Top Nature Hikes in Tacoma

Spanning Federal Way, Auburn, Puyallup, Anderson Island, and more, we've got you covered with local recommendations for high-quality outdoor adventures from Craig Romano, author of "Urban Trails: Tacoma."
Craig Romano Craig Romano
Mountaineers Books author
November 06, 2019

You may not immediately look to Washington’s third largest city for a walk in the wild. So be prepared to have Tacoma surprise you. Within the hustle and bustle of this metropolitan area are some large natural areas laced with excellent trails that invite walkers, hikers, and runners of all ages and abilities to explore and be wooed. So no need to head to the backcountry this weekend if you're looking for a great place to do an all-day hike, long run, or get-back-to-nature stroll. Check out these three urban wildernesses in and near the City of Destiny from my new book Urban Trails: Tacoma instead. 

Fort Steilacoom Park

HIKE 13 IN URBAN TRAILS: TACOMA

Distance: More than 7.0 miles of trails

Elevation gain: Up to 200 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Family-friendly: Yes, and some trails wheelchair and jogger-stroller friendly

Dog-friendly: On-leash


A former US army fort turned mental health hospital farm is now one of the largest and finest urban parks in the South Sound. Walk, run, or hike on more than 7 miles of trails traversing woodlands, prairie, rolling hills, and lakeshore. Run and walk past structures and relics from the park’s farm days. Take to a paved loop hike around Waughop Lake and delight at showy hardwoods reflecting in sparking waters. And from open hillsides, marvel at Mount Rainier rising above the 340-acre sprawling park.

 

Point Defiance Park

HIKE 3 IN URBAN TRAILS: TACOMA

Distance: More than 15 miles of trails

Elevation gain: Up to 350 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Family-friendly: Yes, and some trails jogger-stroller friendly

Dog-friendly: On-leash


The pride of Tacoma, Point Defiance Park is a Washington treasure and one of the finest urban parks in the country. Walk, hike or run on an excellent network of trails that traverse showy gardens, spectacular groves of old-growth forests, and travel along high coastal bluffs. After a walk in the wild on this peninsular park, head to a shoreline promenade and watch for seals or sunlight dancing on sparkling waters. And throughout the park marvel at historic sites and some of the finest views of mountains, sound, and islands from any urban park anywhere.

 

Swan Creek Park

HIKE 11 IN URBAN TRAILS: TACOMA

Distance: More than 5.0 miles of trails

Elevation gain: Up to 350 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Family-friendly: Yes, and some trails wheelchair and jogger-stroller friendly

Dog-friendly: On-leash


One of Tacoma’s largest parks, Swan Creek has two distinctive and interesting facades. The southern and western reaches of the park contains a mountain bike riding area and the intact road system of a former World War II housing development, once home to thousands. The northern and eastern reaches of this 373-acre park offer quite a contrast. Here hike 2.4 miles up a deep forested ravine cradling cascading Swan Creek. It’s one of the wilder and more natural areas in the city. And after you emerge from this emerald canyon take a stroll or run through a ghost neighborhood.


Read detailed route descriptions for these and 41 more of the best trails from Anderson Island to Enumclaw and Puyallup to Maple Valley in Urban Trails: Tacoma.

Also check out the other volumes of the Urban Trails series, including guides to Seattle, the Eastside, Everett, and Olympia, and follow Craig on Facebook @CraigRomanoGuidebookAuthor


Looking for more of Craig's recommendations? Check out his top picks for RUNNING ON THE EASTSIDE and EXPLORING WHIDBEY ISLAND.

 UT Eastside blog header_cropped_text.jpgEbey_cropped_text.jpg