It’s not often that trail trackers find a secluded hike near dense urban areas. In fact, finding one that’s well managed, rooted, clean and sleek right off Interstate 5 can be somewhat of a rarity.
But the Sequalitchew Creek trail, located just off campus of the DuPont Police Department, is quite the exception. With tall, tranquil trees guiding you down to a small, abandoned dock, this trail is another scenic Pacific Northwest getaway.
A short 30-minute drive from Yelm, this gem is beloved by many locals as a quick and easy getaway from the 9 to 5 hustle. With an elevation incline of only 160 feet on the trail, it’s accessible to most day hikers and families looking for a quick expedition.
This hike was personally recommended to me by none other than Ed Kenney, a well-known local environmentalist and mountaineering professional. During a quick stop by the Nisqually Valley News office in May, Kenney told me he had just returned from this great hike.
“You have to go,” he told me. And so, after misplacing the sticky note that I had written its name on for nearly two months, I was finally able to plan a quick trek out.
The drive out to DuPont is fairly cut and dry — from Yelm, take Reservation Road out to Interstate 5 and head north for three-fourths of a mile. Take Exit 118 and head toward Civic Drive. The trailhead can be found near the parking lot of the police department. No parking fee or pass is needed.
I decided to start my hiking on a Monday afternoon — what better time to take a quick 3-mile round-trip hike than at the beginning of the work week? At the trailhead, hikers will find some small informative plaques and a few picnic tables. Here you’ll be able to learn about the creek and the Nisqually people’s history on the land, which has seen a great deal of economic turnover and ownership. You’ll also find tips on conservation efforts and learn a little about the local flora, which includes the licorice fern and Oregon grape.
Make your way past the metal city gate, and you’re ready for prime time. With that, I was on my way by 8 p.m. — almost an hour before last light. Note the trailhead’s close proximity to a residential zoning. That noise will be a thing of the past as you sink into the forest leading you down to the quarry.
The first 1,000 feet will be gravel, but the trail will smooth out into pavement for a quarter of a mile. Soon after, you’ll start to hear the flow of Sequalitchew Creek and the chirping of the birds in the canopies above.
As the shrubbery thickens, the trail will take a noticeable decline. It’s at this point the trail can become a tad treacherous and murky, even on drier days. It’s not something most hikers will notice, but it’s something to take note of.
By nearly a mile in, you’ll start to see peeks of the small estuary surrounding the quarry. Before you get the shoreline, hikers will also have to pass underneath a train underpass — sounds of the train can be heard from about a half-mile out.
The estuary to the left does provide delicate wildlife viewing opportunities to those in search of them. Small deer, great horned owls, bald eagles and pileated woodpeckers are just some of the animals that can be seen. Coming up on sunset, I regrettably didn’t have the time to stop and look for animals.
The underpass opens up into a small, abandoned quarry and beach — a perfect midpoint stop. Walk along the abandoned rails to the right for a few hundred feet and watch them drop off right into the sea. On a clear, sunny day the beach provides an excellent vantage for view of Anderson Island and small glimpses of the Olympic Mountain Range.
Eric Rosane is a reporter with Nisqually Valley News and a local hiking enthusiast. For story ideas on hikes off the beaten path, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the trail
Name: Sequalitchew Creek Trail
Location: Take Exit 118 off Interstate 5 toward DuPont. Head toward the Dupont City Hall, where the trailhead and parking can be found.
Distance from Yelm: 30 Minutes
Hike Difficulty: Easy, 160-foot incline
Hike Length: 3 Miles
Driving Conditions: Superb
Trail Congestion: Medium
Parking Pass/Fee: None
Pets Allowed: Yes