School's almost out for the summer. It's just about time to celebrate.
This edition of the DLC Blog is for everyone out there with families. It doesn't matter whether you have one kid, two, three, or even ten; whether they're just taking their first steps or ready to take flight into the the world, or whether they like hiking or prefer to explore on two wheels. We've got some Family Adventure ideas for you this summer.
Let's take a look!
The four corners of Lewis County are full of scenery, beauty and history. In the west, see and explore a variety of farms that provide produce, fruit and so much more. In the south, explore the historic Cowlitz Trail that brought pioneers through our area. In the north, get out of the car and take a walking tour of historic sections of Centralia and Chehalis. And finally, in the east, the mountains beckon with majestic views, waterfalls, endless forests and more.
Point the car toward Rainbow Falls State Park and make camp there, then hop back in for the West County Quick Trip, a journey through several rural communities that passes through farms, forests and more. It’s a quiet trip and you won’t see too many cars, but if you’re looking for some good country scenery, this is a good spot.
The Historic South County Road Trip follows a portion of the northern extension of the Cowlitz Trail through Lewis County, including stops at the oldest courthouse in Washington, the oldest Catholic church in Washington, a secluded but beautiful little waterfall, and a couple of museums. It’s a must-do for anyone looking to connect with history.
You could also stretch the legs and walk through historic downtown Centralia. Simply enjoy the architecture in the downtown core and explore the Edison district, which is home to several craftsman homes that were once home to many of our city’s founding families. Even better, this walk puts you in close proximity with several places to stay and eat very close to the cultural heart of Lewis County.
Want to see some beautiful mountain scenery? Check out our Mountain View Excursion, which takes you out on the White Pass Scenic Byway to some stunning viewpoints and vistas from which to see three major Northwest peaks and volcanoes. Also, visit the White Pass Scenic Byway website for more road trips in the eastern part of our county!
Find out more information about each of these on our Road Trips page.
boating and camping are the heart of all that's offered at parks around Riffe Lake.
The largest lake in Lewis County offers endless recreational opportunities. Stretching from the eastern edge of Mossyrock to just west of Randle, more than 23 miles of open waters are home to several species of fish, and several parks and campgrounds along the lake’s shores are perfect places to stay the night, a weekend or even longer.
Several parks and campgrounds owned and operated by Tacoma Power — who also owns and manages the Mossyrock Dam, which formed Riffe Lake in the late 1960s — have dozens upon dozens of spaces for you to pitch a tent or park a trailer.
Mossyrock Park, on the far east end of the city of Mossyrock and the far western arm of the lake, offers 152 campsites. Seventy-six of those have water and electric hookups for your convenience. A boat launch, group camps, coin-op showers, laundry facilities, and more round out the offerings at this park that has proven popular each year.
Plus, for those itching to get out on the water, a boat launch is just a jump away from the camping area.
For more details on Mossyrock Park, including a virtual brochure and information on how to reserve campsites and more, follow this link.
Taidnapam Park sits on the eastern end of Riffe Lake, just west of Glenoma and on the northern edge of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. With 163 individual campsites and a boat launch also in close proximity, Taidnapam Park is on a very scenic end of Riffe Lake among forested hills and a beautiful stretch of the Cowlitz River.
Amenities at Taidnapam include a day-use area with playground equipment, a picnic area and more; and a locally-famous fishing bridge that has brought many a youngster front and center with catching their first fish.
For more on Taidnapam Park, including a virtual brochure and more, follow this link.
There are multiple other ways to enjoy Riffe Lake, too. For example, Riffe Lake Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds also in close proximity to the lake, located just off Osborne Road in Mossyrock.
Now let’s talk fishing the Riffe for a second. Fishing is great for bass, rainbow trout, crappie, coho and Chinook salmon and even catfish! Launch a boat, stand on the shore or enjoy the Taidnapam fishing bridge. If you want the most up to date conditions on fishing, call Tacoma Parks’ fishing hotline at (888) 502-8690…and as always, read your WDFW Fishing Pamphlet for specific rules!
Finally, there’s a somewhat hidden gem on the far western end of Riffe Lake. Swofford Pond is a great opportunity to enjoy some more peaceful waters and a bit more secluded setting. Kids especially love Swofford Pond because of its gentle waters and the ability to catch a decent number of fish from the shoreline. To get there, take Mossyrock Road East to Swofford Road and continue until you reach the signs denoting Swofford Pond.
Do you like finding some of the oddities that lie along America’s roadways? We have a few here in Lewis County, believe it or not, that you can add to your travels.
The Giant Pencil
This pencil, located at The Freeman Center in Centralia, which is a tutoring spot for kids, stands MUCH taller than any human does. This pencil rests up against the house used for tutoring and is plainly visible from the road!
