Steam Donkey Trail in Dosewallips State Park is one that I’ve been looking at for much of the winter, simply because of its low elevation. We kept putting it off because reviews made it seem a little basic. I do suspect that it is not nearly as much fun in the summer. It starts right out of the campground and it’s pretty easy, so I bet it’s packed with people and dogs all summer long. On a sunny day in February, however, it was just delightful. We only ran into two other groups–one a group of friendly twenty-somethings; another, two older guys with a pack of rather vicious sounding tiny dogs.
The trail has quite a bit of debris from recent bad weather, but most of it is smaller branches and such. It’s also pretty wet still. My guess is that during rainy spells, the trail itself becomes one of the many creeks in the area. We wore hiking boots and stayed perfectly dry, but I wouldn’t wear tennis shoes at this time of year! The water features were the highlight for us. Lots of creeks, the sound of water everywhere, glimpses of the river toward the end (the Maple Valley Trail side), and some lovely little waterfalls. Phantom Creek, which you cross twice if you do both trails, is gorgeous right now. Not sure what it will look like by the end of the summer.
For a complete change of scenery, you can hop over Highway 101 to the Canal side and catch the beach life (though it’s not a sandy beach). You can hike out quite aways at low tide, but probably not so much when the tide comes in! It’s interesting, but I would save it for after the main hike. We did see several sea lions and tons of birds. This is also where our boots got wet–with lovely (not!) sea-smelling mud from the tide flats. The boots are now hanging out in the garage for awhile!
Since we had some time left, we decided to head up river to the Dosewallips Rec Area. We haven’t been there in years, long before the road washout. We had no intention of hiking up there so late in the day, but we did want to check out the parking situation for later in the year. Even at this early date, there were five other vehicles at the end, and not a whole lot of room. Again, it could get pretty crowded on the summer weekends. Also, please note that it is still definitely winter up there! Snow on the road for the last mile or so. There have been lots of people up that way so it wasn’t too bad, but we did put the Explorer in 4-wheel drive just in case. We saw a small herd of elk in a pasture on the way up.
All in all, a very good day, especially with a stop at the Hama Hama Seafood Company Oyster Bar on the way home!