"Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area" Top 5 Page for this destination Olympia Off The Beaten Path Tip by glabah
Olympia Off The Beaten Path: 15 reviews and 56 photos
Please note that this trail is closed to dogs and bikes, and the kayak launch area you may see in some of the photos is only open April 16th through August 30th.
The official address of the Woodard Bay Natural Area is in Olympia, but its actual location is approximately 5 miles north of Olympia, and located close to the community of Boston Harbor. I have put a more extensive set of tips about this location in my Boston Harbor pages, including tips about:
+ The Overlook Trail (which is accessed from the Woodard Bay Trailhead of the Chehalis Western Trail)
+ The Woodard Bay / Chapman Bay Trail between the parking area and Weyer Point
+ Weyer Point itself, at the end of the trail
+ The Chapman Bay / Woodard Bay Loop Trail through the forest on the peninsula between the two small bays. This trail is a more traditional hiking trail and is narrow and steep in places, with boardwalks and stairs.
This tip only serves as a basic introduction to this location, and more information may be found in my Boston Harbor tips:
By the 1920s, Weyerhaeuser Company had consolidated an extensive amount of timberlands in western Washington. However, one of its big mill complexes was in Everett. To get the logs from the forests to Everett, a railroad was built connecting some of the other existing lines to the edge of Woodard Bay. Here, the logs were dumped into the water and floated over to Everett for use in the mill. As much as one million board feet of timber was arriving at Woodard Bay every day during the peak of lumber operations.
By the mid-1980s, timber resources were exhausted in a number of areas and the entire nature of the business was changing. Even for massive operations like Weyerhaueser, trucking was becoming cheaper than the train and log raft operations.
At the same time, Washington Department of Ecology was looking for some land that had potential as a new type of conservation area and it was decided this would make a good location for this work to commence.
Over the years, the land has been restored to its natural state, though the old pier that supported the logging railroad log dump into Puget Sound remains - though it is inaccessible as bridges at both ends of the pier have been removed.
There is a trail approximately 3/4 of a mile (1 km) in length that runs from the parking area to the old center of operations on the peninsula along Woodard Bay. This is the old maintenance access road to the site, but is closed to auto traffic. It is paved, but due to the danger to small animals bikes are not allowed on this road. Several benches are scattered through the area, and a set of pit toilets exists near the observation area.
The end of the point between the two bays (Chapman Bay and Woodard Bay) is called Weyer Point, and features scattered benches and picnic tables, as well as a pit toilet facility.
An additional Woodard Bay / Chapman Bay Loop Trail extends into the forest, which is mostly mature second growth.
It is possible to see salt water birds of various types, as well as kingfishers and other forest birds that need to be near the water. Out on the remains of some of the log raft holding pens it is possible to see sea lions, seals and other marine mammals.
There are many interpretive signs scattered through the area, and one set is devoted to relaying the basic form of a First Nations legend about the rise and fall of the tide.
Please be aware that it is required to have a Discover Pass in order to park here. See my Washington Discover Pass for more information, and be aware that there is no facility here for buying a day pass. The nearest place you can do that is at Tolmie State Park.
For some photos of Weyer Point after the 2014 through 2015 reconstruction and redevelopment, please see my Updates to Woodard Bay Travelogue. For a few photos of wintering bird life you may see here please see my Bird Life at Woodard Bay Travelogue from December of 2013.
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