Millersylvania State Park─Amble among ancient trees just minutes from Olympia

This loop hike includes a series of boardwalks across a sprawling wetland.

This loop hike includes a series of boardwalks across a sprawling wetland.

Quick Facts:

Location: Thurston County

Land Agency: Washington State Parks

Roundtrip: 3.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 75 feet

Contact: Washington State Parks

Recommended Resource: Urban Trails Olympia 

Notes: Discover Pass required; Dogs must be leashed.

Access: From Olympia, head south on I-5 to Exit 99. Continue southeast on SR 121 for 4.2 miles. Turn right (west) into main park entrance immediately coming to parking area on left.

Good to Know: Kid-friendly, dog-friendly (on-leash), snow-free winter hike, old-growth forest, campground, swimming, historic CCC structures, practice Leave No Trace Principles 

A mere ten miles from the state capital, 842-acre Millersylvania State Park offers a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of southern Pugetopolis. Consisting of one of the largest tracts of old growth forest remaining within the Puget Trough, the park offers quite a contrast to the nearby urban I-5 corridor. Millersylvania provides you with an opportunity to step back into a quieter and simpler time—and appreciate our primeval forests—and reflect on how much of our natural heritage has been lost.

Once the homestead of John Miller, he bequeathed this large tract to the state in 1921 with the stipulation that it must remain a park. It was John who named this property Millersylvania, meaning “wooded glade.” In 1935 the Civilian Conservation Corp developed it into a lovely state park. Many of their structures are still standing within the park, although time and a lack of adequate funding for restoration has taken its toll on several of them. The park contains more than 8.0 miles of trails ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and running.

This loop serves as a great introduction. Starting across from the ranger residence, follow the trail north .4 mile to an old orchard and parking area. Then continue .2 mile north on the Fitness Trail reaching a junction with an old service road. From here head west on the old road under a canopy of mature timber ignoring side trails. After .7 mile, come to a small bridge spanning Spruce Creek. Cross the creek and climb a small hillside draped in ancient timber reaching a junction after 0.6 mile.

The trail straight leads to two small loops; which if taken adds a little more than a mile to this hike. Turn left here passing a gargantuan fir and descend to a large wetland area traversed by a series of boardwalks. Cross Spruce Creek once more and come to the trail’s end at a boat launch parking area. Return to your vehicle by hiking a half mile trail along Deep Lake passing swimming and picnic areas.

For detailed information on this park and many more in the region, pick up a copy of my  local best seller, Urban Trails Olympia (Mountaineers books). This wonderful guide includes trails throughout Thurston County, in Shelton, on Harstine Island, and in the Capitol State Forest. Pick up your copy today!

For information on other things to do in the area and on where to stay, consult Northwest TripFinder.


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