McLane Creek is an easy hike. Many of you will want to stop reading after that first sentence, but then you would miss out on the beauty of the one of greatest short hiking trails within just 5 miles of Olympia, Washington. Nestled in the hills, McLane Creek park exists in simplistic perfection. If you want a small, local rainforest, you couldn’t do much better than this park.
In a little over a mile loop, you can walk next to a beaver pond, be surrounded by ferns and moss-draped trees, and cross over a creek that has salmon running below your feet. This is McLane Creek, a park for hikers of all ages, levels and moods.
The trail in this park is amazing, with the majority of your steps falling on perfect paths or raised boardwalks to keep you out of the mud on rainy days. This is possibly the best designed trail in the state, it is that nice. Granted, the past two winters have been rough on the area and the trail isn’t 100% perfect, but don’t worry, plans are in the works to fix it.
The trail starts at the end of the paved road, where you will see a covered area. Take the trail to the right, which drops immediately next to a beaver dam and pond, located on your right. Keep an eye out for them, as sometimes people get lucky and see them. On your left, you can look over the larger beaver pond and spot birds and turtles. Don’t worry, you will be coming back by this area and able to stand on the extended platforms later.
The next section goes through a grove of cedar, hemlock and maple trees, complete with ferns and moss. The trail leads to a spit in the trees, allowing you to stare up in awe at the huge wooden giants. Follow the trail to the right and you will soon cross a bridge over a small stream. This stream in the fall is full of salmon, returning to breed and die at the place of their birth. In the spring, if you walk down to the banks of the river, you can see the fry, the infant salmon, starting to head downstream to find salt water.
The path again goes along the trees and river, giving glimpses to the density of the forest, and giving you a history lesson with interpretive signs placed along the way. Once you reach the pond again, take your time and enjoy the solitude of this beaver made pond. With migratory birds constantly stopping in, McLane creek is a hotbed of excellent birding.
McLane Creek can get busy on nice sunny days, but generally if you show up early you will have it to yourself. Gorgeous in the sun, mysterious in the rain and beautiful in all weather, McLane Creek needs to be seen by you. This is how a developed trail should be, and hopefully the more of us that enjoy this park, the more parks like this will be made.
McLane Creek Quick Sheet
Take the Highway 101 Exit from Interstate 5. Exit 101 at Mudbay. Take a left at the stop sign and another left on Delphi Road.
At 3.4 miles, turn right at the DNR McLane Creek Nature Trail, which looks like a double driveway.
Elevation Gain: 50ft
Dog Friendly-leashes mandatory
Kid Friendly- leashes optional
A Discover Pass is required.
Birding information: http://blackhills-audubon.org/bestplaces/peep.best.mclane.htm (The trail map is also from this site)
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