Friday, May 26, 2006

Jackson Highway - Chehalis, Washington

Named for John R. Jackson, an early pioneer who settled in the area, this highway roughly follows what became an extension of the Oregon Trail for those wishing to venture farther north. Read about Jackson, see the old Jackson House and visit Lewis & Clark State Park. Access it from S. Market Blvd from Chehalis or Hwy 12 from I-5.

Not far south of Hwy 12 is the Jackson House. This well-preserved 1848 cabin served as the home of John R. Jackson and was the first "white-man" house north of Vancouver. Well worth a stop, if only for the history explained on the signs and stone posts at the gate. John Jackson settled here around 1844 and the house became a famous stopover on the trip north. It is said that the governor of Washington once stayed here while traveling to Olympia in 1854. The house also served as a courthouse for a time in the 1850's. Tours are available year-round by appointment. Call (360) 864-2643, or just take a peek in the windows.

Lewis and Clark State Park: Only 1.5 miles south of the Jackson House (see above) on the Jackson Hwy. is the entrance to the second park in the Washington State system (the Jackson House property was the first). Although named for the explorers, they did not get this far north. Learn instead about old growth forest and the Cowlitz Indians from interpretative signs in the park. Two interpretative trails with a total distance of about 1.5 miles (out and back) give excellent views of the one of the last stands of old growth forest in the lowlands of western Washington. If you want a longer walk, several trails loop off the main interpretative trail and a service road near the edge of the park offers a pleasant stroll that, together, can boost your hike to several miles. On the opposite side of the highway are equestrian trials. We cannot vouch for the condition of these trails at the moment because we did not try them out. The park is generally open April through September. If not officially open, park near (without blocking) the gate and walk along the entrance road for a short distance to the Trail of the Deer trailhead.

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