West Lewis County is the agricultural heart of our region, with lush and fertile valleys sustained by the Chehalis River and the South Fork Chehalis River. In the springtime, the area is a lush green; in the autumn, this region transitions to one of vibrant color as leaves burst with color.
Start by heading out from Chehalis on state Route 6 toward Adna. Take Bunker Creek Road to Dieckman Road and then enjoy a few moments at Back Memorial County Park, especially if Mount Rainier is in full view in the distance. Bring a camera with a zoom lens and shoot away!
Head back on Highway 6 west, and take a left on Boistfort Road. You’ll pass through some of the most fertile farmland in the county, and depending on when you go you’ll be able to see farmers at work maintaining their crops amid the colorful landscape. But it’s not just farming that Boistfort is known for — stop at the historical marker adjacent to Boistfort School and learn about the history of the area as a major hops producer in the early part of the 1900s.
About a mile beyond the Boistfort School, take a right at Pe Ell McDonald Road to head toward Pe Ell. The road winds nine miles through forests and rolling hills, providing a scenic and quiet drive down a lesser-traveled road. It’s especially scenic in the autumn!
Once in Pe Ell, it might be a good time to grab a bite to eat. Take a brief respite at the city’s war memorial and gazebo, which offers a bit of shade on a warm day. If you haven’t packed a lunch or dinner, Evey’s Cafe is a mainstay in the town and a favorite among the locals.
Pile back in the car and take Highway 6 east this time toward Chehalis. But don’t go too far or you’ll miss one of the agricultural icons of our area: Willapa Hills Cheese, which is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and is home to a variety of artisan cheeses created right there on site. A sign points to Willapa Hills Cheese from the highway, so it’s difficult to miss.
Continue on Highway 6 and make sure you take a left at Stevens Road and get a few photos of the old Doty General Store. It’s one of the few remaining relics of a once-thriving railroad town that was served by the Northern Pacific Railroad, which itself has now been converted into the Willapa Hills Trail.
Track back onto Highway 6, then take a left on Chandler Road. Cross the bridge, take a right at Leudinghaus Road and then proceed to Rainbow Falls State Park. The park is named after a section of the Chehalis River that, when the sun hits the water at the proper angle, creates the effect of a rainbow over the small waterfall. You can see the falls from several points in the park, and back along Highway 6 too.
This trip is a great one to take to explore some local history, and depending on the season, see some beautiful colors as the trees and foliage change.
In all, the trip should take about two hours at minimum, but if you want to explore a little bit, allow three to four.