Tacoma is full of beauty. Whether you wander the waterfront or find yourself following a fern-lined trail in a forest, the walking routes around our city and neighborhoods are sure to bring you a deeper appreciation for our corner of the Puget Sound.
We start with this classic and well-known stretch of sidewalk that runs between Ruston Way and Commencement Bay. Full of restaurants and viewpoints, places to rent bikes and spots to sit and watch the seals, this iconic path is perfect in so many ways – as a fun sunny day wandering destination or a great place to stretch the legs after sitting in the office all day. The entire length of Ruston is seven miles in length round trip. For the best views, go down here on a clear day around sunset and look toward Mount Rainier.
The trails at Snake Lake weave through 71 acres of preserved forests and waterways, helping make it a fantastic family destination or post-work walking area. Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset, Snake Lake’s two miles of trails have two small foot bridges to cross, a good loop around the lake and an upper trail that will get you some elevation. With each step along the shady and cool trail, watch for birds sitting in the trees or swimming on the water. When crossing bridges, watch for turtles and even salamanders in the water as you make your way around this small, but ideal trail system.
Tacoma Narrows Bridge
We have all probably driven over the Narrows Bridge once or twice, but have you walked it yet? Part of the larger Scott Pierson Trail, this five-mile trail crosses the Puget Sound, giving stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier and the waters below. The trail is paved, easy to follow and is both dog and family-friendly, making it a perfect destination for everyone. If you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of orca or humpback whales as they swim in the waters below, but you’ll most certainly catch sight of seals far below if you look carefully.
While many visitors stick to the short boardwalk and shores of Titlow Park, the trails here are much more expansive. Within eyesight of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Titlow’s two miles of trails wander through forests and along the rocky shores of Puget Sound. Open from just before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, walking Titlow allows you to choose your own adventure – walk along the beach, through the trail system in the forest or simply stroll around the pond or on the boardwalk. Titlow is also a great place to see birds, starfish (when the tide is out) and maybe even a whale! The sunsets here are pretty amazing, too.
Swan Creek isn’t too well known, but it should be. Located in East Tacoma, between Portland Avenue and River Road, Swan Creek Park is another fantastic trail system for those hoping to walk in the woods. Combining elevation with access to a salmon-bearing stream and both level and pleasantly challenging trails, you have two fantastic options for mileage and relative solitude in the forests in this often overlooked park. Your best walking route will be to start at E. 56th Street and get on the Swan Creek Trail, which runs for nearly two and a half miles before heading back on the mile-long Canyon Rim Trail. You can also park at the park’s main entrance on Pioneer Road, where you’ll enjoy more level trails to start.
Finally, we end with yet another classic walking destination for residents of the region. While not technically in Tacoma, the short drive to University Place makes this an incredibly convenient and gorgeous place to get some steps in. Home to amazing sunsets, incredible views and over three miles of trails and pavement to walk, exploring Chambers Bay by foot is a great workout with amazing rewards. With the expanse of the Olympic mountains visible in the distance, the paths around Chambers get you up on bluffs, on bridges and next to the seal filled waters. There are few places as beautiful and as open as Chambers Bay, giving you unrivaled views to the west and allowing you to forget about the stresses of life.