The Matthew McGee Nature Trail winds in a semi-circular fashion through the coastal forest with a wetland area, located to the rear of the Center. This outdoor learning environment is named for the original settler of the property where the Center is now located. A favorite place for visitors, school and youth groups also use it for field trips.
Representative of the many volunteer projects that benefit the Center, planning for this trail began in October 2008. Conceived as a Senior Culminating Project by 9 students from Aberdeen, Hoquiam and North Beach High Schools, the project was supported by the Interpretive Center and City of Ocean Shores, Pacific Education Institute, Grays Harbor College, WSU Extension – Forestry, NOAA, Grays Harbor County Noxious Weed Board and a Biodiversity grant. The students were responsible for studying plants of the Northwest Coast to gain background information; planning and design; public relations; and community involvement efforts. Center Director Neil Eldridge, a retired forestry expert, was a key member of the planning and design process.
Following the education, planning and design, and public relations processes that occurred during the winter months, trail construction began in the spring. Student and adult volunteers assisted with clearing brush and building the trail. The trail was dedicated in early April 2009.
At the entrance to the trail is a quote by Susan Fenimore Cooper, an American naturalist and environmental author:
“What a noble gift to man are the forests!
What a debt of gratitude and admiration
we owe to their utility and beauty.
How pleasantly the shadows of the wood
fall upon our heads, when we turn from
the glitter and turmoil of the world of man!
The winds of heaven seem to linger amid
these balmy branches, and the sunshine
falls like a blessing upon the green leaves…”