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A Stroll Through Tumwater Falls

Along the falls of the Deschutes River in 1962, the Olympia Tumwater Foundation (OTF) constructed a 15-acre park. The estate is rich in vegetation, trees, birds, bugs, and falls.






Located in the picturesque, historic city of Tumwater, Washington, the Deschutes River ends its 50-mile journey with an 82-feet tumble into Capitol Lake. French fur traders called the river Rivière des Chutes, or “River of the Falls.”









A wide variety of native trees and shrubs track both sides of the river as it dives and eddies through a gulch of stone rapids and vast pools. In many areas, the tree’s canopy offers a shaded refuge on a hot day.






Cascading waterfalls, reflective pools, and immense boulders emphasize one-half mile walking trails. Straddling the river at both ends of the gulch and connecting the web of trails are foot bridges that complement the viewpoints from both ends of the park.










Tumwater Falls attracts folks from all ages—even young boys—as two of us grandmothers found out and holds one’s attention for hours. Our grandsons climbed, explored, laughed, and learned for one afternoon of July fun.




From the mounds of falls at the head to bridges and falls on the heels of the park drew interest in flowers, bugs, worms, hidden paths, and dirty faces and legs.





One of the heartwarming discoveries was a fence coated with locks. Some fancy, most plain. Some with names and hearts and others left anonymously. Either way, the site overlooked the falls and I can only imagine a couple clicking the lock closed and overlooking the falls as they embrace. I may be a hopeless romantic, but that’s what I’d do if my hubby and I were there, lock in hand.









Smiles, laughter, and photographic opportunities captured the hearts of two middle-aged ladies and three rambunctious boys.








The Tumwater Falls blocked salmon until 1952 when the Washington Department of Fisheries (now the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife) built a fish ladder to provide local native fish including salmon access to the newly constructed fish hatchery located at the top of the falls.





The hatchery was dry and closed when we came through. I’m sure come spring it will be full of brood stock and their fries for school children to enjoy.

Fishing Weir













Summer park hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. A perfect place for picnics, photographs, weddings and simple strolls. And rambunctious children who love to learn and explore.







What park or place have you visited this summer that has left an unforgettable impression?

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  1. Betty Bauer says:

    You are giving your grandsons great experiences; and I can just imagine whiling away the hours watching them explore and enjoy. That’s love!

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Betty, They had so much fun! They buzzed from one thing to another and never got bored, just hungry! It was so much fun.

  2. I’ll wager those boys had no time for the romance of the lock fence. But I bet they slept well that night – nothing like Mother Nature and lots of fresh air to wear out even the most boisterous child. What a happy Grandma experience.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Judith, they did think the locks were “cool!” But that is it. From a handyman’s perspective, I suppose. And yes, they slept well. I was glad both of us grandmothers could spend time with our boys.

  3. A lovely article, Carmen, about a terrific place. You describe it well. Thank you for the nice blog.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      I am glad you enjoyed it, Mary! It is a beautiful place to visit, even more than once!