Puget Creek Natural Area
Hike description: The lush green Puget Creek gulch is surrounded by busy streets and neighborhoods, but it gives visitors the sense that they are on a retreat much farther from civilization.
The green swath runs from near the Tacoma waterfront just past the Proctor Street bridge, near where visitors can find tiny Puget Park.
A walk through the gulch climbs gradually as you travel away from the waterfront. The sounds from surrounding streets aren’t escaped for long, so enjoy the trickling of the creek and the chirping of the birds. On a recent visit, we encountered three deer making their way along the green slopes near the bridge.
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The abundance of shade makes this trail a perfect destination for warm days.
Puget Park has a playground for kids and the Alder Way trailhead has a small picnic area with large tables stashed in the trees.
While the primary trail is wide and easy despite its gradual grade, getting from the trail to Puget Park requires climbing 176 steps up a narrower, switch-backing trail. A bench is located along the way should you need a rest.
The main trail, about .75 miles long, passes under the bridge decorated with graffiti, but ends when the corridor approaches private property. Visitors are reminded to avoid private property and to not trample the foliage.
A hike at Puget Creek can be easily extended with a walk on the waterfront.
Directions: Find trailheads at Puget Park on the corner of Proctor and North 31st streets and on Alder Way southwest of Ruston Way. Use the Alder Way trailhead if you’re looking to avoid the climb to Puget Park.
Difficulty rating: 2 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
Miles round trip: 1.9.
Elevation gain: 300 feet.
Best time of the year: Year-round.
Map: Maps are posted on kiosks at the official trailheads.
Also: The park is open a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset. According to Metro Parks’ 2012 management plan for the area, a raised boardwalk and improved ADA access are planned for the future. Surveying for the boardwalk was completed in 2015, according to the Metro Parks’ website. Dogs must be on leashes and cleaned up after. Several geocaches are located in and near the natural area. For information, see geocaching.com.