Scatter Creek has a wealth of opportunities for outdoors people of all varieties including bird-watchers, hunters, horseback riders, historians, and botanists. By combining rare prairie wetlands, a large forested area, and an old historic building all in 960 acres, Scatter Creek has attractions for everyone.
There are two main sections of Scatter Creek, the North Tract and the South Tract, and each has a separate parking area. In fact, the North Tract has two parking areas, located just .5 miles apart on Case Road. The southern parking lot for the North Tract has a pit toilet, but the northern parking lot does not. From either parking lot, choose a dirt and grass road to follow out across the prairie.
From the northern parking lot, take a sharp left or a sharp right to follow a two-mile loop trail that encompasses the wide-open prairie. To make the trip a little shorter, go straight into the prairie and make a smaller loop through the center.
From the southern parking lot (still at the North Tract), go straight for just a hundred feet or so before reaching a junction. Turn right to head toward the northern parking lot, and then choose a loop to follow, continue straight for the larger loop, or turn left to cross a fence onto land leased by a private owner. This trail is leased out so please be respectful so all may continue to enjoy access here.
The trail on the leased land is a 1.5-mile loop from the southern parking lot that passes by Scatter Creek and its surrounding wetlands. Combine both loops for a 2.5-mile loop around the perimeter of the entire North Tract.
For more of Scatter Creek, continue down Case Road to reach the South Tract parking lot, which also has a pit toilet. From the South Tract parking lot, there are two loop trails available for hiking, but horseback riding is prohibited except with a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife permit.
Recreation is limited in the South Tract because of fragile ecosystems that are being preserved, so check before you go. Sometimes hiking is restricted in the South Tract.
To best enjoy the South Tract (if it's open), follow this route. From the South Tract parking lot, turn right to begin on the inner loop. The most obvious point of interest are two collapsed buildings, now surrounded by fencing.
These buildings once belonged to George and Marita Miller, who traveled by wagon from Oregon to settle at Scatter Creek in the 1850’s. Later, the property was sold to Reece Brewer, a friend of Miller’s. Brewer and his family farmed cattle, sheep, and vegetables on the prairie, and Brewer also was active in his community as a member of the territorial legislature, the postmaster, Justice of the Peace of Grand Mound, and Thurston County Commissioner. Sadly, both this building and the nearby barn were burned down in a wildfire along with about 30-40 acres of land, and all that remains is the brick chimney and the wreckage.
Continuing past the buildings’ remains, the trail winds past the creek and into the oaks. At about 0.5 miles into the walk, the trail splits with the inner loop continuing to the left and the outer loop branching off to the right.
Neither of the two loop trails is open year-round, with the outer 2.25 mile loop open from August 1st to March 31st and the inner 1.5 mile loop open from April 1st to July 31st.
About the Area: Both the North and South Tracts include native prairie grasslands that have become rare in Washington State. Accordingly, this land is protected not only for recreation, but also for preservation. Numerous species depend on the prairie land, including butterfly species that are closely tied to rare Oregon white oak habitat.
Oregon white oaks line Scatter Creek itself and are prevalent throughout the South Tract and on the Southern border of the North Tract. To preserve the unique habitat, multiple restoration projects are in progress. Prescribed burns, invasive species management, and native species restoration help to keep the area in its natural state, and the trail closures at different times of year help protect ground-nesting birds and threatened or endangered butterflies.
Besides conserving native land, Scatter Creek is also used for hunters. Pheasants are routinely released in the area in large numbers, and bird dog training is available in the North Tract.
WTA Pro Tip: Be sure to check the rules and regulations for both the South Tract and the North Tract, and know what time of year different parts of the area are open. Hunting season is September to January. For more information visit wdfw.wa.gov.