Renovations "Make the Grade" at Lake Sylvia State Park

A paved path winding along the edge of the lake.

Located north of Montesano, Washington, Lake Sylvia State Park is a quiet, peaceful retreat surrounded by forest. The Park began as an old logging camp in a wooded area halfway between Olympia and the Pacific shore. The lake was formed by damming up Sylvia Creek for the purpose of log ponding and power production.

In 1936, the town of Montesano donated the land to the State parks Commission for conservation. Additional lands were added to the park by a trade in 1985.

The 233-acre camping park is located just one mile north of Montesano, Washington, off Highway 12. The Park offers a variety of recreational activities including boating, fishing, camping, swimming and hiking.

There are two rail-trails located in the park. One of the trails includes a wooden bridge built just above the elevation of the water. The boardwalk bridge makes a great locationfor fishing on a sunny day.

Huge, old growth stumps can be found throughout the park. There is a giant wooden ball carved from a single log by a local logger. The legend describes how the logger would stand atop the floating ball and "walk it" from one end of the lake to the other.

Prior to 1999 the park was mainly inaccessible to persons with disabilities. In the spring of 1999, the park underwent a massive renovation.

An existing bathhouse was rehabilitated to include four private bath/shower rooms, and an accessible paved and curbed walkway leading up to it. The parking lot was striped and signed for accessible parking.

Patrons are pleased with the large private rooms that allow them to bring children in for showering after a day spent playing in the sand and swimming in the nearby lake. Private rooms include accessible shower hardware, sink, toilet, handrails, lowered hooks for hanging clothing and towels, and dressing benches.

A paved walkway leads from the parking lot below the bathhouse along the lake front. This accessible path passes the newly constructed water fountain, winds around a paved picnic site with accessible barbecue grills, and leads to a specially built bench with clear ground space for wheelchair seating next to it.

The paved walkway continues along the lake and ends at the wooden boardwalk near the dam which is a favorite fishing spot for local anglers. The lake is stocked annually with trout. Though fishing was enjoyed from the paved bridge over the lake, there was no place for persons with disabilities to fish. An accessible fishing pier was constructed at the edge of the lake for all to utilize. The pier has safety rails on three sides with a paved and curbed accessible ramp leading down to it.

Heading in the other direction on the lake, a water access platform was added on the beach. This enables a wide range of visitors, including those who use wheelchairs, easy access to the lake. Rails were installed on three sides of the platform for safety. Where the trail crosses the road, striping and textured warning buttons were laid down.

For further information on the Lake Sylvia Access Improvement project, contact:

Robert Kirkwood, Civil Engineer
11838 Tilley Road
South Olympia, WA 98512
(360) 753-4085

Julie Childress, Project Inspector
P.O. Box 42650
Olympia, WA 98504-2670

Visit the Washington State Parks & Recreation website at:


The citation for this article is:

National Center on Accessibility. (July 29, 2002). Renovations "Make the Grade" at Lake Sylvia State Park. Making the Grade. Indiana University-Bloomington: National Center on Accessibility.