Also, in 2016, the pencil was ornately decorated for the holidays!
Once you’ve seen the pencil, you can head on into downtown Centralia for a bite to eat and to explore more of the local area. How about taking the Historic Centralia Walking Tour while you’re at it?
To get there, take Exit 82 and head east on Harrison Avenue. Bear left on First Avenue when you reach it, and look to your right for a giant pencil after two blocks.
The Yard Bird
This giant cartoonish-looking bird has sat perched for years in front of what was once a major retail center of the Twin Cities, the Yard Birds store. Today, the building houses a giant indoor swap meet, and the bird outside — which served as a major advertising tool for the store — has been restored to weather the elements the Northwest throws at it.
Yard Birds was built in the early 1970s, and local residents remember it fondly. Having shut down in the mid-1990s, the Yard Bird is an iconic piece of Lewis County history as for many, it recalls a simpler time. For those passing through, it’s a grand opportunity to get a snapshot of something bound to make you just smile.
To get there, take Exit 81 from I-5 and head east on Mellen Street, then take a right on the traffic light with Pearl Street. Go over the viaduct and follow the street for a mile and a half until you see the giant bird on your left.
World’s Largest Egg
Standing on a pedestal that boldly declares this 1,200-pound, 12-foot-long giant egg as the biggest in the world, this homage to Winlock’s history as a major producer of eggs in the world delights many who pass through the city.
Over the years, it’s been repainted. After 9/11, it looked like a giant American flag. During Seahawks frenzy in the year in which they won the Super Bowl, it had a giant number 12 painted on it. Today it’s rather plain, looking just like the original giant egg it was built to be.
Want more history on Winlock? Check out the Winlock History Museum and the Renegade Rooster, both treasure troves of info on the eggs-celent history of this town.
Take Exit 63 from Interstate 5 and travel into the city of Winlock. Turn right on Kerron Avenue once you cross the railroad tracks, and you’ll quickly find it on your right.
BONUS! Drive around town and you just might find a few chicken statues painted different colors, that are scattered throughout Winlock. How many are there, though? Let us know what you find.
The Smallest Post Office in the United States
The town of Mineral lays claim to the smallest post office in the United States, and although there might be a rival to it somewhere, nothing else exists like it locally…that’s for sure.
A small shack near Mineral Lake on Mineral Hill Road was the place where settlers in Mineral in the late 1800s would pick up their mail. It actually contained post office boxes, and served the community well for quite some time.
An interpretive sign on the building’s outside tells the neat story of its history. Check it out, and also visit beautiful Mineral Lake nearby!
To get there, take Highway 7 from Morton up into Mineral, and follow the signs into Mineral. You'll find it right near Mineral Lake Lodge.
Tidbit of trivial knowledge: Did you know there are 30 peaks in Lewis County alone that reach more than a mile above sea level?
Lewis County is centrally located to three major mountains of Washington State, and even more small peaks that make up part of the Cascade Range and Goat Rocks Wilderness. We’ve got easy access to both Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens right from our backdoor, and if you’ve got a high-profile vehicle, Mount Adams isn’t too terribly far away either.
Whether you want to hike, enjoy the views from the car, or whatever your heart desires, our mountain regions and the surrounding communities offer a TON to fill a weekend and then some.
Check out our Discover Our Mountains page for much more information, including ways to get to Mount St. Helens from both the north and the west, and a great auto tour loop through Mount Rainier National Park.
Lewis County is home to four of Washington’s State Parks, each with a setting unique to them.
Explore the one of Washington’s oldest intact stands of old growth forest at Lewis and Clark State Park just east of Napavine and north of Toledo. This park is popular for camping and offers some nature trails that are perfect for everyone from young to old.
If you prefer to be closer to water, try Rainbow Falls State Park, which hugs the Chehalis River and offers access to Rainbow Falls, a small yet vibrant waterfall that goes through a series of basalt rocks. Camping at Rainbow Falls is first-come, first-serve, and there are more than 5 miles of hiking trails on site. A day-use area features a meadow that is great for picnics and games.
Ike Kinswa State Park boasts miles of shoreline along both the Tilton River and Lake Mayfield in east Lewis County. Camping is available here, and cabins are available for rent. A boat launch is located north of the park, and this park is in a perfect location from which to start exploring East Lewis County.
And finally, but not least, the Willapa Hills Trail is a state park in and of itself. Walk, run, ride a bike or a horse — explore this long-distance trail that’s open to non-motorized use however you see fit. Right now, 23 miles of the trail is open from Chehalis to Pe Ell, passing through forests, alongside farms and next to the Chehalis River.
There’s truly something for everyone in Lewis County. Whether your family is large or small, your kids are small or growing rapidly, you’ll be able to find something that everyone’s bound to love. Check out the rest of our website and continue to explore all we have to offer!