Seminary Hill Natural Area
HIKE DESCRIPTION: Seminary Hill Natural Area, on the eastern edge of Centralia, is an easily accessed 72-acre refuge filled with short trails, lush green foliage and singing birds.
The collection of trail segments allows visitors to get creative, linking them in whatever fashion they choose for a hike of a mile or longer. Getting lost is quite challenging even if the trail map looks a bit like a maze.
The hill is named for a Baptist seminary that stood on the hill before burning nearly 80 years ago. Today the hill is a good place to commune with nature. Owls, ravens and sparrows are among the dozens of types of birds that have been spotted in the area. On quiet mornings, visitors might also encounter deer or other wildlife.
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Be careful of slippery conditions on rainy days. Avoid unofficial “social trails” to minimize impact on the area.
DIRECTIONS: From Interstate 5 in Centralia, take Exit 82 and drive southeast on Harrison Avenue. Continue east as the road turns left and becomes Main Street, which ends at Berry Street. Turn right, then left on Locust Street. The trailhead parking area is well-marked and on your right.
DIFFICULTY RATING: 2 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
MILES ROUND TRIP: 2.25 miles of trails with various route options. Exploring them all requires more mileage as some sections must be covered more than once.
ELEVATION GAIN: 300 feet or more depending on route.
BEST TIME OF THE YEAR: Year-round.
MAP: Available for download at cityofcentralia.com. Also, a map is posted on the kiosk at the trailhead. Snap a picture so you can reference it during your hike.
ALSO: The trails are maintained by volunteers from the Friends of Seminary Hill, who also helped expand the natural area in the 1980s. Last year, the group published a guide to birds most frequently seen in the area. The eight-page guide, compiled by Henry and Leah Wegener, can be downloaded via the Friends of Seminary Hill page on the city of Centralia website. Bikes and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trails. Signs also warn that alcohol and littering are prohibited, and the area is a “Tobacco Free Trail.” Pets are welcome, and plastic bags are available at the trailhead for cleaning up after the animals. The park is open 8 a.m.-dusk. Several geocaches are hidden along the trails. For more information, visit geocaching.com.
Visit thenewstribune.com/outdoors for information on more hikes and video from several trails.