There are few smells that rival that of Thanksgiving dinner, but there’s one that’s bound to be just as appealing to walkers, runners and cyclists: new trail smell.
Want to get a whiff?
Stand on the bridges crossing the Mashel and Little Mashel rivers in Eatonville and breathe it in. That smell of freshly cut lumber is courtesy of the two new bridges recently installed on the Bud Blancher Trail.
No longer is the trail split into sections too short to warrant a visit. Now the trail is a 2-mile crushed-rock path ideal for working up an appetite for that turkey dinner. Or for burning off the excess calories inevitably consumed during the holiday feast.
The South Sound has several other options for accomplishing this task — trails close to town and ideal for quick workouts. There are the old standbys such as Capitol State Forest, Fort Steilacoom, Point Defiance and the growing network of paved multiuse trails.
But we’ve got five other recommendations for you. Let’s start with the new one:
BUD BLANCHER TRAIL
While the crushed-rock trail technically is complete only to the west side of the Little Mashel River, a dirt road immediately picks up where the trail ends and leads bikers, walkers and hikers to Pack Forest and its web of trails and unpaved roads.
In other words, if a mostly flat trail winding through the trees and over rivers seems too easy, you can keep going all day. Hop on a bike at the Lynch Creek Road trailhead in Eatonville, and 6.9-miles and 1,000 vertical feet later you’ll be signing the summit register on Hugo Peak.
Check out the trail and road map on the Pack Forest website before you go. It can be an easy place to get lost and not all trails are open to bikes. Also, wear bright colors in the forest to be visible. Hunting is allowed in parts of the forest Fridays-Sundays.
BURFOOT COUNTY PARK
There are shelters and benches along the paths, boardwalks, an open area and playground for turning the kids loose, and interpretive signage.
But the highlight is arguably the 1,100-foot beach on Budd Inlet, where you can enjoy the view of Olympia and the Capitol building.
WILLIAM IVES TRAIL
G ETTING THERE: From Interstate 5 in Lacey, take Exit 111 and turn north on Marvin Road. After 0.2 miles, turn right on Hogum Bay Road then right on Willamette Drive. After 1.5 miles turn right on Campus Glen Drive and park at Meridian Neighborhood Park. To find the trailhead, cross Campus Glen Drive and turn right on the sidewalk. Walk about 500 feet and find the trail on your left.
The trail offers occasional fairway views, but the trees are thick enough to protect you from most errant golf shots. Use the crosswalk once you reach Campus Park Drive toward the east end of the trail and continue to a large storm pond. From the right angle, you could probably snap a selfie that makes it look as if you ventured someplace a little wilder than Lacey’s north side.
The trail, dedicated in 2008, is named for the surveyor credited with extending the Willamette Meridian (the principle line for land surveying in Washington) from Portland to Puget Sound in 1851.
McCORMICK FOREST PARK
The network of trails — each of the 26 intersections is marked with a letter — can be a bit confusing at first, but small maps are posted on many trail markers. A map can also be downloaded at penmetparks.org.
Parts of the trails also are open to bikes and horses.
The highlight of the forest is arguably the paths that run through the McCormick Creek drainage and its many shades of green. This section is closed to bikes and horses.
But you’re bound to get a few reminders. On a recent visit with friends, we saw a couple walking their cat. Now, there’s something you aren’t likely to see on the Pacific Crest Trail. The silence was also sometimes interrupted by the clamor of nearby construction work.
Starting at the Pioneer Way trailhead, the walk up the canyon is about 2.2 miles. You can return on the Canyon Rim Trail, but, as my hiking partners quickly observed, it is significantly less scenic and, on windy days, much less protected. The upper park offers more hiking options including a grid of old paved roads.
The canyon and rim trails are closed to cyclists, but a mountain bike trails system sits at the south end of the trail. The bike park opened earlier this year and volunteers are already looking to add new trails. The bike park can be accessed at East 56th Street east of Portland Avenue and East T Street near Lister Elementary School.