As the sun climbs higher in the sky, enjoy Grays Harbor’s natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities at the newly upgraded Twin Bridges County Park. Known informally as the “Elks Picnic Grounds,” Grays Harbor County renamed the area last June when it took control of the park after a long-term, long-expired lease with the Aberdeen Elks was officially terminated. The “twin bridges” moniker comes from two bridges – one spanning a railroad and the other a county bridge. The name goes back about 50 years.
“For years and years, the kids all called it ‘Twin Bridges.’ They would jump off the bridges into the river in the summer,” comments Mark Cox, Grays Harbor County Utilities and Facilities Supervisor,
The bridges aren’t side-by-side, but the name stuck.
According to Cox, the area used to be the old county “poor farm, like a homeless work camp.” He says the county work crews have discovered “all sorts of interesting historical facts” while sprucing up the park, like coal and concrete. He surmises that the concrete may have been for road projects. The land was originally property of Grays Harbor County. It’s now set to re-open to the public, just in time for summer.
Tourist and family-friendly features include:
- Easy entrance and egress on a newly graveled roundabout
- Full-time caretaker on-site
- 8 old, refurbished wooden picnic tables with 6 new metal ones on order
- Direct access to the Wynoochee River
- Nature trails
- ADA accessible portable toilet
- Several hundred feet of gravel bar with a gentle decline
- No sharp drop-offs into deep water (swim at your own risk)
Cox adds, “The fast side of the river is on the other side (of the park), so there’s safe wading for the little ones.” He also notes that the Wynoochee River that wraps around the park is clean.
Says County Commissioner Frank Gordon, “It’s going to be a great addition to the county and I think it will also benefit Montesano. You could walk there (to the park) from Montesano. It will be a real asset to the community, especially for our local people. It’s the neatest looking park in the county.”
The park is day-use only with free admission. No campfires or camping are allowed, but Cox hopes to bring in barbecues along with a play structure and walking trail eventually.
“It’s going to be a fantastic place for the kids to play,” says Cox.
According to Cox, future plans for the park, pending funding, may include:
- Boat launch
- Interpretive trails with signage identifying local flora
- Direct park access off Devonshire Road, eventually
- New play structure
An inmate crew recently cleared some nature trails in the woods at the site. “They did a great job,” says Cox. “The kids are coming to have a great time out there exploring the woods.”
All kids are welcome at the park, including the physically challenged. Cox, who has a son in a wheelchair, is particularly sensitive to accessibility facilities within the park. He’d like to work with the Resource Conservation Office to find money and resources to develop more handicap-friendly facilities and play areas within the park. “It’s been a fun project,” he says. “It’s also been a challenge and I’ve enjoyed working on it.”
Commissioner Gordon echoes Cox’s sentiments. “Everything’s coming along and it looks good,” he says.
Grab the picnic basket and lawn chairs. Dust off a Frisbee or beach towel and head to one the county’s choice outdoor opportunities for the whole family: Twin Bridges County Park.
Getting there: If you’re heading to Montesano from Aberdeen, take the Devonshire exit off Highway 12. Turn right at the stop. The Fish and Wildlife building will be on your right. Take the first immediate left across from the Fish and Wildlife building, then the next right on County Farm Road. Continue a short distance until you pass railroad tracks and a stop sign. The park is within sight, just ahead.