Tacoma Off The Beaten Path

  • Tacoma Dome and old Union Station (now courthouse)
    Tacoma Dome and old Union Station (now...
    by glabah
  • huge driftwood along Puget Sound at Chambers Bay
    huge driftwood along Puget Sound at...
    by glabah
  • Overpass a very popular spot already, 9 days open
    Overpass a very popular spot already, 9...
    by glabah

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Tacoma

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    Visiting Friends in Tacoma

    by machomikemd Written Nov 22, 2013

    as my relatives live near Tacoma, at Federal Way, which is just s short 10 minute drive from Federal way, if i'm on the seattle area, we usually go to church in Tacoma area as it has the nearest Roman Catholic Church in the southern suburbs of Seattle and then off to seattle.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Budget Travel
    • Religious Travel

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    Ruston Way Walkway: Waterwalk Point Ruston

    by glabah Updated Sep 22, 2013
    Point Ruston Waterwalk has Views of Puget Sound
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    This tip will most certainly be out of date soon. There is a huge effort ongoing to redevelop the old location of the ASARCO smelter into a series of apartment buildings, a movie theatre, stores, and various other amenities. This includes an extension of the Ruston Way Walkway northwest to the edge of Point Defiance. Today it is complete to the edge of the old smelter property, but beyond there the trail is still under construction.

    The trail is on land that is part of this huge apartment complex development and as such it is privately owned. The park opens 1/2 an hour before sunrise and closes 1/2 an hour after sunset.

    The best part of this new trail is that it wanders quite a ways from Ruston Way itself, so traffic noise is not an issue at all from this trail.

    As seen in main photo for this tip, the walkway consists of a very wide paved pathway that serves as a bikeway. There is a gravel pathway closer to the water (only slightly visible in the main tip) that is a softer walking surface and gets people away from the bike and other faster moving non-motorized traffic.

    As seen in photo 2 for this tip, the new benches for this walkway are shaped like a Ship's Bollard. The views out into Puget Sound are pretty extensive. This is a view looking north.

    There is a small playground here about 1/3 of the way along the water from the south end of the walkway. There are also a couple of modern picnic tables (steel with four small benches rather than the more traditional format with two benches). The playground has a unique boat structure in it named "Point Ruston".

    Photo 4 shows one of the several huge murals that decorate the paved walkway portion of this trail. These murals feature "Northwest Scenes" according to the Point Ruston development web site, but some of these are sort of generic water scenes. In any event, they are unique pieces of artwork that have been built into the new walkway.

    The far northwest corner of the trail hasn't yet been completed, as seen in photo 5. However, just the fact that the old road tunnel for Ruston Way has now been demolished makes walking the Ruston Way Walkway much better, as there is now sensible pedestrian access between the bus routes serving Point Defiance and Ruston Way. As recently as 2011, the only way to get from Ruston Way to the bus routes was to walk on narrow roads with blind corners and no official (or even unofficial) sidewalk or road side pathway of any sort. Today, several such roads connect the new Point Ruston development with these neighborhoods, creating a route where one can walk from Ruston Way to these bus routes.

    As seen in photo 5, the end of the trail at the northwest corner of the property obviously plans for future extension of the trail. In the background it is possible to see the Point Defiance ferry to Vashon Island, with the terminal just slightly beyond the fence. One day soon this walking route will be completed.

    Once the trail is completed, even easier access will be possible as the trail will connect more directly with the ferry to Vashon Island, and this is the location where the Point Defiance bus routes terminate.

    Related to:
    • Cycling
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Thea Foss Esplanade: 11th Avenue Bridge & South

    by glabah Updated Sep 21, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    waterway Walkway has industrial art along water
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    Running along the Thea Foss Waterway, a walkway has been built that connects various attractions and features along the waterway. This walkway is referred to by various names, but "Thea Foss Esplanade" is the name used on at least one tourist map, and therefore it is the name I have settled upon.

    I have broken this into two sections: North of the Murray Morgan (11th Avenue) Bridge and South of the Bridge, as the nature of the walkway are quite dfferent between the two sections. This is the tip that discusses the part running south of the bridge.

