One of the best opportunities to see chum salmon returning to their spawning grounds will open Saturday.
The Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail, between Olympia and Shelton, will be open weekends in November, allowing visitors to see some of the thousands of chum salmon spawn in a natural environment. Each year more than 5,000 people visit the trail to learn about the salmon life cycle.
About 20,000 to 40,000 fish return to the creek to spawn every year. Some years, the return has been as high as 80,000. The spawning adults can produce 30 million to 60 million eggs annually. But on average, for every pair of spawning chum, only two to three fish will complete their natural life cycle and return to the stream.
There are 11 viewing stations overlooking the creek that provide the opportunity to view the salmon. The stations along the half-mile trail also provide different learning opportunities such as the importance of large woody debris and salmon carcasses to the ecological balance of a stream. An underwater fish camera, operated by volunteer trail guides, will offer a rare close-up view of the salmon in the creek. The guides also are on hand to answer any questions.
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, from Saturday-Nov. 25. The trail also will be open Nov. 12 for Veterans Day and Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving.
Open house: The first Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail open house will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 17. There will be chowder, coffee, and hot cocoa available for a donation. All proceeds will directly support the trail.
Dog policy: Due to concerns over Salmon Poisoning Disease, no dogs are allowed at the trail. The disease is a potentially fatal condition in dogs that eat certain types of raw fish, including salmon.
Getting there: The trail is located off U.S. Highway 101 halfway between Olympia and Shelton. Southbound from Shelton, turn west on Old Olympic Highway at Milepost 356. Northbound from Olympia, turn west on Old Olympic Highway between milepost 358 and 357. Go 3/4-mile to a gravel logging road signed “Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail.” Follow the gravel road half a mile to the Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail parking lot.
Cost: Free. But donations are accepted. A $7 donation will support two student visits.
Group tours: Weekday visits for schools and other organized groups are available by reservation only. For more information or reservations, contact Katie Fulkerson at the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group at 509-630-6177 or Katief@spsseg.org.
Supporters: The trail is supported by the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group, Taylor Shellfish and Mason Conservation District. Taylor Shellfish owns the trail property and has committed to a 20-year lease with SPSSEG.
Information: Go to spsseg.org/kennedy-creek-salmon-trail or 360-412-0808, Ext. 101.