It’s the month we’ve been waiting for all year. We’re well into summer and back to school season remains a distant thought, at least three weeks away for most. Time to check your summer bucket list to ensure every ounce of quintessential pacific northwest summer fun is squeezed into this singular season. It’s not time to mess around, let’s savor summer in the state’s capitol region with some expert recommendations.

First up in our summer bucket list series? Local recommendations for thrill seekers. Maybe you’re a weekend warrior who has explored the Mima Mounds or made your way along the McLane Creek Nature Trail, two popular and accessible outdoor adventures. Capitol Forest offers incredible views and easy access from town. But how to choose from more than 1,000 miles of trails? Here are two decidedly different options recommended by Philip Wolff, Recreation Manager of Capitol Forest.

  • Popular with in-the-know mountain bikers, trail runners and equestrians, the Wedekind Trail winds through scenic second and third-growth forests. Begin at the Fall Creek trailhead and head up the pass and continue past the intersection with Green Line tie, enter a burn area of a few years ago and view the old railroad grade cut. Continue on the trail and look for parts of an old railroad trestle on your left until arriving at the Wedekind Camp. Turn around here and head back to Fall Creek, for a 6-mile round trip adventure. This journey has sweeping forest views that will make you feel one with nature.


  • For something truly brag-worthy, join local mountain and dirt-bikers on the Al Davis Trail. Start at the Middle Waddell trailhead and take Waddell Basin East to the Al Davis trail. From there, take a right on the D-4000 and travel down this to the Waddell Basin West trail, which will be on the right (if you reach the C-line Road you have gone too far). Make your way to the top of Mount Molly where there are gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier and Mount St. Helens on a clear day.


Philip also encourages adventurers to pack a Discover Pass, lots of water and download the Capitol Forest mobile map from this link Printed maps are available for $9 online or in person, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., from the Washington State Department of Printing, (7580 New Market Street St. SW, in Tumwater), or at bike and outdoor retailers in town.  A comprehensive collection of area guides and maps can be found at the Experience Olympia & Beyond Visitor Center at 103 Sid Snyder Ave SW. Make sure to share your adventures with us by tagging social posts #DecidedlyDifferent and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter (@Experience_Oly) and Instagram (@ExperienceOly).


Mark Your Calendars


Rainier Round-Up Days, Aug. 25-27

Experience the magic of small-town charm in one of the region’s one-of-a-kind communities. Come early for the Saturday morning parade, and then enjoy live bluegrass music as you wander through local vendors and discover hidden treats and treasures.

Rainier Round-Up Days


Love Our Local Fest, Aug. 27

Community comes together in this fun and creative outdoor party! Discover local artisans while you peruse the market, or participate in some arts and crafts activities while listening to live music. This unique event will show you why we love our locals, and we know you will too. Photo courtesy of Love Our Local Fest.

Love Our Local Fest


Olympia Harbor Days and Tug Boat Races, Sept. 1-3, 2017

This annual Labor Day weekend festival held at Percival Landing in downtown Olympia welcomes a fleet of tugboats both old and new for three days of entertainment, food, art, history, and a last farewell to the summer. Explore more than 125 arts and crafts booths, try a variety of food and see as many as 30 tugboats—many open for tours. Be on hand Sunday at noon as the tugs leave shore to participate in the Annual Harbor Days Tugboat Races in the deep channel of the bay. Photo by Doug Walker Photography.

Olympia Harbor Days

Sip, Savor and Stroll Downtown Olympia, Sept. 9, 2017

Come celebrate food, libations and history that makes downtown unique. Sip craft cocktails and brews, local wines and bites from local chefs while learning about the history of local buildings and businesses. The fun kicks off with a cocktail reception followed by a seated dinner at local venues. Don’t miss the after party for more drinks and live auction fun. Tickets are $125 per person.

Sip Savor & Stroll