Visiting Nolte & Kanaskat-Palmer State Parks
Scouting Out our Future Explorations
This past week has been pretty cold here in the Pacific Northwest. With the temperatures in the 40s most of the days, and at times below freezing, we weren’t much motivated to get any real hiking done. Well, that, and it’s also been rainy. Instead, what we did manage to do was go out and explore two nearby state parks that we’ve had on our list for some time now.
While heading west on State Route 410 — during all those times we were returning from Mt. Rainier National Park — we had noticed the sign for Nolte and Kanaskat-Palmer State Parks. The turn off for them is at Farman St N., which is on the far east side of the city of Enumclaw here in Washington. We finally decided to drive that way and check the two out.
Nolte State Park
...and Deep Lake
This 117-acre day-use park was donated to the state in the 1970s by Minnie Nolte. It’s situated around Deep Lake and provides a 1.4 mile hiking/biking trail that circles the water. Other attractions include a beach, fishing opportunities, non-motorized boating, a children’s playground, and more. The temperature was in the mid-30s when we visited and surprisingly a good number of people were here, some even knee-deep in the water fishing.
Immediately we noticed the quiet lake and the amazing reflections of the surrounding woodlands. We walked the 1.4 mile trail around the lake. The ground was covered in frost, the air was crisp and cold, and there was a bit of noise from the nearby road.
As we made our way around the beach the trail began to distance itself from the road and everything became quite quiet.
There were various side trails along the way that led to the shore. We took one of the first ones we came across. It provided a view across the lake towards the beach and the picnic area. We noticed fisherman in the other direction.
As we continued on we were presented with a bridge and its railings covered in frost. Below was the flowing water of Deep Creek. We took a few photos before proceeding.
About a 1/4 of a mile before the end of the trail there was another side trail, this time heading opposite of the lake and into the forest. We opted to skip it. As we approached our starting point we saw yet another side trail, we assumed it was the other end of what we had just passed. Turns out that assumption was right. We later found out this was an interpretive trail.
Once back at the main park area we used the restrooms and then walked out to the park entrance to get a photo of the two of us next to the welcoming sign. This is something we do at every state park we visit :-)
From there we walked back to the parking lot and drove another 4 miles down the road to the next park.
Kanaskat-Palmer State Park
…and Green River
This 320-acre park runs two miles along the south bank of the Green River and includes activities such as fishing, white-water rafting, group picnicking, horseshoe pits, a 50-site campground, hiking trails, and more. The area around this park has been rich in mining over the years and is still mined for coal to this day.
Upon entering the park we pulled off the side of the road and walked out to the welcoming sign to get our picture. The entrance shack was not staffed and we drove on through with our Discover Pass hanging from the rear-view mirror.
We parked at the upper boat launch site. This is a class III and class IV rated white water area — warning signs indicate that this spot is for “expert boaters only.” We’re no boaters so we proceeded on foot to the river.
A very short trail led us through a group picnic area which had two fire rings, picnic tables, and shelter. This looked like an excellent spot to bring some friends at some later date.
Once we reached the river we were greeted with various cairns spread out through this area. Someone had been here recently.
The shore was rocky with a few small trees on the edge of it and the water. The water was remarkable with varying hues of blues and greens. There were some smaller rapids here. We walked about, took photos, then headed back.
Next we drove through the campsite. The sites were mixed between basic and premium tent sites, RV sites, and yurts. All looked in good condition and there were a handful of campers already setup for the night.
Throughout various parts of this park we noticed signs for River Trail. Although we saved this hike for a another day, it’s a 2.5 mile loop trail that runs along the river then circles around the rest of the park. It’s rated as easy with an elevation gain of 175 feet.
That was it for this visit. We noted all there is to do here and plan to visit again.
Scouting out future group and camping spots
Due to the rainy weather this was a good time to scout out our future activities rather than hiking and getting wet.
Nolte has a great day-use area with group picnic shelters, a lake, and interpretive/regular trails. Great for a day out when you need some fresh air and just a bit of exercise or just wet a hook.
Kanaskat-Palmer looks like a nice place to camp when you don’t have time to travel too far from home. With 6 yurts available this place is open year round. The group picnic area with its shelter and two fire rings is an excellent spot to hang with friends.
On the way back we stopped off at the National Forest Visitor Center in Enumclaw. On a clear day you have a great view of Mt. Rainier in the distance with Pinnacle Peak nearby. There’s also a log on display which started its life in the 1300s!
Helpful Links for Exploring These Parks
Use these while planning
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The only thing better would be being there yourself!
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