Enchanting and Lyrical: Timberland Library’s Story Trail Winds Through Olympia

By Alec Clayton

Olympia Timberland Library’s Story Trail in Decatur Woods Park and other Olympia area locations extends beyond the month. 

Story Trail is a deconstructed picture book that children and their guardians can read one page at a time as they walk the trails through the woods. The featured title in Decatur Woods Park is “Tiny Perfect Things” by M. H. Clark and Madeline Kloepper. This is the story of a child and a grandfather whose walk around the neighborhood leads to a day of shared wonder as they discover all sorts of tiny, perfect things together. 

A young reader strolls trough Priest Point Park’s story trail.

This first Story Trail was installed at Decatur Woods park on the first of October and will remain on display until the first of November, at which point it will be moved to Evergreen Park on Olympia’s West Side.

Another Story Trail features “Just in Case You Want To Fly” by Julie Fogliano and Christian Robinson, described as a “funny and sweet” story “told with lyrical text and bright, unexpected illustrations” by the creators of the award-winning When’s My Birthday? It was installed at Priest Point Park in mid-October and will remain there until the end of November. 

Olympia Timberland Library public services specialist Chris Sabatini co-created the project with his supervisor, Brenda McGuigan. “This installation is in a particularly enchanting trail, located across from the Rose garden, beyond a large wooden footbridge,” he explains.

Sabatini says, “Story Trail involves having a picture book deconstructed and displayed on signs along park trails, so that children and their caregivers can read a story while walking in the park. Each page contains a supplemental statement written to further engage the readers; either facts about things pictured in the story, search-and-find games, or questions to start conversations.”

A sign (or page) in Priest Point Park pictures an illustration from the book and asks the questions, “In the picture above, can you find a cat? A pair of socks? How many leaves do you see?”

Sabatini says the original Timberland Regional Library Story Trail was pioneered by Mary Prophit and installed on a forest trail in the Cowlitz Valley by the library’s Mountain View branch in collaboration with the US Forest Service. He says that he and McGuigan created the Olympia iteration “as a way of offering literacy programs to our patrons in these pandemic times when we are unable to hold our traditional story times.”

Going on walks is a great way to discover the things both large and small that make up the world around you. It can improve your powers of observation, strengthen your connection to nature, and generate feelings of calm. It is also a great way to spend time with someone you love.Decatur Park story trail sign

Timberland Library is evaluating whether or not to continue through the Winter months; if discontinued for the winter, they will be out again in the Spring, installing new walks. Sabatini says, “We hope to make a tour of all of the Olympia Parks, continuously having a Story Trail in place in both the east and west sides of town.”

Story Trail is a collaboration between the Olympia Timberland Library and the City of Olympia Parks Arts and Recreation Department.  


Timberland Regional Library Story Trail


Decatur Woods Park, 1015 Decatur St SW, Olympia; Evergreen Park, 1445 Evergreen Park Drive SW, Olympia; Priest Point Park, 2600 East Bay Drive Northeast, Olympia


Through Oct. 31 (Decatur Woods); through November (Priest Point Park and Evergreen Park)





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