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Tacoma Trails - Moderate Hikes

Moderately Challenging Hikes and Trails in Tacoma

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Tacoma Trails

Point Defiance Park has one of the best Tacoma trails

Kristin Kendle

Tacoma trails include mostly very easy, paved walking paths, but there are a few more challenging paths within or near the city limits as well. You will not find much in the way of tough hikes or rock climbing without heading out toward the mountains, but below are hikes that require a bit of climbing up inclines, or even scrambling up a few dirt paths.

If you want a place to take a simple stroll and enjoy the scenery, check out the easy hikes in Tacoma as well!

Swan Creek Trail
Depending on how you enter this park, you may think it is located in a ghetto or that it is a beautifully maintained park. Either way you go, walking the entire trail is a pretty awesome hike, involving some steep grades, sometimes washed out trails, and woodland scenery. There are plans to improve the trails and other aspects of the park, but this is likely the premier moderately challenging trail located in Tacoma, and feels more like an adventure than simply following a beaten path, even though there is indeed a path to follow.

Access: The main entrance to the trails is at 2820 Pioneer Way E, but you can also enter in East Tacoma just off of Portland Avenue and 56th Street. Head toward the forest on 56th and head up the trail heads there. Head consistently toward the left of this entrance and you will eventually (after 1-2 hours) end up at the Pioneer Way end.
Conditions: Dirt paths, varying from well-kept to washed out.
Difficulty: Easy to challenging

Chambers Bay Golf Course Trails
There is an entire series of trails located at the Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, which is about a half-hour drive from downtown Tacoma. There are some moderate inclines here (up to 10% grades), but as walkers can choose which paths to go on, they should be manageable for most fitness levels. The trails are largely located in open spaces, so if it is a sunny day, don’t expect a ton of shade. What’s appealing here is that the trails have wonderful views of the water, and you can access the beach at one point as well.

Access: All access points are located along Grandview Drive W. Entrances to the trails are located at the intersections of Cirque Drive, 56th Street W, 62nd Street Ct W, and 64th Street W.
Conditions: Paved and dirt paths
Difficulty: Easy to moderate, some steeper grades

Narrows Bridge
As of 2007 and the completion of the newer Narrows Bridge, walkers can now cross the expanse on foot. This is an excellent walk for most fitness levels, but given that it is moderately long and has no bathrooms, make sure you don’t go farther than you are willing to walk back. The trail there and back is just over three miles. On dry days, this is a fantastic walk. You can watch boats pass by beneath your feet and occasionally spot sea lions swimming by. On rainy or windy days, you might just want to skip this walk all together as you are completely open to the elements on the bridge.

Access: Follow signs to War Memorial Park off of 6th Avenue near the Swasey Public Library and Pao’s Donuts. Make a right onto Skyline, and a left into the park. Walk through the park to access the path onto the bridge.
Conditions: Paved
Difficulty: Moderate

Point Defiance
Point Defiance is among the best Tacoma trails for a number of reasons. There are many things to do in this park beyond taking a stroll, including a visit to the zoo, Owen Beach, checking out some historical sites, or enjoying a festival. Or you can do some of these things as you walk. The park takes up a large swath of land, some of it trails and some of it open parkland. The actual trails are located back behind the zoo, so either park near the entrance and walk back, or drive, but either way follow signs that point toward the zoo. There is ample parking there as well. Five-mile drive is the main walking trail here, but many other trails wind through the woods. Once you are behind the zoo, this park is forested and offers lovely views of the water from all sides.

Access: The entrance to the park is at the end of Pearl Street. Follow signs to the zoo or Owen Beach. Trails are well marked from there.
Conditions: Paved and dirt paths
Difficulty: Easy if you stay on main paths, but some steeper dirt inclines are tucked back on some of the trails if you want more of a challenge

Titlow Beach Park
Located at the very end of 6th Avenue, Titlow Beach and Park offers a variety of recreational opportunities, but hiking is among the best. There are a few options here. Head down the small boardwalk and down onto the beach (if the tide is out). You can walk up the beach for a mile or two. This path is moderate simply because it’s entirely on rocks and can get tiring. There are also a series of trails through the woods adjacent to the beach.

Access: Get to the beach portion of the park by heading straight toward the water from the parking area on 6th. Get to the trails by walking straight through the park in front of the parking area, and go past the pond here to find the entrance to the trails.
Conditions: Dirt paths, rocky beach, grass
Difficulty: Easy to moderate


 

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