With amenities aplenty, Squaxin Park (formerly Priest Point Park) serves a wide community of users. The area — originally Native land that was turned into a mission, then a park — was renamed to acknowledge the indigenous people who were on the land before settlers.
The park is a beautiful greenspace. Take a picnic and explore its many nature trails, let your kids play on the playground, or simply relax and enjoy the surroundings. The park is an excellent place for birdwatching, hiking and wildlife-spotting. A steep trail heads down to the beach, which is a fascinating place to play at low tide.
Beginning at the parking area east of the road, head into the cool forest just behind the maintenance facility. The wide path here means visitors can walk two abreast. At the first intersection, take the right-hand trail, then continue on the main trail, through a large intersection and bearing left at the first large fork. Stay left at the next intersection and at the following one, take the right-hand trail to begin looping back. Stay right, then make a left to close the loop and cross the street to the west side of the park.
This side of the park houses the Ellis Cove trail. Follow it through more beautiful forest on a very structure-heavy trail, with peeking views of Ellis Cove. Shorebirds, including great blue herons, frequent this area.
Stay high on the trail through vibrant green forest, carpeted with mosses, ferns, and other understory before descending to the pebbly beach. Views of the Capitol Building and downtown Olympia are visible here, and to the west on clear days the Olympic mountains rise up beyond the opposite shore.
On your return trip, hike south along the beach and around the point, looking for the route up from the beach that connects back to Ellis Cove Trail. From here, retrace your steps up to the parking area and across the street to your car.
WTA Pro Tip: This is a high car prowl area. Be sure to not leave any valuables in your car during your visit.