This cute, kind of artsy shot of my youngest was taken at what was almost the site of a landfill.
Swan Creek was saved from that fate, and if you go walking there on a crisp, fall day, you’ll be glad it was. This largely undeveloped park is in the heart of Tacoma, but if you haven’t heard about it, you’re not alone. Even the city brochure is titled, “Swan Creek: A Local Hidden Treasure.”
The entrance is right off busy Pioneer, just a few miles from the Emerald Queen and all the city bustle. Within a few minutes, though, the sounds fade, and you’ll find yourself standing under towering maples and strolling by a burbling creek (really-I don’t take the use of the word burbling lightly)!
Now, a few years back, I wouldn’t have taken kids here. The area had been sort of ignored and was largely being used by less fortunate folks who were pitching tents and leaving behind some really scary litter. But don’t worry! Thanks in large part to the efforts of community groups, the area has been cleaned up. Henry and I went last week, and except for a few soda cups in the parking lot, the place was spotless. It was private, too. We saw two couples walking their dogs and a delegation of folks from that friends group I mentioned. They’re in the process of developing a master plan for the place. While this will no doubt be a good thing, I say, go now before it gets discovered! The trails are flat and wide and this time of year there is all kinds of gorgeous fall color. Don’t be surprised if you don’t make it past the bridge, though. Henry was happy to chuck leaves into the creek for an hour, and I was happy to let him.
Now, some of my friends are uncomfortable doing walks like these alone. If that’s you, this would be a great outing for a familiy or a group of pals. Do secure any valuables, as you’ll quickly be out of sight of your car.
Also be aware that the parking lot isn’t well marked, and for some reason Pioneer is the tailgater express. The lot will be on your right if you’re coming from Tacoma. Take the road that curves around the Emerald Queen and the Puyallup cemetary (slow down-traffic cameras)! There is a light right after the cemetary. You’ll go down that road about a mile more. After a big, square building that says “Clay,” you’ll see a smaller, red barn building and then the little gravel lot for swan creek will be on your right. If you haven’t been signaling for a while, you may have to miss it and double back (tailgaters, remember)?
You can also come from Puyallup, basically by staying on Pioneer.
Updated 6/2013-There have been major updates to this spot recently. It’s on its way to becoming a major mountain biking destination. I say go now while it’s still a hidden treasure!