Perched on the rippling blue waters of south Puget Sound, Olympia is the capitol of Washington State. The state’s largest city, Olympia is cosmopolitan and crowded, with enough rush-hour traffic to choke a camel.
But look closer. This cosmopolitan capitol city has plenty to offer outdoor enthusiasts, especially at Priest Point Park.
Stepping into the park’s lush 314 acres is like falling into a vat of verdure. Eye-popping mountain vistas abound. They’re best viewed along the park’s four miles of hiking trails or two miles of saltwater shoreline of Priest Point Park. (Pro tip: Watch the tides along the shore. It’s easy to get stuck if you’re not paying attention.)Priest Point Park includes standard amenities like playgrounds and picnic areas. But the real gem of Priest Point Park – and perhaps all of outdoor Olympia – is the Ellis Cove Trail.
The Ellis Cove Trail is an ideal spot to enjoy Pacific Northwest beauty. Soak up some solitude. Watch bald eagles soar and ospreys fish. Chug through a magnificent forest. Suck in huge chunks of conifer-crisped air. You can also snag wide-angle views of the state capitol to the south and the distant Olympic Mountains to the north.
This 2.5 mile loop trail is steep in places, but manageable. Muddy and slick in wet weather, the trail includes boardwalk, steps, hills, bridges, and plenty of winding curves. You may have to clamber over downed logs near the beach, so keep a sharp eye out.
Priest Point Park got its name from a small group of Catholic missionaries, the Oblat Fathers. They arrived in the region in 1848. The Fathers cleared the land, planted a large garden, built a chapel, and established the St. Joseph d’Olympia mission. The mission closed in 1860. The land later become Priest Point Park.
The park is located at 2600 East Bay Dr NE in Olympia. Here’s a Priest Point Park Map.
Heading north on East Bay Drive, the Ellis Cove trail head is on the left, just past the second park entrance. The trail head is located at 3302 East Bay Drive NE in Olympia.
Olympia is located about 60 miles southwest of Seattle in Thurston County. The city has over 1,200 acres of park land including neighborhood, community, and open space parks. For more information about Olympia’s parks, call 360.753.8380 or submit a request online.