers upland songbirds and waterfowl along the shore,” the society reports. “Winter forest migrants include kinglets, fox sparrow, golden crown sparrows and varied thrush. Winter aquatics include buffleheads, goldeneye, scoters, scaup, and others. Summer migrants include rufous hummingbirds, Swainson’s thrush, swallows, flycatchers, western tanager, black headed grosbeak, vireos, warblers and others.”

man walking down the trail at The Evergreen State College
Multiple trails through the woods at The Evergreen State College let you get outside and enjoy the rainforest, creeks and beach. Parking is free on weekends and college-observed holidays. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

Non-aerial critters also make the college’s trails and beach their home. Deer, squirrels, jellyfish, crabs, sand dollars, clams, and the occasional seal or whale, are just some of the diverse wildlife to watch for.

Tides on Eld Beach in Olympia

The college wants you to enjoy the beach. “Just a short walk from campus, you have access to more than 3,000 feet of unspoiled beach on the Puget Sound,” the college website explains. “Bring waterproof boots and wade offshore, comb the beach for shells and clams, or sit and watch for seals.”

Don’t forget to check the tides if you are planning to walk the shoreline or spend some time sitting on the beach just relaxing.

More Information on Evergreen’s Trails

Visit this page for more information Evergreen recreation and trails. Click here for directions to this college in Olympia and this page for parking details and when you arrive, look for the F-Lot. Parking is free on the weekends and college-observed holidays.


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