Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area, Olympia

(4.8/5 based on 25+ reviews on the web)
Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area is a natural reserve in Olympia, Washington protected under the Washington Natural Areas Program. Once an important processing facility for the logging industry, it has been designated as the Weyerhaeuser South Bay Log Dump Rural Historic Landscape. Today the area is a renowned sanctuary for a variety of birds, harbor seals, river otters, bald eagles, and a colony of bats, as well as serving as an important great blue heron rookery. A recent conservation program in the area between the State of Washington and the Nature Conservancy is the first of its kind in the country.HistoryAmerican Indians use of the area dates back over 5,000 years when the present coast line stabilised. Euroamerican settlement began in the 1850s with Puget Sound's logging era. Early in the history of the area, the Woodard family built the railway for hauling logs down to the waterfront. From there they would load it on ships at the end of the peninsula.In the 1920s the site was bought by the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company, which brought up to 1 million board feet of timber here annually by rail from all over Thurston and Lewis counties until it closed the site in 1984. A former logging railroad crosses Woodard Bay on a wooden trestle and a narrow peninsula. It runs out onto a pier in Henderson Inlet across the mouth of Chapman Bay. Here logs were dumped in the water, gathered into rafts and floated to mills in Everett, Washington.
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  • The sign in the parking lot had a map and brief description of the area and trails. I hiked the 1.5 mile forest loop trail that consist of boardwalks, stairs, and ground. It is well maintained. Lookin...  more »
  • This has to be one of the best short walks in the south sound region. There is a small parking lot for vehicles. There is a spot to launch kayaks which is open seasonally and a covered area for parkin...  more »
  • We love walking here, there is a trail to the water, or you can take the direct route. One big warning: thieves have also discovered Woodard Bay, and cars are being broken into.