Woodland Trail

Interesting stand of trees in Woodland Park.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

I had wanted to spend the day at River Song, but spent the day dealing with plumbing issues, instead. Plus, it had rained pretty hard off and on throughout the day. Not really the best weather for dealing with mossy, fungal-infested deadfall. However, I had to get out for a bit. Living in a tiny, cramped, confining space can become a bit stressful at times. Fortunately, a late afternoon break in the rain provided an opportunity to get outside.

I consulted my Urban Trails Olympia guide and found a new trail: Woodland Trail. It was paved, which I thought would be good considering the amount of rain we’ve had lately. I only needed to walk a few miles, and it looked like Woodland Trail would be perfect. This would just be a walk, not a hike. To me, a “hike” involves a daypack or backpack and hiking boots. I was using none of those.

Woodland Trail intersects the Chehalis-Western Trail and connects Lacey and Olympia. I started at Woodland Creek Park in Lacey. The park has a pretty good sized parking lot, and surprisingly, it was about half full. However, there were few children in the park. Most of the vehicles must have belonged to people using the trail.

Initially, I turned right at the trail and headed toward Olympia. After about a quarter mile, the trail crossed Pacific Avenue. I could see the trail was going to be crossing a lot of busy roads, not something I really wanted to deal with, so I turned around to explore the other direction.

I’m glad I did.

About a half mile down, the trail took a sharp right toward Carpenter Road. However, a dirt road continued straight ahead.

I looked for No Trespassing signs and found none. A sign said it was a future expansion of the existing trail.

Hmmm. This looked far more interesting than the paved path, and there was nobody else on it.

I kept going straight. The road was pretty narrow, wide enough for only one vehicle. The vegetation was pretty wild and unkempt, similar to River Song when I first purchased it. However, there was a dirt trail off to the left, which I thought a little odd. And, there were several weird looking metal things–poles with baskets and chains–in various places along the trail. I had no idea what they were.

I walked down the road about another half mile and then came to a short railroad bridge over the creek. This was an old railroad track! That explained why it was so narrow. Although there was no track on this side of the creek, I could see some on the other side.

The bridge looked safe enough, but there was no way I was going to cross it. I did not want to chance slipping between the railroad ties, especially as wet as they were. I took a few photos and headed back the way I came.

The trails off to the side–now on my right instead of left–kept drawing my interest. Despite my reservations about walking on wet, muddy trails, I decided to take a look.

The trails were well worn; obviously, they were used quite a bit. I was a little concerned that they might lead to homeless encampments, but I didn’t come across any. I followed as they wove through mossy piles of railroad ties, barren trees, and underbrush along the edge of the wetlands. Lots of trails branched off, most as well traveled as the one I was on. Was this where children played, I wondered. There was a housing development on the other side of the dirt road. I couldn’t see any other reason for the trails. I would have loved playing here when I was a kid.

Suddenly, I noticed a movement at my feet. I bent over to take a closer look and saw a little brown salamander hiding in the leaves. How cute! I haven’t seen a salamander in more than 40 years!

I gently picked it up and put it on a leaf to take a closer look. Its little belly was a bright orange, but the back and sides were the same color as the dead leaves. It was well camouflaged. I was surprised I was able to even see it.

I took a few photos with my phone, and then moved the little guy off the trail so it could continue on its way without being molested again.

I explored a few more trails and then headed back to my truck. By this time, the sun was setting, and the park gates close at dark, whether people were still here or not. I did not relish the idea of my Sport Trac being locked up here for the night.

I walked a total of 3.09 miles, just exploring the paved path, dirt road, and trails in the park between Pacific and Carpenter. I don’t think I ever left park grounds. The paths are completely flat, so it’s an easy walk, suitable for almost everyone. The paved path goes for miles and connects Woodland Creek Park with Watershed Park, six miles away. It would be great for running or cycling.

The trails throughout the park itself would be especially great for kids because it is flat with few obstacles. There’s lots of interesting things to see, including an information station about reclaimed water and a stand containing dozens of elevated bird houses.

And the metal things, it turns out, are disc golf “holes.” I’d never heard of disc golf before and had to Google it when I got home. It looks interesting; I might check it out!

Woodland Creek Park is a City of Lacey park and does not require any permit or parking fees.