Loop trails through the beaches, woods and prairies near Olympia, Washington

Tag Archives: Rochester

A gorgeous expanse of rare Northwest prairie adorned with every color of wildflower.

Distance: 2.25 miles

Time:  45 minutes

Steep:  No

Challenging:  No, but you might choose to wear long pants because of scratchy trailside plants

Trailhead:  17900 Guava Street Rochester, WA 98579

After living in the Pacific Northwest for a while, you may realize that our greatest natural treasure, the trees, can create a feeling of being hemmed in.  You can never see very far because everywhere you look, trees are blocking the view.   An awe-inspiring remedy exists just 20 minutes south of Olympia and it’s called the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area.

This little slice of Big Sky country offers 500 acres of wide open, natural prairie.  Early summer is a stunning time to visit as the prairie around you has come alive with wildflowers galore.  White daisies, purple aster and blue camas all dance in the breeze as orange butterflies float by.

The easy-to-follow trail begins next to an old blue farm house and abandoned red barn.  Taking the trail counter-clockwise, you come alongside a grove of Garry Oak that line the creek.  The acorns produced by these oaks are an important part of the food chain here on the prairie.  You emerge from the grove quickly enough and are confronted with a truly comforting view:  tall grass and flowers as far as the eye can see, bordered by wooded hills to your north.

As you walk along you may startle little Savannah Sparrows from their hiding places in the brush.  Pairs of hawks cruise overhead, their tails made orange by the sunlight.  The trail stays flat and easy as it rounds the oak grove in the middle of the loop, and pretty soon you can spot the roof of the old red barn.   Just keep following the tire tracks through the grass and you’re back to the trailhead.

After an hour of light and color, you’ve come back to the Little House on the Prairie from whence you began.   Your breathing is expansive and your heart’s a little more open, like the vibrant fields of Scatter Creek.