    South from the Murray Morgan (11th Street) Bridge along the west side of the Thea Foss Waterway, a walkway has been constructed that connects the Museum of Glass, the 11th Street Bridge, and Waterway Park. Using the Bridge of Glass the walkway also connects to the area around Tacoma Union Station, and through Waterway Park it is easy to reach the Freighthouse Square shopping center and SoundTransit's Tacoma Dome Station, but doing so requires crossing several busy streets at traffic lights - which isn't a problem but the entire rest of the route along the waterfront lacks conflicts of any sort with traffic.

    The Dock Street Marina and public pier is also a feature that may be accessed along the walkway.

    Currently, the best part of the walkway runs between the Museum of Glass and the ramp that connects South 15th Street to Dock Street. North of Dock Street, the walkway is interrupted by industries still requiring waterfront access. This short segment requires that users walk on the sidewalk next to Dock Street from the entrance ramp to South 15th Street to a point about 2 blocks north of the ramp.

    Segments of the walkway are decorated with historical artifacts that have been converted to found art pieces that commemorate the history of Tacoma. There are a number of benches and other places to relax, and some open grass areas. There are also areas of open sand that are designed as beach volley ball courts.

    Further north, the trail is a bit more bare bones, and uses old wooden walkways from the days when the Thea Foss Waterway was considerably more industrialized.

    The walkway provides a nice through route between several areas of Tacoma that, thanks to the waterway, involve quite a bit less fighting with traffic than would be involved if you were having to keep to city streets only.

    Thanks to the continued presence of the Murray Morgan (11th Street) Bridge it is possible to walk the entire distance from either the Bridge of Glass or Freighthouse Square along the waterway, and if you don't want to walk back you can climb the pedestrian staircase on the bridge, go into downtown Tacoma, and use SoundTransiit's free LINK light rail train to return to the other end or wherever you started from.

    As noted above, north of the bridge the walkway is quite a bit different, and therefore I have a separate tip for that part of the walkway. Please see my Walkway from 11th Avenue Bridge Going North tip.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Point Defiance Park: Camp 6 Logging Museum

    by glabah Updated Sep 29, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    donkey engines in Camp 6 Logging Exhibit
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    Please Note: This museum was closed for the 2011 season, and all equipment has been sold to various other properties scattered all over the western USA. A fortunate few pieces of equipment have stayed nearby, and were moved to the maintenance facility for the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad near Mineral. This tip was retained, however, as it shows the history of the lumber industry in the Tacoma area. Perhaps one day there will be an operating logging museum again in the region using what has been salvaged from Camp 6.

    ----- From this line down, the tip is no longer in effect. However, the tip does give some record of the equipment that at one time made up the Camp 6 Logging Museum here. -----

    Please note that this museum is located inside Point Defiance Park, which has a large number of activities and attractions. For basic information on Point Defiance Park, please see my Point Defiance tip which gives a basic introduction to the park, and links to the various other attractions and activities inside the park.

    With a long history of industries based on the surrounding forests, naturally Tacoma should have some sort of museum devoted to these industries.

    The camp 6 logging museum has a collection of large steam powered logging equipment and an operational railroad that runs for a short distance on a loop of track through the park. The equipment here is all pretty much as you would have expected to see operating in the woods of Oregon and Washington into the 1960s. The museum had the good fortune of starting operation when this equipment was being retired, and thus the very fortunate situation of being able to obtain materials and equipment exactly as they were used in actual service.

    The museum is pretty much completely closed during the week days, as everyone who works at the museum is a volunteer. The indoor exhibits are open approximately April through September, Wednesday through Sunday, but check the web site for specific opening days. The train ride operates Saturdays and Sundays only, except for certain holidays, approximately April through October. Again, it is best to check the web site for details. Outdoor exhibits are open most days for people to come and take a look at, but without any operation it isn't a particularly exciting place.

    How to Get Here: If driving, you need to take the Five Mile Loop Road all the way around the entire park, as Camp 6 is located near the end and exit of this loop road. It is possible to park in the zoo parking lot and take a hiking trail to the exhibit, but the trail system is not signed and so you need to have really good trail direction sense to do this well. From bus routes #10 or #11 you need to walk almost the entire southern end of Point Defiance Park to the west side as the buses only serve the southeast corner of the park and Camp 6 is located in the southwest corner.

