Trails for everyone, forever

Home Go Hiking Hiking Guide Hilburn Preserve

Hilburn Preserve

Olympic Peninsula


Olympic Peninsula -- Olympia
View map below


2.0 miles of trails



0.00 out of 5

(0 votes) Log in to rate
WTA worked here: 2016

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


Meandering along Goldsborough Creek through 9.4 acre Hilburn Preserve, the trail follows the water from clay cliffs to muddy banks. The river’s edge is lined with rows of bare white alder trunks in the winter or bright green foliage in the summer, and the surrounding forest is made up of a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees, a range of fern species, and epiphytes blending from one type to the next.

Park in a small gravel lot near the trailhead kiosk. Begin your loop  by turning to the right (north) from the kiosk  and following the trail towards the river. You can complete the loop trail by taking a left or right at the fork. Left will take you south past a row of ecology blocks and continues to the right past a gate. Turning right at the fork will take you north past Goldsborough Creek, and is the route described below. The trail loops towards the left (west) from the creek.

Continue to the river’s edge just a minute’s walk down the trail and stop to admire the steep clay banks sloping down to the water below. Next, retrace your steps just a few feet back and turn right (left coming from the parking lot) to continue down the river’s edge on the trail.

At about 0.1 miles down the trail, the path opens out beneath a set of power lines. Directly under the power lines, heading to the left there’s a little boot path that provides an opportunity to rejoin the gravel road, which runs parallel to the trail and the water, just about 200 feet over. To the right, another little boot path angles downward to a viewpoint from the river’s bank.

The viewpoint allows visitors to peer upstream past the rows of alders lining the shore to admire a series of weirs acting as a fish ladder to help salmon. Ladders provide areas of calm water that the fish can rest in as they struggle against the current. As salmon travel upstream to spawn each year, fish ladders are one way humans can encourage and aid salmon that are reclaiming an old habitat. Although thousands of salmon once swam in the Goldsborough, it is now a recovering ecosystem.

The river was dammed in 1885, and coho, chum, steelhead, cutthroat, and other salmon had been struggling to survive without the full range of their habitat, but in 2001 the dam was finally removed. With the river no longer blocked, 25 miles of river habitat were opened to the fish. And the fish are coming back. Numbers had dropped dramatically when the dam was put in, but since the dam was removed numbers of young coho produced in Goldsborough accounted for 60 percent of young coho in that area of the South Puget Sound in 2006. As more salmon return to the river, scientists are closely monitoring the recovery. Although only a small river, Goldsborough provides a hopeful model for salmon recovery stories.

Back on trail, continue through the riparian forest, keeping close to the bank the whole way. At about 0.4 miles, stop to sit on a log in a small wooden shelter and gaze out across the rushing water. From here, veer left and come to a three-way junction, where you will turn left to go back to the parking lot along the gravel road, which stops just several meters from the shelter.

Climb a set of stairs and follow a boot path no more than 0.1 miles to a viewpoint above the river, or turn right to continue into the preserve on a dirt trail. Following this path, walk another 0.4 miles until the trail crosses a set of railroad tracks. On the other side, the trail continues for another 0.1 miles until it rounds a bend in the river.

At this point, the fish weirs end and the river widens and calms as it turns the corner. From there the trail becomes unmaintained and eventually tapers off, but a boot path continues to ramble through the brush a little way farther.

Stop to admire the river and then turn back to return to the shelter. From the shelter, return the same way along the river or loop around on the gravel road through the forest.


Hilburn Preserve

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.2087, -123.1374 Open map in new window


Olympic Peninsula -- Olympia

Capitol Land Trust

See weather forecast

Getting There

From 101 north from Olympia, take the Matlock exit. Turn left onto W Railroad Avenue and after passing under the highway, take a sharp right onto W Hulbert Road. Continue into an automotive shop parking lot, and turn left at a sign for a senior center.

Continue straight through the parking lot until the road ends in a closed gate with a Green Diamond Resource Company sign marked “Private Property” at the top. Park in a gravel lot near the trailhead kiosk, leaving room for traffic and other visitors to pass or park, and begin your walk by walking past the gate and onto the gravel road or turning right and heading down a dirt trail to the river.

take transit

This trailhead is accessible by bus! Plan your visit by bus using TOTAGO.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


You can improve or add to this guidebook entry

Hilburn Preserve

6 Trip Reports

Hiked here recently?

Submit a trip report!
Trip Reports