The Traveler’s Guide to Hiking in Olympia, WA
Olympia in Washington is a fascinating place to visit with plenty of things to see and do, and there is something to suit all tastes. You will find historical attractions, family-oriented attractions, fantastic restaurants, and much more. One reason people visit Olympia is to enjoy the outdoors, as there are some amazing parks in Olympia, and the city is surrounded by areas of natural beauty with varied landscapes. Therefore, hiking is one of the most popular outdoor pursuits to enjoy in this location, and there are many excellent trails to hike during a visit. Here is a traveler’s guide to hiking in Olympia, WA.
Capitol Peak Trail
According to Experience Olympia, the best trail in Olympia for experienced hikers is Capitol Peak Trail. It is ideal for advanced hikers and trail runners who do not want to share the trail with lots of other walkers as it is often quiet. The all-day hike takes you up an elevation of 2,300 feet, and the diverse terrain combined with the elevation is why this trail is classed as challenging. However, there are multiple starting points along the way, so there are options for those with less experience who do not want to take on all the trail’s challenges. Capitol Peak Trail is also one of Olympia’s best trails if you want to enjoy impressive views.
Capitol Lake Trail
If you want to enjoy an urban trail during your visit to Olympia, then the Capitol Lake Trail is probably the best option. It is a loop trail that has lots of history, and it has plenty of stopping places along the way. The trail is just 1.5-miles in length, so it is an easy walk for inexperienced hikers, and it is suitable for children.
Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk and Twin Barns Trail
All Trails recommends the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk and Twin Barns Trail as one of the best places to hike in Olympia. It is an out and back trail that is just under 4.5 miles in length, and there is hardly any elevation to tackle. It is a trail that people of most skill levels can manage, and it runs alongside a pretty river. The trail is accessible all year-round, and it is popular for nature trips and birdwatching.
Mima Falls Loop
One of the most famous and popular hiking trails in Olympia is the Mima Falls Loop. This trail is close to the town, and it starts at Mima Campground. It is a six-mile loop trail that takes you past the Mima Falls, although you need to veer off the official trail if you want to see the waterfalls. The first section of the trail is uphill, and then you head back down the other side of the hill after the waterfalls. You will pass through Capitol Forest on your return journey.
According to Thurston Talk, one of the Olympic Mountains’ steepest hikes is the Mount Rose trail. The trailhead for this 6.4-mile trail is near Lake Cushman. The trail begins with a climb of 3,500 feet over three miles. You are rewarded with spectacular views of Hood Canal, Lake Cushman, and the surrounding peaks at the top. The second section of the trail takes you back down to the base of Mount Rose.
Lower South Fork Skokomish
The full length of the Lower South Fork Skokomish is 20.6 miles. However, there are several points where you can join or leave the trail, so you can complete as little as two miles if you wish. Therefore, you can choose your own adventure based on your abilities and the time you have available. If you complete the full trail, you will walk for 10.3-miles along the Skokomish River and then come back again the same way as it is an out-and-back trail.
Although the 3,500-feet elevation may seem intimidating, the Marmot Pass trail is not as challenging as it initially seems as the inclination is gradual and steady. It is an 11.5-mile hike that takes you along a well-maintained trail that follows the Big Quilcene River before padding the Shelter Stop Camp. If you want to stop for lunch, then Shelter Stop Camp is the best stopping point along the trail. You will then climb to Camp Mystery to reach Marmot Pass. From this vantage point, you can enjoy panoramic views of Puget Sound, the magnificent Olympics, and the Cascades.
The Wynochee Lake Trail is a 16-mile loop trail. It is on the Southern Olympic Peninsula, and it passes through Douglas Fir Groves. One thing that makes this trail stand out from others in the area is that there are multiple opportunities for swimming along the way. Although it is a couple of hours from Olympia, it is worth making an effort to get there for a fun day out with scenic views. If you visit during the summer months, you can cut the trail length to 12-miles by crossing the river while the water levels are low.
McLane Creek Nature Trail
If you prefer to walk shorter trails, then a great option is the McLane Creek Nature Trail. This loop trail is an approachable two miles, although there is also a shorter option. The trail takes you through the rainforest, so it is a fantastic walk for nature lovers to enjoy as the rainforest is home to a vast array of wildlife, including fish, birds, and newts.
Tolmie State Park
There are three miles of trails in Tolmie State Park, with various routes with different sights. The trails vary from loops to figure of eight trails, and although they are short, most are fairly steep. Therefore, you can complete the trails comparatively quickly but enjoy the challenges along the way. Many of the trails take you along the Puget Sound shoreline. Tolmie State Park covers 154 acres on Nisqually Beach.