    Related to:
    • Trains
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits

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    Broadway Fountain and Plaza

    by glabah Written Sep 29, 2012
    Plaza at 11th and Broadway, Looking North
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    While there isn't much to this little plaza and the fountain that consumes about half of the space in the plaza, the fact is it is a very convenient location and seems to be a popular lunch spot on nice days. Broadway is not a busy street in this location, but nearby 11th is, and the water works nicely to drawn out much of the traffic noise.

    There are a number of restaurants nearby and on Thursdays during the summer there is also the Broadway Farmer's Market across the street to the north, which provides quite a lot of nice food but few places to eat it. Given the popularity of this farmer's market and the proximity of this little plaza, it should not be surprising that it has become such a popular place to eat outside.

    Unfortunately I'm not a huge fan of concrete rectangle artwork as such structures seem horribly plain, and we already have more than enough boring concrete blocks in our cities in the USA. However, it is quite pleasant to have the noise of the water block out the traffic noise in downtown Tacoma.

    How to Get Here:

    The plaza is located just south of 11th on Broadway, which at this location is actually a narrow one-way street.

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    • Arts and Culture

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    Chambers Bay: Golf Course

    by glabah Updated Apr 2, 2012
    Chambers Bay Golf Course imitates old world course
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    This is part of the series of tips about Pierce County's Chambers Bay Facility, which contains a huge number of different features. My main tourist tip about this facility is located at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/204854/
    and there are links from there to the various tips that discuss the sub-pieces of this wonderful park, golf course, trail, beach, and educational facility.

    I don't know too much about golf and what makes a good golf course, but what a course this is!

    The Chambers Bay Golf Course was one of several area attractions built in the old gravel mining pit when Pierce County took over the land for use as public recreation facilities. Currently, there is only one tree anywhere near the golf course, but don't let that fool you: there are a lot of scrub grass clumps along the course, and the various hills here and there create a fairly significant sand-trap obstacle should you get too far off course.

    The web site has a host of information, including various information from the course designer, a hole by hole summary of the course, and quite a lot of other information.

    Each hole is named. For example, hole 16 along the water is named "Beached" and hole 13 is called "Eagle Eye".

    There are spectacular views here on a clear day, and off in the distance it is possible to see the Olympic Mountains. Unfortunately, they don't show up in digital photos too well except at sunrise and sunset as snow capped mountains tend to blend into the sky at that distance with many digital camera sensors. Just try to imagine a line of snow capped mountains in the distance across the water!

    Restrooms are scattered through the course, but it isn't obvious: in many cases they are obscured by the scattered piles of gravel that separate the various holes. This leaves the entire course free of artificial clutter but it also means paying close attention to your surroundings in order to find them.

    How to Get Here: Please see my general Chambers Bay tip, which is located at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/204854/
    as it is somewhat complicated.

    Related to:
    • Golf

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    Seafoam Pavilion (art: part of Bridge of Glass)

    by glabah Updated Apr 4, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Seafoam Pavilion section of Bridge of Glass
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    As with the Venetian Wall section of the Bridge of Glass, the Seafoam Pavilion section provides an attractive alternative to the ugly fences and walls that are usually put on pedestrian walkways over highways and railroad lines.

    However, unlike the Venetian Wall, the Seafoam Pavilion section puts the display case on the ceiling of the bridge, directly above the visitors. Also, unlike the Venetian Wall section of the bridge, the glass artwork here is all tumbled together, as though it has been afloat on the ocean for quite some time.

    The artwork is wonderful, but it is much harder to view from underneath like this.

    The back lighting provides great views of the colors of the art, and the intermixing of the pieces creates an unusual collage of colors, depending on the angle at which they are viewed.

