Pacific Northwesterners are used to a lot of rain, so when the weather dries up, what’s the first thing many of us look to do? Get outside. One great option for enjoying our beautiful home is to explore it on two wheels, pedaling along the area’s many off-road bike routes.
Whether you are an avid cyclist or are simply looking for a fun, leisurely family activity to fill an afternoon, the South Sound offers a great range of off-road bike routes for everyone. See some new sights and discover the South Sound’s backyard on two wheels with these great, fully paved bike trails.
Chehalis-Western Trail (Lacey)
Head south toward Lacey to ride the Chehalis-Western Trail. This 22-mile-long trail spans from Woodard Bay on the Sound through Lacey before it finally meets up with the Yelm-Tenino trail near the town of Rainier to the south. This is a personal favorite — you’ll ride through both urban and rural environments, accessing Puget Sound, Chambers Lake, forests, wide open farmlands, wetlands and more. Parking and restrooms are available at numerous trailheads along the way, which can be located on this trail map. Read more about riding the Chehalis Western Trail here.
Over 14 miles in length one way, the Yelm-Tenino trail stretches through the towns of Yelm, Rainier and Tenino. This off-road bike route connects with the Chehalis-Western Trail about halfway. On the way, you’ll get the chance to ride through woods and farm country and cross the Deschutes River by bridge. Check out the route on this map ahead of time to plan your ride.
Scott Pierson and Cushman Trails (Gig Harbor)
You’ll start this ride by heading over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on the Scott Pierson Trail — a fun experience in itself — and then continue on toward Gig Harbor via the Cushman Trail. Access the Scott Pierson Trail at the intersection of 6th Avenue and North Skyline Drive near War Memorial Park and ride over the bridge. After crossing the bridge, there is a short stretch of road riding (head right at 24th Street NW, then left at 14th Avenue NW) to link up with the Cushman Trail, which will be on your left. Despite being an off-road bike route, the Cushman Trail has several restrooms and pit stops along its 6.2-mile stretch before it ends near Borgen Boulevard.
Foothills Trail (Puyallup to South Prairie)
The Foothills Trail offers up to 30 miles of roundtrip biking on a paved, off-road trail, all the way from East Puyallup to South Prairie. Trailheads in East Puyallup, McMillin, Orting and South Prairie offer multiple starting points that allow you to tailor the length of your ride. Probably the most scenic section of the trail runs from Orting to South Prairie (about 11 miles), where you’ll bike alongside the Carbon River and be greeted by impressive views of Mount Rainier. Check out this trail map to help plan your ride.
BPA Trail (Federal Way)
For a shorter ride in the Federal Way area, try out the BPA trail. This trail runs beneath power lines of the Bonneville Power Administration for a little under four miles. It’s a bit hilly, but on a sunny day, you’ll be rewarded with some peek-a-boo views of Mount Rainier as you weave in and out of neighborhoods, forests and a wetland.
On the next sunny day, break out your bike and helmet and head to the trails for some scenic cycling. You’ll get in some exercise, explore some new scenery and have a lot of fun in the process. For more information about off-road bike routes (and on-road routes) in Puget Sound and the surrounding area, explore this Pierce County Bike Map. If you’re feeling more adventurous and want to explore further, Cascade Bicycle Club offers links to bike maps, covering everywhere from Bainbridge Island to Snohomish.