Take a self-guided Restoration Walk on Thurston County’s Glacial Heritage Preserve

There will be three walks each of approximately two miles (see Map):

  • Prairie – Explore this beautiful Puget Trough glacial outwash prairie, one of our states most imperiled ecosystems.
  • River – See the bird and plant habitat along the Black River
  • Woods – Walk through restored Oak Groves and the delightfully cool Douglas Fir Forest.

For the hike you will need to bring a mask per person, hand sanitizer, first aid kit, water and snacks. Wear good hiking shoes. Bring warm clothes – the wind is often blowing on the prairie making it quite chilly. If you are joining the picnic lunch, you may want to bring a camp chair as we will be eating outside on the prairie. If you are participating in the work party, bring work gloves. No dogs are allowed. A restroom will be available.

You’re welcome to bring picnic lunches as well.  Please bring seating you can carry as you will be eating on the prairie.  We wont be providing trash receptacles this year, so plan on packing out your trash.

We are asking groups to participate in helping keep the Scot’s Broom under control.  Please plan on spending an hour or two to help out.



While you’re enjoying the prairie

Join the Prairie Appreciation Days iNaturalist Project

We invite you to join the Prairie Appreciation Days community on iNaturalist as we document the biodiversity and phenology of the South Sound prairies and oak woodlands. We want to track which flowers are blooming, what insects are visiting them, when birds are arriving, and capture the wild variety of organisms that are inhabiting our prairies and oak woodlands.

Our focus is on South Puget Sound prairies, primarily Glacial Heritage Preserve, but also includes Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, Scatter Creek Wildlife Area, West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area, and all the other scattered remnants of the once widespread prairie/oak woodland plant communities of the southern Puget Trough region. Our geographic range is Thurston and Pierce Counties in Washington State.

We intend to track observations over the course of the next several years to watch for changes in species composition and life stage timing. While our primary interest is in native species, we are also interested in distribution, abundance and status of invasive species, especially any new invasive that may be gaining a foothold in our prairies and oak woodlands.

See details on the Blog post.

Special Prairie Appreciation Day Event on Saturday, May 8th

We are celebrating Prairie Appreciation Day differently this year! The second Saturday in May will continue to be a celebration of our local prairies. We will still have staff, volunteers, and educators on site, but we will be focusing our efforts on restoration of the prairie. Volunteers will be able to speak with folks who have been part of the restoration of this prairie for decades and help continue this ongoing effort.

If you have been interested in volunteering, this is a great opportunity to meet and learn from some restoration experts and enthusiasts about why they continue to dedicate their time to restoring this ecosystem. Volunteers are (always) encouraged to work at their own pace, enjoy the scenery, and bring binoculars to enjoy the birds that call this preserve home.

Please join us to celebrate the prairie and the biodiversity that makes this landscape so breathtaking at this time of year.

This project is suitable to volunteers of most ages and abilities. We will be walking short distances over gravel roads and uneven prairie. Pulling broom requires some kneeling or bending, and some good humor, as some of these plants are tough to get out! Kids of all ages and families are welcome.

If you would like to sign up to help with this event or our other projects, or have any questions about the spring events, please send an email to and we will get back to you soon.
Volunteers can sign up for this project as individuals, or as a group.


County Parks and Trails: Thurston County parks and trails are open. Unless you are recreating alone, masks are required for everyone ages six and up. Park visitors are encouraged to practice physical distancing and take everything they bring to the park with them when they leave, including garbage.


Take a tour of the Violet Prairie Native Plant Seed Farm in all it’s Spring Glory

Tours can be arranged for Monday through Friday by contacting


For an easier outing: visit the Mima Mounds Natural Area

(Discover Pass Required)


If you wish to take your dogs on a prairie outing, visit the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area

(Discover Pass Required)

For your enjoyment

Here are some images from a Pre-Pandemic Prairie Appreciation Day (2019)


Glacial Heritage Preserve

This 1110 acre site is jointly owned by Thurston County Parks and Recreation and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. It is located in southern Thurston County southwest of the town of Littlerock, WA. It contains four main habitat types: Oregon white oak woodland, prairie grassland, riparian woodlands, and coniferous forest. These habitat types form a unique mosaic crucial to the survival of a wide range of plants and animals. This preserve is a key component in a network of nature preserves helping to conserve one of the rarest ecosystems in Washington–prairie grasslands. It hosts several rare species including the golden paintbrush, white-topped aster, Zerene fritillary, western meadowlark, western bluebird and more.

Mima Mounds Natural Area

Established in 1976, this 637 acre preserve was created to protect rare examples of mima mound landforms and Puget prairie grasslands. It is located just west of Littlerock down Waddell Creek Road. This site includes a Garry oak woodland and savannah which support a wide variety of prairie dependent butterflies and birds. Mima Mounds serves at Prairie Appreciation Day’s ADA accessible site and features a 1/2 mile ADA accessible loop. This is a great stop for those with limited time to enjoy beautiful prairies and mysterious mounds. Group tour are offered at this site. If you are interested in scheduling one on Prairie Appreciation Day, please email

Colvin Ranch

Colvin Ranch is a five generation owned and operated grass fed cattle ranch located near Tenino. This ranch champions in their continued stewardship of the historic prairie lands through sustainable grazing practices that balance native plants to flourish along cattle. As a part of the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, this working cattle ranch is a leader in determining a balance between sustainable cattle grazing with prairie conservation. For Prairie Appreciation Day, this ranch is hosting its annual open house on site. Wagon ride tours through the ranch will occur at 11am, 12:30pm, and 2pm.

Violet Prairie Seed Farm

Come visit the Center for Natural Lands Management’s Violet Prairie Native Seed Farm. Sited on a 104 acre preserve, this farm is surrounded by tall oak tress and Scatter Creek. Thirteen acres of native wildflowers produce over 1000 pounds of seed annually to rebuild the prairies of Western Washington. May is peak bloom and a great time to walk the seed fields and learn about the unique methods of native seed production. Farm staff will be on-site to chat. The tools we use to work this farm are available for visitors to explore. Farm gates will be open from 10am to 3pm.

Area Maps


Picnic on Prairie Appreciation Day

There is no food available for sale at this event. Plan on bringing your own food and refreshments to any of our event locations. For Littlerock locations, the nearest food and beverage for purchase are located at Hillbilly Beans, Littlerock Tavern, Taqueria La Esquinita, and Chevron gas station. For Tenino locations, there are options in the town of Tenino and on the way at the Grand Mound exit on I-5.