What would Centralia be like without Fort Borst Park? Can you imagine it – no Thorbeckes, no Tiger Stadium and no Borst Blockhouse!

windermere centraliaThat’s all ridiculous, of course, as Fort Borst Park has been a part of Centralia for generations and as familiar to locals as their own front yard. But for those who are new to the city or who plan to visit, there’s much to explore. What follows is a guide to the park’s amenities, all of which are worth exploring.

A Walk in the Park

Fort Borst is Centralia’s largest park. At 101 acres, it offers a wide variety of recreational activities. This park map gives a good overview.

Several miles of walking and jogging trails loop the park, passing by the lake and winding around the arboretum and the Rhododendron gardens. The trails are flat and easy and part of the trail system is paved for wheelchair access.

Fort Borst Park Picnics
The park offers rentals of picnic shelters for gatherings and special events.
Photo credit: Sara Light-Waller

The park offers rentals of picnic shelters, a concrete stage, and the grounds of the Borst Homestead for gatherings and special events. Rental availabilities are listed at the Parks and Recreation Department’s website.

There are several playgrounds at the park, as well as a wading pool for kids. Restroom facilities are located throughout the grounds.

Sports at the Park

Sports and fitness play an important role at Fort Borst Park. The Northwest Sports Hub Building and Sports Complex includes spaces to play baseball, softball, Little League, soccer, football, tennis and multi-use sports fields.

Centralia High School’s Tiger Stadium is located on park grounds and offers a turf stadium with a 3,500-seating capacity.

Centralia sports courts
Sports and fitness play an important role at the park. Photo credit: Sara Light-Waller

Thorbeckes Fitness and Aquatic Center offers racquetball, fitness and yoga classes, weight training, and tanning facilities. Thorbeckes is a member facility, but the indoor pool is community property and offers swimming, water exercise, lessons to residents and even events held at the pool.

Boating and Fishing

Fort Borst Park is bordered by the Chehalis and Skookumchuck rivers. A boat ramp on the southern end of the park offers easy access for boating on the Chehalis River.

Borst Lake offers fishing from late April through the end of February. The lake is stocked with catchable rainbow trout and warm-water species.

Borst Lake
Borst Lake offers fishing from late April through the end of February. Photo credit: Sara Light-Waller

Lewis County History

Borst Park has two sites of historical significance – the Borst Blockhouse (1855-56) and the Borst family homestead (early 1860s). Both are open to the public on a limited basis. The Borst homestead is part of a living history village which includes a carriage house, a replica one-room schoolhouse, and historic gardens tended by the Lewis County Master Gardeners. The addition of a replica Pioneer Church is currently under discussion.

Help for Gardeners

Are you interested in seed saving, composting or rose care? The WSU Lewis County Extension Master Gardeners and Master Recyclers both offer workshops at the park to improve your gardening know-how. Classes are held at the Borst Kitchens and the Fort Borst demonstration gardens.

The City of Centralia Public Works Department offers free compost to gardeners. The self-loading site is located near the Borst Park Boat Ramp.

Gun Club

Fort Borst Park is home to the Centralia Rifle Club and Junior Division Shooting range. The club offers Washington State Hunter Safety Classes and hosts local high school rifle teams.

Borst Kitchens
Classes are held at the Borst Kitchens.
Photo credit: Sara Light-Waller

Dogs are Welcome

Leashed dogs are welcome at Borst Park, but if you’d like to let your dogs run free, there’s a one acre off-leash dog park located at the southern end. It’s fenced with separate areas for large and small dogs. Water is available there, but you’ll have to bring your own container.

Holiday Events

Although the park offers activities throughout the year, Summerfest on the Fourth of July is a great big event that offers fun for the entire family. Enjoy a pancake breakfast, a fun run, a trolley ride and see historical military displays. This is the only time of the year when the Borst Blockhouse is open for tours.

Recently, Centralia restarted the tradition of the Borst Park Lights in December. These Christmas-themed light displays are arranged around the park loop road and are sure to add holiday sparkle to the cold, dreary winter nights. There’s a suggested donation, or you can bring non-perishable food items for needy families.

It’s easy to see why people regard Borst Park as a central part of life in Centralia. The sheer number of things to do at the park places it squarely in the action, whether you’re out for a stroll, a sports game or a local event.

For more information, visit the Fort Borst Park website.

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