Adventure Log: Lake Sylvia

March 30, 2023
4.8 miles

I had one available adventure day last week. It wasn’t the single day predicted to be sun-drenched. The weather looked miserable at Mt. St. Helens. Sun was forecast on the Olympic Peninsula, but trails I’ve hiked in the first months of the year in the past are inaccessible this year due to snow. I was determined to go somewhere.

I decide on Lake Sylvia State Park, a five mile hike around a small lake, creek, wetland an hour from home. No sun, but not raining. I walked half the hike—around the lake and wetland—four years ago; this time I plan to do the creek end as well.

The drive is just long enough to finish off my sixteen-ounce latte. As I pull into the parking lot, I remember I’ve forgotten to check the status of my Discover Pass; I’m pretty sure it’s the end of March though. When I pull it out of the glove box, I discover it expired twenty months ago. Apparently I didn’t get a new one last year, because I didn’t get it the year before until July, rather than the usual March. Covid strikes again, messing with my scheduling—and my remembering. I hang it on the mirror, doubting it will be checked at all, but hopefully at least not too closely.

The trillium are emerging! My adventure log from four years and one week ago reminds me they were not up then. Like in my woods at home, a few are open, but most are tight in the bud. A friend told me this state park is known as something of a “trillium capitol,” and local fans do an annual count. Had I remembered that, maybe I would have counted. I would have lost track though. And I expect they are still emerging.


The skunk cabbage has busted out, the ducks are fishing, and the geese are . . .

. . . well, the geese are mating—and it is quite the ballet.

The crowing begins at moment of mount. Him, I imagine. She, I imagine, is rolling her eyes.

He is quite the proud male, heels over head proud. She’s moved on.


This park is surely hopping in the summer, but today—other than fishermen at the lake—I see four people and one dog on the wetland end of the trail, and none on the creek end.

Past the campground, the swimming hole, and the playground, the trail leaves state park property and winds along Sylvia Creek on the Forestry Trail, a very different forest with interpretive signs of the logging operation there that ended in 1930.

I wend through the ghosts of the giant felled old growth conifers and imagine the men who did the low-paying dangerous work at the beginning of the twentieth century, often separated from family for months at a time. (Currently, logging is ranked the most dangerous job in America. It must have been so much worse then.) 

Springboard slots
and springboards from my father’s historic forestry collection.

I pass the site of the former mill and bunkhouse, and—stunningly—the remains of a railroad trestle. 

There are even more trillium on this trail than on the lake trail. Signage says annual counts by local enthusiasts exceed fifteen hundred!

Nailed it.

And this, regarding the dam that was built and provided hydroelectric power for the town of Montesano: “The Wilder family lived above the generator room for many years. Silas’s wife, Elsie, in addition to raising fourteen children, was the only woman to operate a power plant in the United States in the 1920s, or possibly since that time.”

It’s hard to imagine homesteaders, an active logging operation, sawmill, and railroad in these peaceful woods now. I hear frogs in the wetlands and a grouse on the Forestry trails. It’s quieter than my woods, with nearby roads and trains. Come summer there will be campers and children and motorless boaters, but I’m making a note to return next year in early April—the trillium should be in all-out splendor. And, who knows, I may leave my yard work and return some sunny day in the next couple of weeks to hug the sunlight. Spring is springing. (Though there was sleet and hail yesterday.)

A Walk in the Woods, a Photo a Day—Week 2

11 thoughts on “Adventure Log: Lake Sylvia

  1. I’ve been that park a few times but never really “hiked” any trail. It looks like it may be worth another visit as that general area is back on my spring radar. Those geese are fabulous! Nice camera work too! I watched that ritual recently also. Same bluster, same dance … a lovely ritual of spring. You are a trillium magnet this year, gravitating toward the sweet little buds and flowers. And still, I am awaiting my first. Soon! 

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is worth it! Especially now, sans people. I looked for red-winged blackbirds in the cattails, trying to channel my inner Bonnie Rae. I bet you would have found them. I saw several kinds of ducks, but the photos were crap.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I laughed out loud about the geese. It’s always so obvious that the female just endures – and the male thinks he’s done something no one else has ever done. Why is he so proud of himself?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Such a lovely post to follow up your walk. The splendors of the PNW never fail to amaze, and I’m grateful to be able to tag along virtually. I also found myself laughing in agreement about the geese.

    Liked by 1 person

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