Hicks Lake

Local Streams

Located between Carpenter Road to the east and Ruddell Road to the west, City of Lacey's Hicks Lake is at the upper end of Woodland Creek/Henderson Inlet Watershed. The first of three interconnected lakes that make up the so-called "tri-lakes area" along with Pattison and Long Lakes, Hicks Lake is the source of Woodland Creek, one of the Henderson Inlet's major contributing streams. With a surface area of 160 acres, Hicks Lake is fed primarily through a groundwater connection as well as surface water flow.

Hicks Lake

The tri-lakes watershed area is relatively flat. The surface elevation of Hicks Lake is 162 ft., approximately 12 feet higher than the lowest of the three lakes, Long Lake, which lies at about 150 feet. Like other area lakes, Hicks can fluctuate, rising several feet during periods of heavy winter precipitation and dropping during dryer summers. While relatively broad, Hicks Lake is shallow with a mean depth of 18 feet and a maximum of 35 feet.

Hicks Lake is a surprising water body to find in such a densely urbanized area and offers public access for recreation including boating, fishing and power sports such as water skiing. The City of Lacey’s Wanschers Community Park, located at the northwest corner of the lake, features beach and shoreline access, in addition to many other amenities including picnic tables, bank fishing, grills and more.

Adjacent to the park is a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) boat launch. Hicks Lake is a popular fishing lake, and WDFW rules apply. Fish species found in Hicks Lake include introduced sport species, such as, brown trout, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and largemouth bass, black crappie and yellow perch. The lake is stocked for sports fishery by the WDFW.

Like other lakes in the Thurston County, Hicks Lake featured popular resorts which were destinations for tourists during the early part of the 20th century from more urbanized locations, such as Tacoma and Seattle. One such reminder of these earlier times is the Gwinwood Retreat Center, located on the west side of the lakeshore. Gwinwood started its life as a destination lake resort. Here, during the 1910s and 1920s, guests and locals alike flocked to hear popular music from artists like local favorite violinist Paul Stebbin’s Ragtime Orchestra. In addition to music and dancing, resort visitors enjoyed cottages, fishing, swimming beaches, boating, water toboggans and horseback riding.

The Great Depression of the 1930s impacted all area resorts, as did World War II era gas rationing. While some lake resorts hung on during the 1950s, eventually they were all sold for private development. While none of the original cottages still stand, Gwinwood still exists as a 29 acre church retreat and rental facility and remains a reminder of this earlier era.

Palustrine wetlands include all non-tidal, freshwater wetlands dominated by trees, shrubs, persistent emergent plants, emergent mosses or lichens, as well as small, shallow open water ponds or potholes. Palustrine wetlands are often called swamps, marshes, potholes, bogs, or fens.

South of Hicks Lake, behind Timberline High School, is a connected palustrine wetland complex of trees, shrubs and emergent vegetation of 162 acres. Water from this wetland then flows south through a remnant ditch and eventually a culvert that flows under Mullen Road just west of Glen Terra Drive, connecting Hicks Lake with the second lake in the horseshoe shaped tri-lakes system: Pattison Lake. Periodically, this culvert can clog with vegetative matter, restricting flow and resulting in problematic high winter lake levels on Hicks Lake. More on Pattison Lake will occur in a future edition of the Stream Team newsletter!