Outdoors

Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail opens this weekend

A chum salmon pokes its head out of the water as it churns the gravel to make a nest in Kennedy Creek. The Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail opens this weekend.
A chum salmon pokes its head out of the water as it churns the gravel to make a nest in Kennedy Creek. The Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail opens this weekend. Staff file, 2011

The Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail, the South Sound’s premier interpretive trail to see spawning chum salmon, opens this weekend. The 0.5-mile trail includes 11 viewing stations with interpretive signage to assist visitors viewing the thousands of wild chum salmon spawning in the creek.

The trail will be open Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 29. It also will be open Veterans Day and the Friday after Thanksgiving.

School groups can arrange field trips Mondays-Fridays through Nov. 25.

Each November, about 5,000 people walk the trail to learn more about the life cycle of salmon and to watch chum salmon make their way upstream to spawn. Volunteer docents will be stationed along the trail to answer questions.

Typically, 20,000-40,000 chum salmon return to the creek. The run has counted as high as 80,000 fish.

The trail is an education effort by the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group. The group works on habitat restoration, salmon recovery and education projects in six South Sound watersheds: Puyallup River, Nisqually River, Chambers-Clover creeks, Deschutes River, Kennedy-Goldsborough creeks and Key Peninsula streams.

Organizers have planned two special events this season:

Saturday: The trail will be transformed to Kennedy Creep Salmon Trail. A scavenger hunt will encourage exploration of the trail. Come dressed in your most creative riparian creeper, ghostly salmon slayer or haunted salmon carcass costume.

Nov. 21: From 11 a.m.-2 p.m., the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group will host a Chum, Chowder and Chocolate open house. Xihn’s Clam & Oyster House and Taylor Shellfish will provide geoduck chowder for a donation to maintain and operate the trail.

The trail is a community supported and volunteer-based program. Each year, more than 40 volunteer docents donate approximately 600 hours to working along it.

The trail has been supported by grants from the Squaxin Island Tribe and Olympia Federal Savings. Additional support is provided by landowners Taylor Shellfish Farms and Green Diamond Resources, which maintain access.

Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640

jeff.mayor@thenewstribune.com

IF YOU GO

WHEN: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends through Nov. 29. It will also be open Veterans Day (Nov. 11) and Black Friday (Nov. 27).

WHERE: The trail is 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 0.75-mile to a gravel logging road signed “Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail.” Follow the gravel road a half mile to the trail parking lot.

ADMISSION: Free.

INFORMATION: spsseg.org/kcst.

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