The days are shorter and the nights are cooler, a sure sign fall as arrived. Another sign is the annual return of salmon to the waters of their birth.
Whether you want to go out on your own or take part in a more organized event, there are multiple opportunities in and near the South Sound to see salmon making their way upstream to spawn.
Here is a look at some of the options, with some viewing opportunities taking place now, with others occurring later in the fall:
Cedar River Salmon Journey
Trained volunteer naturalists will be stationed at three locations along the river in the Renton area. The volunteers will be on hand eight days in October at the Renton Library, Cedar River Park, Cavanaugh Pond, and Landsburg Park and Dam.
Each location offers a different view as well as examples of the challenges facing the salmon. At the library, visitors stand directly above the salmon and can see the many human changes to the Cedar River. At Cedar River Park, you can see the fish weir and learn how it is used. At Cavanaugh Pond, visitors can take a 20-minute tour along the river to view salmon and learn about native plants and habitat restoration. At Landsburg, learn about Seattle’s water supply and watch how some salmon are allowed to pass into the municipal Cedar River Watershed.
Volunteers will be along the river from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23.
Self-guided tours of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery are allowed daily through November. You also can take a drop-in tour at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 20.
Visitors can watch salmon return to the hatchery from a bridge or through viewing windows. Trained docents from Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery lead the drop-in tours.
The hatchery is at 125 W. Sunset Way, Issaquah.
Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail
Located between Olympia and Shelton, the trail is open weekends in November, as well as on Veterans Day and the Friday after Thanksgiving. There are 11 viewing stations with interpretive signs along the half-mile trail, giving visitors a look at some of the 20,000-40,000 chum salmon that spawn in this natural environment.
McLane Creek Nature Trail
This is another good late-fall option, as the chum salmon make their way upstream in this Olympia-area creek. Salmon stewards trained by the Stream Team in Thurston County will be stationed along the creek weekends in November and December. A Discover Pass is required to park at the trail.
South Prairie Creek
This creek is a major spawning tributary of the Puyallup River, with chinook, coho and chum, as well as steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout utilizing the stream. The best way to get close to the stream is to walk or bike along the Foothills Trail from South Prairie.
Swan Creek Park
This park on Tacoma’s eastern edge sees a return of chum salmon in the late fall. On Dec. 10, the park will host Salmon Saturday, an opportunity to see salmon in the stream and learn about their life cycle.
Tumwater Falls Park
There are several places to see returning salmon in this Tumwater park. The fish can be seen while walking along the Deschutes River trail through mid-October, including salmon spawning in the gravel below the lower falls.
You also can watch the fish spawning operation Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings through early October.
Stream Team Salmon Stewards are stationed at the Fifth Avenue Dam and Tumwater Falls Park on weeknights and weekends, and during the morning spawning operation at Tumwater Falls Park.
There also will be the Salmon and Cider event from noon-4 p.m. Oct. 2.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640