Mount Rainier is the pinnacle of hiking in the South Puget Sound, and while it’s well worth the time, effort and money to go there, there are alternatives for a family-friendly walk with stunning views and beautiful trails without leaving the cities behind. With springtime just around the corner, these hidden (and not-so-hidden) gems of trails in the communities of DuPont, Lakewood and University Place let you enjoy a forest, beach or lake experience:

Sequalitchew Creek Trail (DuPont)

This relatively easy trail has a unique and beautiful payoff at the end. The 1.6-mile (one-way) out-and-back trail meanders from the parking area, down to the Sequalitchew Creek and then along the creek. Placards with information about DuPont’s explosive history dot the trail before it sends visitors through an abandoned railroad tunnel (don’t worry – it’s a short one, with plenty of light coming in from both sides) with trains regularly passing just 10 feet overhead. On the other side of the tunnel, the trail opens up to a beach with views of Anderson Island across the water.

Fort Steilacoom Park/Waughop Lake Loop (Lakewood)

Fort Steilacoom Park in LakewoodThere’s a whole series of trails totaling approximately seven miles around historic park Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, but visitors are most often drawn to the two-mile loop trail around Waughop Lake. A completely flat and accessible trail, the Waughop Lake loop is a quiet and relaxing place for a walk, jog or birdwatching trip. If you’re bringing along a canine companion, the off-leash park at Fort Steilacoom Park features a special area for smaller sized breeds, so dogs of any size can play safely.

Chambers Bay Loop (University Place)

Chambers Bay Golf CourseNo list of trails in Pierce County would be worth making without mention of Chambers Bay Loop, a 3.25-mile, mostly-flat loop with stunning views of Anderson Island, McNeil Island, Fox Island and the Olympic Mountains. You might have to dodge an errant golf ball or two from the championship golf course at Chambers Bay that shares some of the land around the trail, but that’s a small price to pay for the views, and the beach access provided by an elevated pedestrian bridge that juts off the main loop trail.

Seeley Lake Park (Lakewood)

A one-mile woods-and-wetland loop around the outer edge of a 48-acre park, Seeley Lake in Lakewood is a nature-lover’s dream. The water levels fluctuate throughout the year, offering a unique experience each time you visit, but the squirrels, ducks and marsh birds are your constant companions, and the oak-dominated forest provides their home and the backdrop for your hike.

Bresemann Forest Trail (Spanaway)

The more adventurous sort will notice The Spire, a man-made climbing rock built by the Army Corps of Engineers, at the entrance to the trail. The rest of us will appreciate the easy-yet-scenic 1.7-mile Bresemann Forest Trail loop trail in Spanaway that includes bridges across streams, forested pathways, and sections that take visitors alongside Spanaway Creek as it makes its way to Spanaway Lake. It’s a trail that feels miles from civilization, but is just minutes from shopping, restaurants, hotels and entertainment.
Why choose just one? Stay overnight in DuPont or Lakewood, and work your way down the list, enjoying more than 11 miles of forest, beaches, lakes and views of islands and mountains.

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