Getting Kids Out Into Nature

Tolmie State Park, TR 3/17/17

tolmie state park, spring, hikes for kids, rainy day, forest, olympia
Curvy Boardwalk

I recently had the chance to drop my kids off with Grandma in the South Sound, and I had the afternoon free to do a hike by myself. Since I was already down there, I thought I should check out a new trail for the website. I picked Tolmie State Park, northwest of Olympia on the Sound. The park was easy to find by just following signs off the freeway, and I was one of only 3 cars in the parking lot when I arrived. The rain had started in earnest an hour or two earlier, so I figured it would be a wet one. I parked at the lower parking lot near the beach, and walked the Beach Trail out around the perimeter of the harbor.

tolmie state park, spring, native plants, olympia, hikes for kids, forest
Skunk Cabbage

The skunk cabbage were emerging, pungent and fresh, sending spiral sprouts out to fill the mucky bottoms. Indian Plum shrubs were in full bloom, and other shrubs were thinking of leafing out.

The Beach Trail extends for about a quarter of a mile, and 2 picnic tables are at the end in case you want to have a snack or lunch. The tide was way out, and I walked out onto the sandy beach to see what I could find.

tolmie state park, hikes for kids, beaches, spring, sand dollar beds
Expansive Mud Flats

Abundant worm holes pocked the sand. Enchanting sand dollar beds appeared farther out, the purple fuzzy live creatures sitting diagonally in the substrate.

tolmie state park, beaches, hikes for kids, spring
Sand dollar beds

Tiny baby sand dollars lay around, as well. Crows and seagulls poked around in the oyster and clam shells.

tolmie state park, hiking with kids, spring, flowers, wet
Soggy Trillium, the First of the Year

I worked my way back to the main parking area, and took the Four Cedars Trail up the bluff and around through the forest. The first trilliums were blooming, and white-crowned sparrows, robins and juncos chirped in the bushes. The moss that covered everything fairly glowed in the muted light.

tolmie state park, green, rainy, trails, hiking with kids, washington, spring
Glowing Moss

It was starting to feel like spring, though the weather persisted to soak through my coat. This trail is perhaps the muddiest I have ever been on. Even up high on the hillside, there are deep mud pits.

tolmie state park, hikes for kids, spring, olympia, hiking,
Long stretch of mud

I wished I had my gaiters on, and was thankful at least for waterproof shoes, but in some spots the mud threatened to overtop my boots. There are sturdy boardwalks in many sections, which really helps, but this is a very wet trail.

Young children will enjoy the interpretive signs that point out interesting forest features along the way.

tolmie state park, hiking, hikes for kids, rain, wet, spring, shady,
Interpretive Signs

The trail crosses a few streams and goes through a wetland area. I wondered if there would be frogs there in the spring and summer. At one point it intersects with the Twin Creeks Trail, which is a shortcut back to the parking lot if young children are getting tired. I wound around through the forest and back down to the parking lot. I ended my hike soaked through (my rain coat only kinda sorta works), but happy. It’s good to work out the body and get some peace for the mind.

If You Go: Tolmie SP is open for reduced hours in the winter. It’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays through April 15, 2017. During the summer it’s open every day from 8:00 AM until dusk. There are 3 miles of hiking trails, with around 250 feet elevation gain. There are restrooms, picnic areas, running water, and a freshwater shower at the lower parking area. You’ll need your Discover Pass. It sounds like the area is pretty popular in the summer, and there is limited parking, so go early to avoid crowds on weekends. If you go in the rainy season, consider bringing gaiters and trekking poles. I also recommend bringing a change of clothes for youngsters, and a towel would be a good idea, as well. Pay attention for stinging nettles in the park during spring and summer.

One Response to Tolmie State Park, TR 3/17/17

Leave a Reply