Getting Kids Out Into Nature

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Category Archives: Beach

Tolmie State Park, TR 3/17/17

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sand dollar beds

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Semiahmoo Park – Trip Report, 3/10/17

We recently took an afternoon and drove up to Semiahmoo Spit near Blaine to do some birding and check out a new-to-us trail. Semiahmoo Spit is a long sand spit that protects Drayton Harbor. Historically this area was used by Native Americans for harvesting natural resources, and it became an abundant salmon canning area after…Continue Reading

Larrabee SP and Whatcom Falls Park – Trip Report

On Friday we made a quick afternoon trip up to Bellingham to visit Larrabee State Park and Whatcom Falls Park. We tried real hard to miss the rain showers, but ended up getting caught in a few. It was worth it anyway! We didn’t get started until a little after noon. I should know better…Continue Reading

Winter Camping – Salt Creek Recreation Area and Dungeness Spit

Camping in February? This was a first for my family. I don’t think I’ve ever braved late winter/early spring camping before, but the weather was looking so nice, and we had two bonus days off from classes, so I thought we’d give it a try. We had heard good things about the camping at the…Continue Reading

Guemes Channel and Ship Harbor Trail, Anacortes

A couple of weeks ago we took advantage of a warm afternoon to hike a new trail to us: Guemes Channel and Ship Harbor Trails up in Anacortes. We found these little gems in Craig Romano’s newest hiking guide for the San Juans and Gulf Islands. Leaving from a cul-de-sac, the trails go off in…Continue Reading

Cranberry Lake/Cama Beach State Park

Last Friday we were able to squeeze a quick trip in between morning and evening commitments.  We’ve had many Fridays like this lately – seems we haven’t had the time we are used to having!  We took a little drive up to Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island.  I had never been there before,…Continue Reading

Washington Park, Anacortes – Trip Report

Sometimes we don’t really feel like hiking on a particular day.  Sometimes we’re tired, we’ve been running from one thing to the next and the next with no room to breathe.  We face a choice – continue to be busy and go hiking (with all the preparation and energy exertion that requires) or stay home,…Continue Reading

Stalking Snowy Owls

OK, well, maybe we didn’t really need to do any stalking, but we had a neat trip last weekend to go see some visiting snowy owls.  Some of you might remember last year when we had a record number of snowy owls visiting the lower 48.  Last year was an irruption year, when conditions are…Continue Reading

School at the Beach

We had plans yesterday to go to the Seattle Art Museum for First Thursday, when it’s free, but with a forecast of warm sunshine, I just couldn’t bear to be inside all day.  I wasn’t feeling up for a hike, though, and we hadn’t spent much time at the beach this summer, so we all…Continue Reading

Camping Weekend at Twin Harbors State Park

My husband had his 25th class reunion last weekend.  Apparently no one wanted to meet in the charming town of Winlock (former egg capital of the world, and home to a giant egg statue).  The planners of the reunion decided to meet in Westport on the beach.  We thought it would be nice to stay…Continue Reading