    As the Seafoam Pavilian is part of the Bridge of Glass, you can find out a little bit more on my Bridge of Glass tip. The web site listed below is from the artist that created the artwork for the bridge, and there is considerably more interesting information there, as well as some great photographs.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture

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    Tacoma Union Station: Glass Artwork Compliments

    by glabah Updated Apr 4, 2011
    Tacoma Union Station is now a Federal Courthouse
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    When Interstate 705 was built along the east side of Tacoma's business district, Tacoma Union Station was separated from the railroad line, and thus the station could no longer serve the needs of moving people by train. As train travel had severely diminished anyway, the thought was that all the needs could be handled by a small brick shack of a station on the north side of Tacoma's industrial area.

    After the train traffic moved out, Tacoma Union Station became several different things, including the main waiting room and office building being converted to a federal courthouse.

    The vast majority of the courthouse is closed to the public, but the main entryway of the courthouse is open to the public, and contains several large glass artworks by Dale Chihuly, who is a famous glass artist and a Tacoma native (though he currently lives near Seattle's Lake Union). Photography is allowed in the main courthouse entryway, but you must go through security and prove your identity in order to get inside. It is also forbidden to take photographs of the guards or security procedures.

    In many cases, modern artworks added to classical buildings (and take note that Tacoma Union Station is a wonderful example of classical artwork in and of itself) do not really work that well together. However, in the case of Tacoma Union Station (now the Federal Courthouse) I find that the artworks really compliment the classical station and its grand windows.

    The artist's statement is on the web site below, and please explore that web site to see more of the wonderful photographs and samples of his artwork.

    How To Get Here:

    The station is right next to downtown Tacoma, and is served by a number of regional bus routes, including SoundTransit express buses from Seattle and almost any Pierce Transit bus route that goes to downtown Tacoma. The Tacoma LINK streetcar also goes right past the station. Sadly, long distance trains no longer stop anywhere near the station, but instead at the brick shack of a station constructed in an industrial area east of Freighthouse Square. There are scattered parking areas around the building, but your best bet is probably to park in the Tacoma Dome Station operated by SoundTransit and use the Tacoma LINK streetcar to get here.

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    • Arts and Culture

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    War Memorial Park

    by glabah Written Sep 28, 2010
    sheltered monumnet wall at War Memorial Park
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    Tacoma seems to be very skilled at making do with what resources it has, and its War Memorial Park is no exception. This park has been set aside as a "living memorial" (as opposed to, say, a paved plaza or other "dead" memorial as you will find in many other places). Thus, colorful plant life is a prominant feature here, though there are paved walkways through the memorial.

    The original park was built in 1952, but when the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge was to be built, War Memorial Park stood in the way of the widened road. It was moved to the current site as part of the construction process, but many of the memorials in the park were originally placed in the old War Memorial Park of 1952. The dedication ceremony for War Memorial Park, in its new location, was May 13, 2006.

    The park's location appears to have started life as the original roadway leading to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It is a nice, gradual, sloping curve between the intersection of Skyline Drive and N 6th Avenue and the interchange between N Jackson Avenue and the last exit of Highway 16 before it crosses the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

    Tacoma has done very well in converting what appears would have become an otherwise unused piece of land into an attractive memorial to those who lost their lives in defense of their country during World War II. It has also done quite good at making the park appear to have been planned from the start to be at this location, rather than have been relocated from its original spot.

    From the 6th and Skyline area, it is not easy to see the park, as the park and ride lot that has been build at the top side of that intersection obscures the visibility of the park from the top of the hill. However, continue down the hill through the park and ride lot, and eventually you will reach a small sheltered memorial, which is the start of the park. This sheltered memorial features a little bit of history about the park, plus some information about those it honors, and a ship's bell.

    As you continue down the hill, there are smaller memorials on each side of the flattened graded way, with a small paved walkway on each side of this large smooth way. Some of these smaller memorials are for specific ships that had special ties to Tacoma and the surrounding area, or other such special connections to Tacoma.

    Beyond these, on the edges of the cut, there are dense trees that provide a separation from the surrounding city and provide yet more life to the "living memorial".

