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Millersylvania Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Deep Lake shore, Millersylvania State Park (bobcat)
CCC bathhouse, Millersylvania State Park (bobcat)
White alders on Deep Lake, Millersylvania State Park (bobcat)
Old growth on the service road, Millersylvania State Park (bobcat)
The loop around Millersylvania State Park traced in yellow (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Millersylvania TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Spruce Creek Bridge
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loops
  • Distance: 3.9 miles
  • High point: 305 feet
  • Elevation gain: 180 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Year round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Day-use area is very popular on summer weekends

Contents

Hike Description

A few miles south of Washington's state capital of Olympia, Millersylvania State Park comprises about 840 acres of forest, wetland, and lake shore donated by the Mueller (Miller) family in 1921. This is a popular day use and overnight camping spot that still hosts several iconic stone structures from the days of the park's development by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935. The park extends north from Deep Lake and comprises a wetland populated by beavers and both secondary and old growth forest. The trail network is somewhat convoluted, but you can fashion a loop around the property that takes in the salient natural features.

The exit for Millersylvania is the same as for Mima Mounds, which is on the west side of I-5. Both are excellent stopovers on a trip north to the Seattle area: Mima Mounds is best visited in the spring, while Millersylvania State Park is at its most quiet from mid-fall to mid-spring.

At the parking area, the information sign here has photos from the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) era during the Great Depression. Hike into the woods to the right of the parking area and proceed under tall conifers along the lakeshore. Deep Lake is a natural lake, one of a few in the area. Pass a CCC-built restroom and group picnic area. Douglas-firs and cedars form the canopy, while salal and Oregon grape are the prime understory plants. Stone steps lead down to the lake in places. Reach the first swimming beach and its CCC bathhouse. Continue walking under tall trees again, and reach the second swimming beach. After this, you'll come to the boat launch area, with a dock leading out into the lake and a guest cottage on the other side of a large parking lot. Turn inland along the parking area. At its end, pick up a boardwalk leading left through a white alder, willow, red osier dogwood swampland. Keep straight along the boardwalk, which could be underwater because of beaver activity, until you reach a lush woodland. The trail rises to a junction. On the left, just before the junction, is the park’s oldest tree, a snapped-off Douglas-fir.

From the junction, you can go left and uphill through mossy woods on an old road bed. You can take another left at a junction to go downhill and begin a loop. The predominant trees are big-leaf maple, Douglas-fir, western red-cedar, alder, yew, and a few western hemlocks. A trail leads down to the left to a campground host’s trailer and the Environmental Learning Center. The path heads along on the level and another spur to the left leads to the ELC, which is a place park staff don’t want you to visit unless you’re staying there. Then, the tread loops around uphill and passes along a low ridgeline and down to the loop junction. Continuing straight here, one passes the trail leading down to the old Douglas-fir and the boardwalk on the right. The trail drops gently on an old road bed. At a junction, keep left in secondary forest. Now you are on the service road. Another trail leads right to the campground. Then you'll see a trail going left for a loop through the northern part of the park. Keep to the service road and enter the wetland. You'll see a beaver dam right next to the road. Then, cross the Spruce Creek Bridge, and reenter old forest again. There are more trails leading off to the left and right. Finally, as you make out Highway 121 ahead, reach the junction with the Fitness Trail on the right.

Heading down the Fitness Trail, with Highway 121 on the left, walk along the verge of an old apple orchard. Go through a split-rail fence and cross an access road. The path winds gently downward in secondary Douglas-fir forest. Then the trail levels but soon drops into an old ditch. Follow the ditch down to the park entrance and parking area.


Maps

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • $10 day-use pass or annual Discover Pass required
  • Park open 6:30 a.m. to dusk in summer; 8:00 a.m. to dusk in winter
  • Dogs on leash
  • Restrooms, picnic area, campground, swimming area, boat launch, information kiosk

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Washington State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Marge & Ted Mueller

More Links


Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.