Capitol Lake is a small freshwater lake created in 1951 by damming the Deschutes River, a decision that has caused controversy. The lake needs periodic dredging to remove river silt, the water quality makes it unsafe for swimming and boating, and it’s construction destroyed a saltwater estuary. Signs along the trail provide pros and cons from a study of recommendations for the lake’s future. It seems like nothing will be done for a while so, for now, enjoy the trail around the lake.
The 1 1/2 mile trail circles the lake. The western section is a concrete sidewalk alongside the road but when the trail reaches Marathon Park it changes to finely crushed stone. It’s hard packed and fairly easy to push along. If you’re feeling ambitious and have some help pushing, a connecting trail switchbacks up to the state capitol building where there’s a great view of the lake.
The Capitol is opened for guided or self-guided tours. The elaborate building, constructed with Washington state sandstone and granite, was finished in 1928. The interior features marble floors and walls, and a huge Tiffany chandelier suspended from the rotunda. Most capitol buildings have historic displays but the only information we found were brochures about the building and the grounds.
The accessible entrance is at the southeast corner. Elevators access all of the floors but the sunken rotunda level can only be accessed by stairs.