Although park access is expanded further as Pierce County moves through Washington’s Safe Start plan, not all are accessible to everyone. Some parks require a Discover Pass, which allows visitors vehicle access to state parks and recreation lands. Recently, many are likely scrambling for things to do in their extra time. Hobbies such as hiking and enjoying the outdoors are at the top of the list for many South Sound residents as the weather continues to warm up. Plus, it’s something that can be done safely, regularly and for free or low cost.

Always take notice and comply with posted Center for Disease Control social distancing guidelines while visiting local parks. Whatever activity or outdoor area you do choose, keep those guidelines in mind. American Hiking Society recommends bringing along a face mask or covering, but when to wear it depends on a couple of factors, mainly the near presence of others for more than 10 minutes. Spending time outside and being active is greatly beneficial to mental and physical health.

Near Puyallup

Deadman’s Pond

Sweeter than it sounds, this park is protected land with forested wetlands home to various native wildlife, where abundant acreage leads to Clark’s Creek. Leisurely nature walks give way to ponds and foliage habitats for deer, several bird species, and, if you are very lucky, the Western pond turtle.

Meridian Habitat Park

Multiple entrances mean recreation and space for every activity. An off-leash dog area is just off the courtyard road and visitors park near the community center. Kids can play in wooded and grassy areas and simple walks offer nature views, including wetland wildlife.

Free Parks in Tacoma and Puyallup
Dickman Mill is a small park off Ruston Way, perfect for picnics with a view or simply stopping to soak in the sea salt air. Photo credit: Nicole Martinson

DeCoursey Park

This park is slightly smaller than most, but still sports open grassy fields, trails near a pond and a wooded area leading near Clark’s Creek. Two piers and facilities including a restroom offer fishing opportunities for seasonal rainbow trout.

Swan Creek Park

This area sports plenty of acreage, surrounding the namesake winding creek that stretches for miles. You’ll also find paved trails, nature trails for mountain biking and hiking and a bountiful bonus in a community garden.

Near Tacoma

Spanaway Park

Nestled next to the northern tip of Spanaway Lake, this park includes playing fields in addition to the popular boat launch. Trails run up and down the side of the lake through a heavily forested area and beaches mean the opportunity for summertime fun.

Free Parks in Tacoma and Puyallup
Visitors to Spanaway Park find a bit of every outdoor summer activity. Photo courtesy: Pierce County Parks

Snake Lake Park

A two-mile trail loops around the lake, making the smaller forested area useful as it stretches around and up toward the Tacoma Nature Center. A simple leisure walk will give way to a wide array of foliage and wildlife, while the trail is heavily trafficked to make it adequate for running and the field just north wide enough for dogs or kids to play.

Chambers Creek Regional Park

Chambers Creek contains large open fields, taking up several acres in University Place and overlooking Puget Sound with more than two miles of shoreline. Trails run near fresh creeks, small lakes and flat grassy areas near a golf course.

Free Parks in Tacoma and Puyallup
Chambers Creek Regional Park is part of Tacoma’s long, walkable shoreline. Photo courtesy: Pierce County Parks

Puget Creek Natural Area

A salmon-bearing stream runs through a long cluster of trees and borders a hiking trail, leading to Ruston Way. The nearby waterfront on Commencement Bay makes it an easily accessible quick getaway.

China Lake Park

This serene trail loop runs around a lake and further into a largely undeveloped forested area. The park is easily accessible from the freeway yet offers opportunities for nature views and quiet walks.

The amazing qualities at state parks are worth the cost of a Discover Pass. For those who don’t have or can’t afford one, many of Tacoma and Puyallup parks are free so residents can enjoy the outdoors while staying safely distanced from one another.

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