Trail is next phase of fulfilling Chambers Creek promise

With completion of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay Golf Course earlier this month, Pierce County realized a huge part of what was hoped for when master site planning began on the huge Chambers Creek Properties in the mid-1990s.

Acquiring the old Lone Star gravel pit enabled development of the world-class golf course as well as other public amenities, such as a much-used walking trail around the course and a bridge over the railroad tracks for beach access.

Those improvements needed to be made first to build public support for developing the 900-acre property. But now it’s time to catch up on the other part of the site’s promise: connecting, lengthening and improving the existing rustic trails along Chambers Creek that locals have been hiking for many years.

Shrouded in a dense canopy of trees, the canyon trail won’t be nearly as visible as the amenities overlooking Puget Sound, but it will provide the quiet, contemplative yin to their more public yang.

People disinclined to share a paved, exposed walkway — with a sharply steep section, to boot — might prefer the shaded, more gently sloped canyon trail that shares space with deer, foxes, herons and eagles.

Although Pierce County owns most of the land for the proposed Chambers Creek Canyon trail, the property lies within two municipalities. The 2.5-mile trail will begin in Lakewood and end in University Place, at the Kobayashi Park in University Place — just across Bridgeport Way from a Fred Meyer store.

Nature lovers will be able to walk between the University Place trailhead along Chambers Creek and the trailhead just south of the bridge along the creek. Plans are to build a boardwalk over some of the more sensitive spots as well as a pedestrian bridge. This will be a great addition to the area’s parks and trails.

Nothing is a done deal. There’s plenty of heavy lifting yet to be done: It will cost about $75,000 — split three ways among the county and the two cities — to hire a consultant, map out the trail route and come up with a preliminary cost estimate for actually completing the trail.

Funding sources that have been available in the past have tightened up, so the partners might have to get creative. And getting the public involved is important, not only in building support but also for volunteering.

Anyone interested in helping create a lovely new addition to the area’s scenic portfolio is encouraged to participate when discussions begin in mid-July.