There’s no easier way to get outside and enjoy mother nature than with your own two legs. If you’re bored of your usual walk around the neighborhood and need some inspiration, then try out these great three-mile treks, which will get you out into the beautiful local scenery of the South Sound.
Sesqualitchew Creek Trail
An unexpectedly special place, Sesqualitchew Creek Trail is a hidden gem of the South Sound. Upon arriving at the trailhead, the parking lot of DuPont City Hall, you would never guess that you’re on your way to a little piece of paradise. In just three miles, you’ll go from urban DuPont to a green tunnel of trees, to a secluded stretch of beach and back again.
The trail starts from the parking lot at DuPont City Hall (1700 Civic Drive, DuPont). From the parking lot, follow the trail north. The trail (about one-third paved, one-third gravel/dirt) follows the creek, winding its way through a green, forested canyon toward the waterfront. Along the way, you’ll see large moss and fern covered trees, bustling wildlife and more.
After descending a couple of hundred feet (at a gradual decline suitable for all ages, and even a stroller if you’re willing to do some off-roading), the trees will thin and you’ll come to a wetland. Be sure to read about the history of this special spot on the informational signs before crossing under the train tracks through a tunnel to get to the beach.
Through the tunnel is a quiet, pebbled beach to explore. The whole family will have fun finding crabs under barnacled rocks, climbing around the old pilings, skipping stones on the water and combing the beach. Be sure to look out across the water for a great view of the Sound before heading back up the trail.
Fort Steilacoom Park
Nestled conveniently between Steilacoom and Lakewood, Fort Steilacoom Park offers 340 acres of fun for the whole family. There’s everything from a lake and one of the area’s largest off-leash dog parks, to a large playground, wooded forests and more. There’s also a great trail system here, where you can explore all that the park has to offer. This approximately three-mile loop brings you around the lake, up to some great viewpoints where you’ll catch a glimpse of the Olympics and Mt. Rainier on a clear day and even to a historic site. This trail map can help to orient yourself with the park and the route of this walk before you go.
When you reach the main entrance of the park (8714 87th Avenue SW, Lakewood), take a left and then park immediately in the gravel parking strip to the left of the road. Begin your walk by heading South along one of the paths through the grass, away from the baseball fields. You’ll pass the 22-acre dog park on your right, which, due to its size, is a local favorite. When you come to the southeast corner of the dog park, cross the paved road and then head to the right along the path between the dog park and the forested hill. This will lead you through a beautiful old oak tree grove and eventually to a paved pathway circling Waughop Lake.
Begin to circle the lake clockwise, about half a mile, until you come to an intersection of trails with Pierce College up on the hill to your left. Begin walking toward the college up the hill, keeping the buildings to your left. Follow the trail to a viewpoint (with great views of the Olympic Mountains over the Puget Sound), before cutting back in the direction you came.
Instead of descending the hill that you climbed, continue on the ridge to the left of the lake (be sure to keep a lookout for Mount Rainier to the east). Follow trails toward ruins that have been made into a memorial honoring the hospital residents who used to live and work on the old farmstead on the park’s grounds. From there, follow the paved path back down to the edge of the lake, out past the parking lots and dog park, returning to your car at the northwest corner of the park.
Chambers Bay Loop
Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place got a lot of attention when it hosted the US Open in 2015. But this spot can be enjoyed by more than just golfers. The trail system of Chambers Creek Regional Park is one of the most scenic places you can go to take in expansive views of the South Sound.
The Chambers Bay walk is a loop, and you can start at a number of different spots. There is a parking lot at the northeast corner of the loop (off of Grandview Drive West between Cirque Drive West and Bristonwood Drive West), and another at the southwest corner, down the hill through the main entrance to the golf course. You can also park on Grandview drive between these two locations.
Arguably the best scenery of the entire loop comes at the top of the hill above the golf course, where you’ll have a fantastic, panoramic view of the course and the Puget Sound beyond. Somewhat steep hills on either side of the loop walk will bring you down to the waterfront, where you’ll weave between the holes of the golf course and remnants of old mines. If you choose, you can take a side trip over a beautiful pedestrian bridge to cross the railroad tracks and drop down to a rocky beach to explore. Along the loop, you’ll also find a playground at the north end of the loop, and a dog park at the south end. Completely paved, this walk is a popular spot for walkers, joggers and families with strollers.
If you want a real treat, head to Chambers right before sunset — it’s the perfect place to enjoy the colors of a Pacific Northwest sunset over the Sound.