Tolmie State Park has approximately 1,800 feet (555 meters) of shoreline. The tides have some severe fluctuations here, and therefore please read my Tide Warning Tip for the nearby Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
There are two parking areas in the park: upper and lower. If you are going to the beach, however, if you park in the upper lot the trail to the beach is a fairly steep hill downward.
Due to the tidal fluctuation, there is a lot more beach at low tide than high tide. At the highest tide, the water comes up almost to the tree line. At low tide, the water is so far out it is almost invisible out there on the horizon.
The beach in Tolmie State Park also features a underwater park which has been put together by scuba divers.
There are two basic sections of beach here: the one that is easiest to access is mostly gravel, and not much like the stereotypical beach (many beaches in the Puget Sound region are, in fact, gravel rather than sand). The somewhat more difficult to reach beach is called "Sandy Beach" because, as it so happens, this is a short section of beach that is, in fact, made from sand. To access it, you must either wade across a stream that is very narrow at low tide but too wide and deep for this at high tide, or follow a trail that is not extremely well marked around the base of the hill.
As the gravel beach is closer to the parking lot and picnic area, it has picnic tables, some with some cooking stands. However, Sandy Beach has only one picnic table, which is extremely well hidden in the trees.
Beaches in Puget Sound are privately owned unless they are specifically owned by a public agency. Thus, the beaches to the north and east of the park are marked as such: park visitors are not allowed to go past the signs as beyond them is private land.
Picnic areas are found in a few places around this park. These include a small grass area near the lower parking lot, small bits of open grass area near the upper parking lot, a covered structure attached to the restrooms and a kitchen near the upper parking lot, and a covered structure with a kitchen and restrooms near the lower parking lot. The shelter near the lower parking lot is separated from the parking area by a short trail through the forest.
Many of the picnic spots have fire pits.
The main photo for this tip shows the picnic area near the lower parking area. In the center of the photo in the distance it is possible to see the lower picnic shelter that also has a kitchen.
The picnic shelters are available for reservation by contacting the phone number on the Washington State Parks web site.
There are a small number of trails through the forested areas of Tolmie State Park. Most have fairly steep sections, especially those that lead to the beach. The complete total of trails in the park is approximately 3 miles (approx 5 km).
In most cases the trails are dirt, and even though they are fairly compacted in most areas, you should expect a bit of mud if it is either raining or has rained recently. Some sections of the trails have a bit of gravel.
Almost all of the trails have occasional memorial benches located along them, and right now the benches seem to be quite well maintained.
The Four Cedars trail provides a 2.5 mile (4 km) loop through the forest with a trail called the Twin Cedars Trail creating a shortcut that reduces the size of the loop approximately in half. The Sandy Beach Trail connects one of the day use structures with a section of beach towards the northwest end of the park. A trail with no name indicated on the signs connects the upper level parking lot with the beach directly below it and with the lower parking area.
One end of the Four Cedars Trail and one end of the Twin Cedars Trail leaves from the southern end of the lower parking area that is closest to the beaches. The other end of the Four Cedars Trail is beside one of the day use structures that may be rented for special events.
The map on the parks web site shows the trails, but seeing them on the PDF on the web site gives a clearer view of the entire map, including the trails. The trails map and sign by the lower parking area gives a better diagram of where the trails go and their names.
Western Washington has a reputation for being wet, and while there are worse places on earth than Tolmie State Park the fact is that it does rain here.
There are several wooden bridges scattered through the park that may be quite wet, and the wet wood, especially if there is leaf debris around, or a mud mixture, will make for quite a slippery mess.
Don't Fall In!