The Mima Mounds Nature Preserve is located near the small community of Littlerock, Washington, just southwest of Olympia. The mounds are approximately six feet tall and thirty feet in diameter and they are found on the grasslands of the Puget Prairie. They are composed of loam on gravel and are somewhat tear-shaped. The nature preserve occupies an area of approximately one square mile but the mounds originally occurred over an area of about twenty square miles. Similar mounds have been found in the other western states and in the midwest. There are a number of theories as to how they were formed that range from giant gophers to glaciations. Native Americans burned the prairie grasslands on a regular basis but now they are being encroached upon by conifers. Now they are doing controlled burns to preserve the prairie.
Mima Mounds is one of those areas that I have known about for some time but I never quite got around to checking it out but I had seen them from the train on a trip to Seattle. It’s easy to find, take the Littlerock exit from I-5 and proceed west through Littlerock. Turn right on Waddell Creek Road and turn left 0.3 miles past the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve.
There are no hosts here, but there is a kiosk with informational signboards and several viewing platforms that overlook the mounds. Drifts of light blue camas, vivid blue-purple violets and bright yellow prairie buttercups bloom here in April and May. There are about fifteen species of wildflowers, eighteen species of butterflies and a variety of songbirds. You can walk the half mile paved trail through the mounds or hike an unpaved two mile trail around the perimeter.
Bring your binoculars and a water bottle and enjoy the peace and quiet. This is a magic place and you can walk the paths among mole hills as tall as your head but keep your eyes open. You just might see some giant gophers working and solve the mystery of the Mima Mounds.