Living Green Olympia: A Walk in the Park: Tumwater Falls Park

A Walk in the Park: Tumwater Falls Park

A Walk in the Park: Tumwater Falls Park

As is the case on most sunny days, I put off the more mundane desk tasks and venture out into the city to go exploring. My destination today? Tumwater Falls Park.

So, with the thermostat registering at a balmy 68, my assistant daughter (Addy) and I headed out, sunroof open & "Itsy Bitsy Spider" blaring on the speakers. Our first stop was at the upper park and trails at Tumwater Falls Park. Addy was quick to point out the cool boats at the playground, butTumwater Falls Park I assured her there were more exciting things to see down the trail. We snuck past the salmon hatchery with caution (she is still traumatized by the huge salmon that jumped up and splashed her last fall) and walked down to the upper falls at the foot of the Olympia Brewery building.

We  I spent a few minutes admiring the power and beauty of the falls, until I noticed Addy swaying back and forth while she held her hands over her ears. That was our cue to move along.

We crossed over the bridge, which was less scary than anticipated, and once back on solid ground she we let out a few shrieks of joy. The trail is nicely manicured yet it maintains a rugged natural feel. We walked along smiling for a few minutes, enjoying the natural beauty until a waterfall jumped out of the hillside and surprised us.


Being the fearless leader of our expedition I forged ahead to examine the source of the waterfall. Addy crept along hesitantly behind me. Luckily this waterfall was more of a trickle so it was safe to pass. We tiptoed across the stream using the stepping stones to the other side and continued down the trail.

Walking the trails at Tumwater Falls Park

Our heart rates were just settling back to normal when we heard the thundering of yet another surprise waterfall coming out of the hillside. This one was much larger and the noise made it almost unpassable. After much soul searching, we found the motivation to go for it. We practically hurdled the stream we were in such a hurry to get past it.

The biggest test lay up ahead though. At Tumwater Falls Park, the trails run up either side of the Deschutes River and at the end of the trails, they are brought together by a long wooden bridge that runs right over the top of the biggest of the falls. We were frozen in our tracks. Surely we weren't the first to conquer this bridge and cross over to the other side, but in our minds this was uncharted territory. The first step onto the bridge was followed by 2 steps back onto land. This was going to be tougher than we thought. We decided that a tandem approach was the best way to pass this obstacle, so I loaded Addy up on my shoulders and we stepped back onto the bridge.

The first few steps went smoothly. Then the rushing water below us began to produce such a deafening roar that I'm pretty sure the bridge began to shake. The water was conspiring against us and it began coming after us in the form of an evil mist, rising up all around the bridge. But there was no turning back. We held our breath and focused on the end of the bridge. Each step came a little quicker than the last until we finally set foot on solid ground again. A chill ran down our spines so we did a little dance to wiggle the evil spirits out of us.

Feeling relieved and rejuvinated, we started running joyously up this new trail. Once we were a safe distance away we turned back to reflect on our journey over the bridge. And now that we were on stable ground looking back at the bridge, it didn't seem so intimidating after all. In fact, it looked peaceful. We decided that our courage had tamed the mighty waterfalls. This was cause for celebration. So off we headed, for peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and juice boxes, and the sweet taste of victory.

Tumwater Falls Park

For more photos from our adventure at Tumwater Falls Park, visit Living in Olympia on Facebook!


Mike Conner

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Comment balloon 3 commentsMike Conner • March 24 2010 01:47PM


What a delightful description of a visit to the park.  Congrats to the two brave explorers :D

Posted by Mary almost 10 years ago

Thank you Mary :-) It was definitely a fun day, and a fun story to write! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

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