    At the bottom of the sloping graded way the graded way becomes much wider, and there is a flag pole, a general monument stone, and several layers of flower beds. On the east side, there are wild Pacific Northwest native roses, which bloom for a very long season (yes, there were fair number of blooms even in September), while the main part of the memorial appears to be planted in flowers that give the patriotic red, white and blue near the base of the flag pole.

    The last distance between the last row of flowers and the huge, busy interchange of Jackson and Highway 16 is open and relatively wild grass, which creates somewhat of a barrier between what should be a peaceful place of contemplation and the busyness of the highway traffic.

    How to Get Here: Highway 16 to the Jackson Street Exit (the last exit west before the Tacoma Narrows Bridge), then south to 6ht Avenue, and east to Skyline Drive. The bus stop at the park and ride lot at the top of the hill above the park is served by Pierce Transit bus routes 100 (the local that crosses the Tacoma Narrows Bridge) and 601 (an express across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge) and SoundTransit express bus 595. Several other bus routes, including the frequently operating Pierce Transit route 1, are reasonably close as well.

    Web Site: The park is owned and operated by the City of Tacoma, not Metro Parks Tacoma, but I've not been able to find any information about this park on their web site.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel

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    Chambers Bay: The Newly Accessible Beach

    by glabah Updated Sep 27, 2010
    huge driftwood along Puget Sound at Chambers Bay
    2 more images

    This is part of the series of tips about Pierce County's Chambers Bay Facility, which contains a huge number of different features. My main tourist tip about this facility is located at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/204854/
    and there are links from there to the various tips that discuss the sub-pieces of this wonderful park, golf course, trail, beach, and educational facility.

    Until September 16, 2010 it was not possible to access the beach along Chambers Bay park, as access was blocked due to the railroad line. On September 16, 2010 the new North Dock Overpass was opened to the public, and people could, for the first time in well over 100 years, access the beach.

    This is a lot less interesting than it may sound, however, as the beach here is mostly rocks, like many of the beaches in Puget Sound. There are significant mud flats that open up during the low tide (and be sure to check the tide table if you go out there, as you don't want to get into a situation that you can't get yourself out of!).

    Even so, it is a popular location to visit for now, and maybe at some point the novelty will wear off, though it is somewhat doubtful considering the limited beach access around Tacoma.

    Tides changes here can be in the 14 to 17 foot range, so be sure to check the tide tables and don't get yourself trapped out in the middle of Puget Sound on the mud flats without a plan to get back.

    One section of the beach south of the pedestrian bridge has been designated an off-leash dog area, so that those with dogs can enjoy Puget Sound as well.

    How to Get Here: Please see my general Chambers Bay tip, which is located at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/204854/
    as it is somewhat complicated.

    Related to:
    • Travel with Pets
    • Beaches

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    Chambers Bay: Central Meadow

    by glabah Updated Sep 27, 2010
    Chambers Creek: huge Central Meadow is open space
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    This is part of the series of tips about Pierce County's Chambers Bay Facility, which contains a huge number of different features. My main tourist tip about this facility is located at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/204854/
    and there are links from there to the various tips that discuss the sub-pieces of this wonderful park, golf course, trail, beach, and educational facility.

    The Central Meadow of the Chambers Bay Properties park is almost entirely open grass for enjoying whatever you want to enjoy doing in open grass. On a good day this could mean picnicing, or maybe kite flying (the winds here are fairly decent most of the time), or even any of a number of games.

    The meadow is an open invitation to just get out and enjoy the outdoors.

    The huge pillared structure at the west end of the meadow was once part of the support structure for the conveyor belt system for the gravel pit. It has been preserved as part of the regional history of the park, and makes for an interesting conversation piece (albeit a very very huge one).

    How to Get Here: Please see my general Chambers Bay tip, which is located at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/204854/
    as it is somewhat complicated.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Family Travel

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    Chambers Bay: North Dock Overpass

    by glabah Updated Sep 27, 2010
    North Dock Overpass popular on warm Sept 25, 2010
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    This is part of the series of tips about Pierce County's Chambers Bay Facility, which contains a huge number of different features. My main tourist tip about this facility is located at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/204854/
    and there are links from there to the various tips that discuss the sub-pieces of this wonderful park, golf course, trail, beach, and educational facility.

