I glanced up from my phone hearing a commotion down the beach. A man was running toward his picnic table, yelling and flapping his arms because a group of crows were stealing their lunch. After a few minutes of repacking, he crunched back down to the water’s edge, where his young kids and wife were throwing rocks into the Puget Sound.
“They made off with two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”
Chuckling, I decide to stop trying to mess with my phone and its if-y signal and walk down the beach further.
An impromptu trip to Tolmie State Park will prove to be an uncrowded, peaceful respite in your busy week. If you’ve ever gone to Cabela’s in Lacey, you’ve been very near it already.
To get to the rocky beach, you will cross a wooden footbridge that leads to a small spit, the Puget Sound on one side and a stream on the other. On the stream side, you can see hundreds of little crabs scurry away when you walk up to the water’s edge. The sounds of birds are all around you and yet it’s quiet enough to let the sound of lapping water relax every muscle.
Walking back to the bridge, I passed two couples with dogs, who were bounding after each other with such joy that I caught some of it. One of the men had a go-pro camera attached to the end of a stick, and he was filming the dogs’ boundless energy down low like it was another dog playing. I’d love to see that video!
There is a sandy beach if you are willing to work for it. Back by the enclosed picnic shelter and bathrooms there is a trailhead marked “Sandy Beach Trail”. Little kids were over there so the hike couldn’t be that hard, I reasoned. It was a mostly flat, quarter mile hike
through trees, past small orange wildflowers, birds rustling in the brush and even a Garter Snake sunning himself in a patch of sun. At the end was indeed a beach full of soft sand and peace. By the time I made it over there, the beach was empty.
The whole park has picnic tables tucked into little private niches, and the sandy beach was no different. There you will find a picnic table tucked into a sheltered area with views rivaling any resort.
There are other trails for one looking for a longer hike. Four Cedars Trail is an almost two mile loop that takes about an hour to hike through the forest.
If you are a diver, there is a underwater park you can take advantage of, that consists of an artificial reef.
I took one more trip over the bridge before I headed home. I heard a squeal at the water. A family with older kids was wading at the edge. One of them screamed “It’s cold!”, but then she went right back in even deeper. With a smile I breathed in one more lungful of peace
to take with me.
-Michelle Gehlman- Teeter
[Sidebar: Tolmie State Park, 7730 61st Ave. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506
Hours in Summer: 8am- dusk
Hours in Winter (Sept. 17 through April 15) Wed.- Sun. 9am-dusk