New pump track in Olympia's Isthmus Park, with the state capitol in the background. Credit: Nikki McCoy
Olympia-area families, along with visitors with kids, have a brand new reason to be pumped: the recently opened pump track at downtown Olympia's Isthmus Park. Designed for all ages, the pump track is super-fun for kids on bikes, scooters, skateboards and in-line skates.
“It’s so fun and so many people can do it!” said 9-year-old Henry Beagle, who was rocking a Spiderman helmet and a scooter on a recent visit to the park. Since its opening last month, the park has been filled with roller-enthusiasts, from professional riders to novices to toddlers.
A pump track is a continuous loop of bumps and banked turns that you ride not by pedaling, but by “pumping.” On my visit to the pump track, I was a little skeptical of how the flow of dozens of people on the track would actually work, especially with younger kids in the mix. But it somehow works and it’s pretty awesome to watch the riders in action.
Each hump and corner of the track allows for easy entry and exit. The unspoken etiquette displayed by older kids was pretty easy to figure out: Give way to those already on the track and join in at a gap between riders. It’s really cool to see how people can cruise through the rounds with no bumping or annoyance.
“Is there some unwritten law about going counter-clockwise or clockwise?” I wondered out loud at the opening event for the pump track, as I watched a mix of newbies and professionals whiz around the track.
“No, there’s not,” answered Paul Simmons, City of Olympia parks, arts & recreation director, who was standing nearby. “It’s not like a skating rink where everyone is directed by a DJ or lighting system,” he explained. “It’s just whatever happens naturally.”
The pump track is positioned where the new — and hugely popular — Oly on Ice skating rink was set up this past winter. The city plans to swap these amenities seasonally as a way to keep the Isthmus Park area populated and enjoyed.
Situated right near the Heritage Park Fountain, and across from Capitol Lake, the pump track is in a super family-friendly part of downtown Olympia. The fountain is open daily from 11 a.m.–9 p.m. during summer (June–September) and will be a great way to cool down and chill out after a hot day on the track.
Across the street, at Capitol Lake, a leisurely 1.5-mile stroller- and dog-friendly trail takes you around the scenic and historic lake. Heritage Park offers plenty of grassy areas to lay out a blanket for a picnic, practice cartwheels or to toss a Frisbee around.
For treats, Sophie’s Scoops gelato is just a few blocks away as part of the acclaimed 222 Market, which includes other businesses that source sustainably and value community, such as Chelsea Oyster Bar and Fleurae Floral Design and Gifts. Sophie’s small-batch, made-from-scratch gelato is among the best you’ll ever have. Flavors change daily, and you’re always in for a treat (tip: try my fave, which is lime with candied ginger).
The Percival Landing pier, which is a beautiful stroll during the summer, is right across the street from the pump track, anchored by the newly re-opened historical Oyster House restaurant.
Walking along the pier will take you right to the year-round Olympia’s Farmers Market, where you can enjoy live music, face painting and ready-to-eat food stalls. Tip: try the Heyday Café where menu puns rival Bob’s Burgers and the flavor pairings are unique and delicious. Plus they serve breakfast all day — my kids’ favorite. Fresh fruits, veggies and artisan crafts and treats fill the rest of the farmers market stalls.
For some fresh summer fun, grab the kids, load up helmets and wheels and experience the new pump track. Spend the day exploring Olympia, and you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.
To learn more about what pump tracks are and how to make the most of your experience, check out some great videos from “Kids in Parks.”
If you go...
Find it: The pump track is located at Isthmus Park, 529 4th Ave. W. in Olympia. From I-5, take exit 105 (A or B), then head west toward Capitol Lake. Look for the track across from Bayview Thriftway, at the bottom of the 4th Avenue Bridge.
Parking: Free parking while using the park is available at the two lots on either side of the track. Free street parking can be found along Capitol Lake. Weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends, metered street parking is free in Olympia. Pump track parking is prohibited at Bayview Thriftway or other private lots adjacent to the park.
Hours: The pump track is open daily, dawn until dusk, through the summer.