Thurston County Runabout

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Enjoy this ride taken from the book, The SR! Guide to Motorcycling in Western Washington

Thurston County Runabout

Oh Mama Mima (not a misspell and you'll see why in a moment). If ever there was a route through Thurston County, this one takes the cake. Our friend Steve Schiller submitted this to us, we rode it and all we can say is - WOW!

The ride begins on the west end of Olympia and winds up near Joint Base Lewis McChord. It's all low elevation and makes a great ride just about any time of year. In the early fall you'll find some wet leaves on the roads, but by mid-November they are typically gone. Part of the route is on the Centralia flood plain, so if you hear of flooding in the area, pick another day to ride it.

Along the way you may see the following crossing the road - chickens, turkeys, dogs, cats, deer, peacocks, humans, ATV's and dirt bikes.

The route starts on 2nd Ave in West Olympia at the off-ramp of SR 101. Head south and immediately you're into some very nice twisties. Then follow Delphi Road into the Capitol Forest and hang a right onto Waddell Creek Rd. Make a hard left onto Waddell at its junction with Sherman Valley and continue south. This is a designated OHV area so don't be surprised if you see a few dirt bikes and ATVs criss-crossing the road in front of and behind you. No big deal - it doesn't last long. Soon you pass the first highlight of the ride - the Mima Mounds.

Continue south along Mima and Gate roads. At Moon Road, follow the directions that will take you around and cross over US 12 at Rochester.

For the next section, follow the directions closely as you wind your way alongside Independence Creek and later Lincoln Creek. Mr. Schiller has made sure to give you a fine route around Michigan Hill that never crosses over itself. Eventually, you'll follow Lincoln Creek into Galvin and ride into Centralia. Lunch, anyone?

This next section is a handy one to know. Imagine I-5 was at a dead stop and you wanted an out. This is it. We take you from Centralia all the way to JBLM without going through Olympia, Tenino or Yelm. Here's how we do it.

Depart the Centralia area heading north on SR 507 for a short while, then go right on Big Hanford Road. Follow our directions for a big twist behind Centralia, then to the Big Hanford steam plant. A look into the wetlands reveals various waterfowl, letting you know the environment is clean enough for them to abound. Continue into Bucoda on Tono Road then reconnect with SR 507 for a spell, before turning right onto 184th and winding your way behind Tenino along Skookumchuck and Johnson Creek roads.

Reconnect again with SR 507, ride northwest to the town of Rainier, then head north up Rainier Road and follow the final set of directions which will lead you to I-5 on the east side of the Nisqually River basin.

The ride begins west of Olympia at the junction of US 101 and 2nd Ave. Map & directions are below.

To order the complete book and optional GPS files click here

Along the way

Mima Mounds - Millions of years ago, the glaciers worked their way along this plain and as they receded they deposited their capture into intricate mounds of soil and rock debris. Go to the visitor’s area here and be sure to climb up on the platform for a grand view across the plain.

12300 Waddell Creek Rd, Little Rock

Vintage Motorcycle Museum - If you like old bikes, you may want to detour south from Centralia to Chehalis and view this fine collection of motorcycles, some which date back 100 years or more. The museum is located in the historic Hotel Washington building. See website for hours.

545 N. Market Blvd,  Chehalis    
(360) 748-3472

Centralia Big Hanford Steam Plant - If you've never been here, no doubt you may have spotted its plume from the valley below. The Big Hanford power plant is a coal-fired steaming wonder built in 2001 and produces enough energy to power all the blow dryers on Mercer Island and in Medina 24 hours a day.

1000 Big Hanford Rd

Where to eat

Northwest Sausage and Deli - Dick Young (who later founded Dicks Brewing Company in Centralia)  started Northwest Sausage & Deli in 1982 as a place where everyone can enjoy Old World style smoked sausage. Today they do that along with a wide array of sandwiches for lunch and offering prime rib on select nights (see website).

5945 Prather Rd SW, Centralia
(360) 736-7760

The Olympic Club Pub - A McMenamins outpost, your search for pub grub ends here in this legendary space where card sharks once roamed.

112 N Tower Ave, Centralia
(360) 736-5164

Where to stay

The Olympic Club - A historical building that was completely renovated in the 1990s into an tidy, affordable flop for travelers between Seattle and Portland. Simple rooms with shared baths with a restaurant and bar just down the stairs.

112 N Tower Ave, Centralia
(360) 736-5164

Directions & Map




0 ft

Get on 2nd Ave SW and ride west

0.1 mi

Turn left onto McKenzie Rd SW

1.4 mi

Turn right onto Delphi Rd SW

6.3 mi

Turn right onto Waddell Creek Rd SW

9.1 mi

Turn left onto Waddell Creek Rd SW

17.0 mi

Keep right, road becomes Gate Rd SW

20.5 mi

Turn left onto Moon Rd SW

21.5 mi

Turn left onto School Land Rd SW

22.8 mi

Cross over US 12

24.2 mi

Turn right onto Marble St SW

24.2 mi

Turn left onto Marble St SW

29.5 mi

Road becomes Independence Rd, ride southwest

34.2 mi

Turn left onto Lincoln Creek Rd

39.7 mi

Turn left onto Kohse Rd

40.9 mi

Road becomes Langworthy Rd SW

43.0 mi

Turn left onto Michigan Hill Rd SW

45.7 mi

Turn right onto Lundeen Rd SW

49.3 mi

Turn right onto Prather Rd SW

50.3 mi

Turn left onto Michigan Hill Rd SW

51.3 mi

Turn left onto Lincoln Creek Rd

55.7 mi

Turn right onto Galvin Rd

59.5 mi

Turn left onto N Pearl St

61.3 mi

Turn right onto Big Hanaford Rd

62.7 mi

Turn right onto Halliday Rd

65.5 mi

Turn left onto Little Hanaford Rd

67.6 mi

Turn left onto Teitzel Rd

71.4 mi

Turn right onto Big Hanaford Rd

75.9 mi

Turn left onto Big Hanaford Rd

76.5 mi

Road becomes Tono Rd SE

80.0 mi

Turn right onto S Nenant St

80.0 mi

Turn left onto E 6th St

80.1 mi

Turn right onto N Front St/SR 507

81.6 mi

Turn right onto 184th Ave SW

84.1 mi

Keep left onto Skookumchuck Rd SE

87.8 mi

Turn left onto Johnson Creek Rd SE

94.1 mi

Turn right onto Hwy 507

96.7 mi

Turn left onto Minnesota St N

107 mi

Turn right onto Yelm Hwy SE

108 mi

Keep right onto Yelm Hwy SE

115 mi

Turn left onto Hwy 510

118 mi

Turn right onto Old Pacific Hwy SE

123 mi

Arrive JBLM & I-5

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