Trail of the Month: Ellis Cove

The Ellis Cove trail in Olympia offers a glimpse of the landscape as it appeared in the 1800s.

By Craig Romano November 28, 2012 Published in the December 2012 issue of Seattle Met

Difficulty Easy
Distance 2.5 miles

Much has changed on Budd Inlet since Father Pascal Ricard built his mission on Ellis Cove in south Puget Sound in 1848—including the heretofore nonexistent city of Olympia, which now occupies the nearby shoreline. Yet the 300-acre Olympia city park named Priest Point for Father Ricard still looks the way it did in the 1800s. And the Ellis Cove trail is a great introduction to the century-old forest and undeveloped coastline of the park. Drop into a deep ravine and turn right at a junction. Round Ellis Cove on a big boardwalk and come to another junction—this one marked with a mossy carved-bear sign.

Continue left to the beach on Ellis Cove. Explore it or carry on—climbing up a bluff and staying left at the next junction. Meander through forest, passing more junctions to shortcuts and beach access, and continue on the Ellis Cove Trail, eventually returning to the bear sign junction. 

Watch for The wooden bear sculpture climbing a towering fir

Getting there From Seattle, follow I-5 south to Olympia taking Exit 105B to Plum St. Continue north to East Bay Dr. Follow East Bay Dr for 1.5 miles, turning right into Priest Point Park. Proceed 0.2 miles and turn left, crossing a bridge and reaching a parking lot and trailhead shortly afterward. 

Trail of the Month is written by Craig Romano, the author of eight hiking books, including Winter Hikes of Western Washington (Mountaineers Books).

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