Pierce County may be one of the best hiking counties in the entire country. The facts don’t lie. With stunning waterfalls, gorgeous alpine lakes, sweeping panoramic views, salmon-filled creeks, glimpses of whales and walks through towering trees, the hiking possibilities from Tacoma to Mount Rainier are limitless.
You could spend an entire lifetime exploring just Pierce County, but we have narrowed down our favorite trails for you to explore in 2019. Whether you hike them all or just explore a few, we promise that each adventure will get you into the beauty of Pierce County and remind you just how lucky we are to have these places right in our backyard.
Mount Rainier Area Hikes
At 5.5 miles round trip, the iconic Skyline Trail hike from Mount Rainier’s Paradise region is a late-summer favorite. Offering stunning views of the majestic mountain, as well as fields of wildflowers, this trail is a perfect summer adventure for active families.
With a shimmering lake below and a fire lookout at the top, the Tolmie Peak Trail is another classic hike. Gaining just 1,100 feet in elevation, the total hike is 7.5 miles in length, giving you a perfect summer day hike on the Northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park.
Ideal for moderate to advanced hikers, the eight-mile round trip trek to Spray Park out of Mowich Lake is a Mount Rainier gem. It’s a little steep, but late-summer hikers are rewarded with wildflowers and incredible mountain views.
Carbon River Rainforest Trail
Ideal for families and great in the spring, summer and fall, the Carbon River Rainforest Trail is worth the drive to the Northwest corner of the park. At just a half mile in length, this simple trail can also be lengthened by walking along the old road.
Once the snow melts, seasoned hikers need to head to Sunrise and explore the Burroughs Mountain Trail. Showing off the beauty of Mount Rainier and the surrounding peaks, this nine-mile round trip trail is another classic hike and one that shouldn’t be missed.
Simple to follow and always stunning, a stop at Narada Falls will stretch your family’s legs and show off a breathtaking waterfall. Longer hiking options can be added, making it a great spring, summer and fall hiking destination.
Little Mashel Falls
Ideal in the winter, spring and fall months, Little Mashel Falls is a waterfall lover’s wonderland. Located just west of Mount Rainier National Park, this five-mile round trip hike is kid and dog friendly and gains just 500 feet of elevation.
Perfect as an early season jaunt, Rampart Ridge is a local favorite, showing off the beauty of both the forests and the mountain. Just 4.5 miles round trip, the trail gains 1,300 feet, making it a bit tough for those not used to hiking up hills. The effort is worth the view, though.
Tahoma Creek Suspension Bridge – Emerald Ridge Loop
Not for the faint of heart, or the new hiker, this 14.2-mile loop is full of breathtaking views, a gorgeous bridge and jaw-dropping panoramas. Gaining just over 3,000 feet in elevation, experienced hikers can enjoy the pure wilderness of Mount Rainier.
High Rock Lookout
Another trail leading to dizzying heights, the High Rock Lookout Trail offers hikers on of the best views of Mount Rainier. Complete with an old fire lookout, this 3.2-mile round trip hike gains over 1,000 feet of elevation before reaching a knifelike cliff edge.
Closer to Tacoma
With over 10 miles of trails around Point Defiance, you don’t need to drive far to experience amazing hiking along the Puget Sound. Offering views of the water and Narrows Bridge, as well as rhododendrons, towering trees, and even whale sightings, staying close to home is rewarding and awesome!
Swan Creek Park
Weaving through the woods along well-maintained trails, Swan Creek Park is an underrated gem for local, urban hiking. Ideal for kids, families and dog owners, the four+ miles of trails at Swan Creek will quickly become a favorite.
With roughly three miles of trails, tons of wildlife and even a visitor center, Snake Lake and the Tacoma Nature Center is a family-friendly destination all year. With more than 20 different species of mammals and about 100 species of birds that come to the region, it’s hard to have a bad day here.
Located in the shadow of the Narrows Bridge, Titlow Park offers approachable hiking options. There are level and maintained trails if you keep walking past the ponds here toward the back of the park, or you can walk along the shore. Here, you’ll enjoy the salty air, great views, and maybe a glimpse of an eagle, a seal or even a whale!
Nisqually State Park
As one of the newest state parks in Washington, many aren’t aware of the hiking trails at Eatonville’s Nisqually State Park. The six-mile out-and-back trail leads to a great lunch spot and is fantastic for families looking for a bit more of a rugged adventure.
Puget Creek Natural Area
Since 1985, Tacoma residents have enjoyed the wooded trails at Puget Creek Natural Area. In the fall, you’ll be able to enjoy seeing salmon in the stream here, as it is just one of three salmon bearing streams in the city.
Foothills Trail: Puyallup to South Prairie
Perfect for walkers, hikers, runners and bikers, the Foothills Trail is a 21-mile long jewel in the county. At 12 feet wide and paved with asphalt, you can walk just a few miles or explore the entire trail at your own pace, enjoying stunning views, bridges and more.
Dash Point State Park
With over half a mile of shoreline to explore, 11 miles of hiking trails and endless views, Dash Point State Park deserves numerous visits this year. Perfect for the whole family, we recommend making Dash Point your spring and fall destination, avoiding the crowds and experiencing the quiet beauty of the region.
Nisqually Wildlife Refuge
Birds, mountain views, seals and boardwalks await your family at Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, all easily seen along the three miles of flat trails. Ideal in the spring, fall and winter months, you’ll see flocks of birds, eagles, owls and maybe even seals.