Deschutes Falls Park ‘a hidden gem again’

The 155-acre site at 25005 Bald Hill Road, more than 15 miles southeast of Yelm, has been closed to the public since it was purchased by Thurston County about 25 years ago. But in about six weeks, it will reopen as the area’s newest recreational treasure.

Butterflies and bumblebees flit among wildflowers set in a landscape of lush green and gold meadow grasses.

Towering Western Red Cedars rise next to giant moss-covered rocks that were created by an ancient mudflow.

And the star of this place, the mighty Deschutes River, swirls in small pools that are inviting visitors to climb in on a hot summer day. A few hundred feet down stream, the often fickle river becomes wild, crashing over rocks and slamming into a 90-foot gorge.

The result? A spectacular set of take-your-breath-away waterfalls.

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The 155-acre site at 25005 Bald Hill Road, more than 15 miles southeast of Yelm, has been closed to the public since it was purchased by Thurston County about 25 years ago. But in about six weeks, it will reopen as the area’s newest recreational treasure: Deschutes Falls Park.

“It’s an amazing place,” said Thurston County parks manager Kerry Hibdon who led The Olympian on a tour of the park on Thursday. “Really, we just have an environment out there that’s been sitting for 25 years, pretty much undisturbed. … I think we can consider this a hidden gem again.”

County officials plan to hold a “soft opening” of the park on or around Sept. 1, Hibdon said. Until then, the park is considered an active construction site and remains closed to the public.

There’s still much to do, including moving a manufactured home onto the property for the park’s caretaker, constructing parking lots, and installing safety fences and signage, Hibdon said.

On Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners voted 2-0 to grant a $54,396 bid to CMH Homes of Lacey for the manufactured…

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