Washington Hikes: Mima Falls and Mounds

On Mother’s Day morning we set out relatively early for Olympia to check out a new-to-us hiking area – Capitol State Forest. It was cool and cloudy, which were the perfect conditions for a long walk in the woods to a waterfall where the lack of blue skies and views wouldn’t be a problem!

We set out to do the Mima Falls loop – a 6.5-mile, 650 feet of gain trail through a quiet and peaceful mossy forest. There was ample parking at the trailhead and only a couple of cars so we had no trouble gathering our things and hitting the trail. We encountered a couple on bicycles – the trail is open to hiking, biking, and horse-riding – but otherwise had the trail to ourselves.

The trail is very well maintained – it was truly a relaxing walk in the woods.

Until we came to the jog to the waterfall. The longer trail to make the loop was closed! We were super disappointed because the WTA trip reports and signage at the trailhead didn’t say anything about that section being closed. We were bummed but decided to go on to the waterfall and make our excursion a much shorter out-and-back hike.

There’s a small clearing by the falls with places to secure your horses, have a picnic, and scramble down to the water. We took one of the paths down to see the falls, staying somewhat above and looking down on it’s two-tiered flow.

After we had our fill of the falls, we started our hike back out. I soon realized we must have passed the jog that was closed – I had wanted to take a picture of it for my own WTA trip report to save someone else from our experience.

We turned around and hiked back … to the falls! We hadn’t actually passed the jog and had doubled back for no reason. Apparently we were too immersed in our conversation and not paying attention to where we were on the trail! The silver lining was that we added another mile to our hike! (Gaia put us at 5.35 miles and just under 300 feet of gain for our hike.)

We eventually did come to the split where I snapped my picture. From there it was an uneventful hike back to what had become a much busier parking area. As is often the case, this hike is best done early in the day!

Since we had some extra time on our hands, we decided to check out the nearby Mima Mounds, which we saw on our drive in.

The Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve has about two and half miles of trails through these interesting, grass-covered mounds.

Many theories exist as to what created the Mima Mounds. Everything from geologic forces to extraterrestrial have been cited to explain the strange lumps that carpet the 445-acres of this National Natural Landmark. For a short, educational visit, head to the observation deck and half mile long paved trail. This is perfect for little ones, who may be more interested in speculating what created the mound than exploring them.

Washington Trails Association

The parking areas were completely full – there was only one space left, and it was for 15-minute parking. We decided we could at least briskly walk the half mile loop trail in that time so we took it!

It was a quick circuit, but we were able to see the observation deck and walk up on a small platform that offered nice views of the surrounding area. It is pretty wild how uniform and evenly spaced the mounds are and interesting that they don’t really know why.

As you can see in the photos below, the weather was starting to turn so we wrapped up our time at the mounds and headed for home.

This was our first time anywhere near Olympia, and I look forward to visiting the city and further exploring other nearby hiking trails!

2 thoughts on “Washington Hikes: Mima Falls and Mounds

    1. Totally! The first time we drove by I was struck by the uniformity, which to your point was even more obvious from the observation platform. Looking forward to heading back that way with family when they visit.

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