Being stuck inside the State in the times of Corona doesn’t mean you cannot explore or find some utterly exquisite pockets of nature where you don’t even expect them. Last Sunday, my husband, Don, and I wanted to get some exercise in the area, and I still have that wonderful book (https://www.amazon.com/Take-Walk-Through-Natural-Places/dp/1570613265) I bought before I moved over here, fully knowing I’d always need my nature walks. This time we chose an area in Olympia that we hadn’t discovered yet – and were not disappointed.
Leaving I-5 on Exit 105B, sticking to the left lane and undercrossing the Interstate, you quickly reach a roadside parking lot off Henderson Boulevard. Watershed Park offers a loop trail through mostly densely forested area. So, don’t expect great views. But it is still an awful lot of fun to walk the 1.4-mile trail. Even on a Sunday we found it hardly frequented, and the traffic noise was soon drowned out by myriad of songbirds singing their little hearts out. All kinds of wildflowers were blossoming by the wayside, and the salmonberries were gleaming orange from their branches. After a short dip into a valley, we crossed Moxlie Creek with its stunningly clear water and sandy bed; a little bench by the bridge invited to sit and ponder, but we went on. Soon afterwards, there was a short, but quite steep climb. On top of the climb (the only big one in the loop), there was another bench to help those winded to catch their breath again. Little platforms that afforded us glimpses of Moxlie Creek meandering through the valley, boardwalks, bridges, some steps – we sure had quite an unexpected work-out with lots of variety to play into our search for a quiet, but entertaining walk. It’s thanks to environmentalist Margret McKenny, the “Grande Dame” of Northwest mushrooming, by the way, that Watershed Park was preserved in 1955 instead of being logged and sold off as so many other places in the area.
We decided that we wanted to do a little more exploring and headed back to Olympia on the same road we had come, past Plum Street, East Bay Drive, and Priest Point Park. Shortly before the town limits of Boston Harbor, we found our next destination, Burfoot Park. There is plenty of parking space around a large meadow with picnic tables and a (now closed) playground. We headed off to the rhododendron trail (we saw not a single bush that would have fitted the description) and then entered the beach trail.
This is probably fun for kids and everybody whose knees can work the trail – it starts steeply downhill via numerous stairs, right to the bottom of a ravine. From there you can already glimpse the thinning fringe of the forest. A couple of bridges lead to you to a pond. We were too happy to watch a Mama duck oversee her four fluffy ducklings, while Papa duck was dozing on a floating tree trunk a bit farther off. And my husband pointed out a blue heron on the other side of the pond. He always finds some hidden wildlife and manages to add some special spark to my already bubbling enthusiasm over nature’s beauty.
And then – the beach. It’s pebbly. It’s relatively wide and offers room to quite a number of people. I wished we’d brought a picnic in a basket or rucksack and maybe some chairs to lounge and watch sailboats go by. The skies were dramatic enough to be a spectacle by themselves. To the South, the Capitol could be seen from its lofty seat on the hill above the city. To the north you could glimpse the majestic white peaks of the Olympics peeking out from the clouds. Kids were frolicking on the beach. Across from the inlet another tongue of land …
We took another way back, equally steep but shorter. Somebody had set up tents and was celebrating probably a birthday with friends and family in the picnic meadow. Another park with stunning views under our belt, and so many more places to discover within a few miles distance! Food for the soul, exercise for the body – I can’t help but thinking that Western Washington truly has it all.