    On September 16, 2010 the new pedestrian bridge connecting the Chambers Creek Park and other facilities to the beach was opened to the public in a fairly typical western Washington cold and wet day.

    The construction of this bridge over the railroad main line opens an entire section of Puget Sound beach that has been closed to public access for over 100 years. The section of beach that can now be accessed from Chambers Bay is approximately 2.5 miles in length, though that depends a bit on the tides.

    The bridge features an observation deck that overlooks the water and two staircases that drop down to beach level. The summit of the bridge is some 24 feet above the railroad line. The current structure is some 900 feet in length, and cost $3.8 million to build. $3.15 million of that came from state grants and approximately $650,000 of it came from the county sewer utility.

    There are eventual plans for the structure to be extended out into Puget Sound where it will connect a floating dock with the park, and the decayed industrial dock will be removed. However, for now the structure provides an important link between the beach and the popular park facilitiy on the other side of the tracks, plus a view point at the end of the walkway.

    Pierce County hopes to have historical and directional signs installed on the bridge at some point in the future.

    How to Get Here: Please see my general Chambers Bay tip, which is located at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/204854/
    as it is somewhat complicated.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Beaches

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    Chambers Bay: Grandview Trail

    by glabah Updated Sep 27, 2010
    Grandview Trail at concrete bench / picnic area
    2 more images

    This is part of the series of tips about Pierce County's Chambers Bay Facility, which contains a huge number of different features. My main tourist tip about this facility is located at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/204854/
    and there are links from there to the various tips that discuss the sub-pieces of this wonderful park, golf course, trail, beach, and educational facility.

    As with the Sound View Trail, the Grandview Trail is paved for its entire length for bicyclists, and runs along the top edge of the Chambers Bay property. This trail provides views above the golf course, and all the way out to the hills that mark the beginning of the coast range many miles away.

    As the naming separation of this trail puts it in the part of the loop around the park facility that is completely level at the top of the hill. There is a restroom facility at the far northeast corner of the trail, and at the southern end of the park hiddin in the forest past the Environmental Services building.

    There are several concrete observation areas that make good benches for having a picnic lunch overlooking Puget Sound. However, I would suggest bringing a soft pad of some sort to sit on, as they do get hard after a while.

    How to Get Here: Please see my general Chambers Bay tip, which is located at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/204854/
    as it is somewhat complicated.

    Related to:
    • Cycling
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Photography

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    Chambers Bay: Sound View Loop Trail

    by glabah Updated Sep 27, 2010
    Puget Sound and Soundview Trail
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    This is part of the series of tips about Pierce County's Chambers Bay Facility, which contains a huge number of different features. My main tourist tip about this facility is located at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/204854/
    and there are links from there to the various tips that discuss the sub-pieces of this wonderful park, golf course, trail, beach, and educational facility.

    There is a paved loop trail that completely encircles the Chambers Bay Golf Course, and provides spectacular views of Puget Sound, and naturally is thus called the "Soundview Trail" for these vantage points. This is a popular walking and biking trail, does not have any significant road crossings other than the various local interior park roads, and is a fairly good recreational pathway. This path has been separated into two separate sections for reference purposes: the Sound View Trail, which starts and ends with steep hills, and the Grandview Trail, which runs along the top of the hillside.

    This means that the Sound View Trail starts and ends with very steep hills that run between the trail at the top of the hill and the section of the trail that runs along the base of the hill. Even in locations where switchbacks have been used to lessen the incline, the hill is very steep. Many people, even very fit bicyclists by all appearances, can be seen walking their bikes up these spectacular hills. They are steeper than 10% in places.

    The trail is separated from the golf course for most of its length, but the section of the trail that runs along the water at the bottom of the hill runs through the last several golf course holes. It is separated from the holes by the shape of the land, but there is still some risk of being hit by stray golf balls if you walk through here. There are signs posted letting visitors know that they walk there at their own risk.

    There is one restroom facility and a drinking fountain along the length of the trail, at the bottom of the hill near the "Central Meadow" of the lower park.

