Hike a little more than a mile on a shady lollipop loop trail reserved for hikers near the southern edge of the Capitol State Forest, south of Olympia. Gain 300 feet elevation as you ascend from the confluence of the Mill and Mima Creeks to the high point in the grove of big old hemlock, cedar and fir trees.
Start at the big 'BOB BAMMERT GROVE' sign on the south side of the Bordeaux Road. The trail starts out going east, paralleling Mill and Mima Creeks, which both cross under the road and flow east between the trail and the road.
The burbling creek distracts from the quickly rising trail. This soon reaches the first of several small plank bridges with railings that cross small streams rushing downhill. The creek at the foot of the hill fades from hearing after the first switchback, and the forest around you comes into focus.
There are tall slim trees all around, with salal, swordferns, and Oregon grape at their feet. A cluster of bigleaf maples among the conifers sport lacy licorice ferns climbing their trunks.
At a little more than 0.4-mile, a sign with arrows pointing in both directions welcomes you to the Grove itself. I prefer continuing to ascend the hill; others say the counterclockwise route is easier on knees. Take your pick! You will return to this spot, either way.
The largest trees in the featured Grove are in the western side of the loop. They easily match 1930s standard for large trees: “four feet wide and one hundred tall.” I didn’t bring a tape measure, but it's not unrealistic to think most of the large trees are about four feet wide, and even the slightly slimmer ones are 150 feet tall.
Hiking toward the high point, views of sky between the trees suggest you might reach a ridge top, and views into a valley beyond. That ridge is never reached, but the changing character of the forest as we circle the grove more than compensates for the lack of long views.
A bench is provided when the trail passes a narrow valley. A really big redcedar stump with springboard holes invites thoughts of historic loggers with two-handled saws. They stood on the springboards and brought down behemoth trees to supply sawmills so builders had lumber for new homes.
If the return to the trailhead leaves you wanting more, the trail continues on the other side of the road, just beyond the parking spaces. It did not appear as well maintained as the loop trail when visited early in 2019.
For additional family hiking in the area, consider visiting the Mima Mounds, also in the southeast corner of the Capitol State Forest. It offers prairie hiking around the mysterious mounds, and a wide variety of native wildflowers in the spring (and a restroom).