With spring officially upon us, it’s time to shed the winter coats for lighter layers and hiking boots. Celebrate the new season with some of the best day hikes in Pierce County.
Hike Mount Rainier National Park
Just a 90-minute drive from Tacoma, Mount Rainier National Park is home to hundreds of miles of hiking trails, varying in length and difficulty. While every trail has views of the snow-capped peak and forested landscape, these three stand out as the best for panoramic views and route intensity:
You’ll want to go chasing Comet Falls. Located in the Longmire/Paradise region of the park, this trail takes you to the base of one of the park’s most iconic waterfalls. Stake out a spot for a picnic surrounded by wildflowers and the spray of the falls.
Southwest: Longmire & Paradise, 3.8 miles roundtrip
Hike the trail from Mowich Lake to Tolmie Peak to get an unobstructed panorama of Mount Rainier with the crystalline waters of Eunice Lake in the foreground. Though the last mile of the hike is a steep incline, the vista at the top is well worth the cardiovascular effort.
Northwest: Carbon & Mowich, 6.5 miles roundtrip
Perfect for a long day of hiking, Green Lake Trail takes you through the Carbon River Rainforest and past Ranger Falls to a secluded, evergreen-lined alpine lake deserving of its name. Soak your feet in the cool water as you also soak in the backdrop of Tolmie Peak.
Northwest: Carbon & Mowich, 10.8 miles roundtrip
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Find Nature in the City
Strapped for time? Check out an in-town hike to get away from it all and experience Washington’s natural beauty.
Not far from Tacoma, the wooded trails of Swan Creek Park take you past streams and over hills, making you feel miles away from civilization. If you’re planning a trip to Tacoma in July, register for the Swan Creek 5k on July 21.
Tacoma, 4 miles total
A perfect solitary getaway, DuPont’s Sequalitchew Creek takes you along the historic trails of the Fort Nisqually fur trading post to a pebbled beach with vistas of Puget Sea and neighboring islands. To extend your hike, explore the city of DuPont’s 12 miles of trails that cover a variety of terrain, from marshes to seaside bluffs.
DuPont, 3 miles roundtrip; 12+ miles
For incredible views of the Olympic Mountains and Salish Sea, check out Soundview Trail near the Chambers Bay golf course in University Place. Tack on some extra mileage and golf course views by connecting to Grandview Trail and making a loop back to where you started. Want a closer look at the shoreline? Take the pedestrian overpass to the public beach.
University Place, 3-4 miles
Gig Harbor’s Cushman Trail is popular among the locals for a reason. Not only does the 6-mile trail offer views of both the city and the natural landscape, it also takes you across the iconic Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
Gig Harbor, 6.1 miles
For a longer jaunt, jump on any leg of the paved 21-mile Foothills Trail from Buckley to Puyallup. If you’re here the first weekend of June, bring some friends to run the annual Rainier to Ruston, a 50-mile relay from the base of Mount Rainier to Ruston Way in Tacoma. An extra incentive: all participants receive a well-earned beer at the finish line. Or celebrate Pierce County Trails Day with the B&O Half Marathon and 10k on July 21.
Buckley / South Prairie / Orting / Puyallup, 21 miles
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Hike Near the Sea
Pierce County is home to two state parks that are perfect for enjoying the warmer weather. Both Kopachuck and Penrose Point boast over 2 miles of seaside trails. Your hike doesn’t have to be limited to the trails: dig your toes into the sand as you explore the beach and its marine life.
Kopachuck State Park: Gig Harbor, 2 miles seaside hiking trails
Penrose Point State Park: Lakebay, 2.5 miles
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Now that warmer weather is on its way, what hikes are on the top of your bucket list?