The 14-mile Yelm-Tenino Trail travels through the rural towns of Yelm, Rainier, and Tenino on a paved route through agricultural areas, forests, and wetlands. Commuters can access Olympia, Lacey, and other areas of Thurston County on a triad of linked trails. The 21.2-mile Chehalis Western Trail intersects the midpoint of the Yelm-Tenino Trail. The Chehalis Western then runs north, connecting with the Woodland Trail and reaching the perimeter of Woodard Bay. The Yelm-Tenino Trail climbs a gentle 320 feet from Tenino to Yelm.
Tenino was the destination of the Northern Pacific Railroad's 65-mile Pacific Division line between Kalama and Tenino as early as 1872. In 1874, a 40-mile line was built through Yelm to Commencement Bay in Tacoma; this line operated as a Burlington Northern line until the late 1980s. Tenino, known as the Stone City, built a sandstone depot, now the Tenino Depot Museum, in 1914 along the main line from Portland to Tacoma.
You can start your journey at Tenino City Park, adjacent to a campground. After running past a few homes, a ballpark, and restrooms, the route begins to parallel State Route 507. The forested path then crosses Military Road to rise above SR 507. The road is never far, but a swath of fir and maple trees provides a barrier. A historical kiosk precedes 1 mile of scenic forest trail beside McIntosh Lake, where herons come to watch trail users.
At 6.5 miles, you'll reach the intersection with the Chehalis Western Trail. The Rainier trailhead lies just 2 miles farther. The landscape widens as you pass through Wilkowski Park and cross under a trestle. The trail runs closer to the road for the next 5 miles as it approaches Yelm, eventually ending at the trailhead on Railroad Street SW.
To reach the Tenino trailhead from Interstate 5, take Exit 102, Trosper Road SW/toward Black Lake. Head east on Trosper Road SW. In 0.3 mile, turn right onto Capitol Boulevard SE, and go 1.9 miles. Continue on Old Highway 99 SE for 9.1 miles, and turn right at the T-intersection onto Sussex Avenue E/SR 507. Immediately turn left onto S. Ragless Street. In 0.1 mile, turn right onto Park Avenue E. Turn left at the entrance to the city park at 309 W. Park Avenue.
To reach the Yelm trailhead (behind City Hall on Railroad Street SW) from I-5, take Exit 111/SR 510. Follow SR 510 southeast for 12 miles (making a few turns to remain on SR 510). Turn right onto Railroad Street SW. Find the trail at the corner of Washington Street SW.
The Rainier trailhead is on Centre Street just off SR 507. From I-5, take Exit 109. Head west on Martin Way E, and immediately turn left onto College Street SE/Rainier Road SE. After 13.9 miles, veer right onto Minnesota Street N. In 0.3 mile, turn left onto Binghampton Street, and then make an immediate left onto Centre Street N. Trailhead parking is on the left.