    The trail connects at both ends to the section of trail that is called the "Grand View Trail" which completes the loop around the entire Chambers Creek Golf Course, with the complete loop being 3.25 miles (5.42km) in length.

    How to Get Here: Please see my general Chambers Bay tip, which is located at
    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/204854/
    as it is somewhat complicated.

    Related to:
    • Cycling
    • Photography
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Chambers Bay: Trail, Beach, Park and Golf Course

    by glabah Updated Sep 27, 2010
    Observation Platform, Walkway & Olympic Mountains
    4 more images

    For safety reasons there are several things I must mention about this park first off: Pierce County has been relentless about warning visitors about the three Ts: Trash, Trains and Tides.

    Trash: If you brought it in, please take it back out. There are trash cans in the park, but the wildlife in Puget Sound is still having a lot of trouble with the trash that people throw into the water. If the region were a pile of trash, would you want to come visit it?

    Trains: This park runs right next to a fairly busy (60 trains or so per day) railroad line, and the edge of the hill hides the noise. Don't go wandering out onto the track. Despite many, many warnings there are several people killed each year who manage to get across the fences and onto the tracks, and get hit.

    Tides: Perhaps the largest of dangers for those unfamiliar with the area: tides here can be huge, and in fact there are several days in which there is a 16 foot (4.9 meter) difference between high and low tide. 14 feet (4.3 meters) is fairly common. There is a huge area of Puget Sound that is exposed during this tide fluctuation, and if you don't pay attention it is really easy to get too far from land, and suddenly realize the water is coming in much too fast for you to make it back to safety.

    That said, we can now introduce you to the Chambers Bay properties owned by Pierce County:

    There a a number of different features of this park facility on the west side of the Point Defiance Peninsula. There is:

    + a golf course with interesting challenges and no trees.

    + a wide open space of grass that thanks to the wind is a decent place for kite flying, and is useful for a number of activities, yet has reminders of the industrial past at this site. This is referred to as the Central Meadow.

    + a beach that has been unavailable for the public to use until September 16, 2010, when a foot bridge was completed between the park and the beach over the railroad line.

    + a walking and bike trail that forms a loop around the entire park, but for the purposes of construction has been divided into two named sections called the Sound View Trail and the Grandview Trail. Along these trails there are some concrete shelf benches that provide great views of the southern end of Puget Sound, several islands, and occasionally the Olympic Mountains off in the distance. From the right angle, it is possible to catch the edge of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge as well.

    + Two off-leash dog areas, one of them a fenced area by the "Central Meadow" and the other a beach-front area.

    The facility is owned and operated by Pierce County, though the Pierce County web site is a little obscure when mentioning this wonderful facility.

    The site has a long history of industrial development, starting in the 1850s with small timber operations, grist mills and the like. A series of gravel mining operations started at the site a very long time ago, with at least one of the remaining structures dating from 1949 and the Pioneer Sand and Gravel years. Pierce County purchased the side for various reasons in 1992 for some $2 million, but gravel mining continued at the site for another 10 years. On December 31, 2002, industrial operations stopped and Pierce County moved in with big plans for the site.

    The golf course and Sound View Trail opened in 2007, and 2008 saw the opening of the Central Meadow.

    Official Address: 6320 Grandview Dr W, University Place, WA

    How to Get Here: From Interstate 5, it is possible to take the DuPont exit (#119), turn north, and make an immediate right turn onto Steilacoom Road. The way to Chambers Bay is marked with small white signs that even give the mileage remaining until you arrive at the park's entrance. This method involves driving on a number of local roads and several turns that defy easy description here, including one just before the Anderson Island Ferry.

    It is also possible to take Lakewood Exit # 125, head north on Bridgeport Way SW, and after a considerable distance turn left onto Chambers Creek Road. The road will make a sharp right turn and change names to 99th Avenue West, and the entrance to the park is right in that area.

    Getting here by public transit is a bit more challenging. Bridgeport Way has frequent service from Pierce Transit bus route #2, but that is fairly far east of the park. Route 53A is slightly north of the park, and while the service isn't as frequent it does get you a little closer to the north edge of the park at 40th Street West and Grandview.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Golf
    • Cycling

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