HIKE DESCRIPTION: Maybe it’s a myth that folks from the Gig Harbor area have stronger legs than the rest of the South Sound, but if it’s true, the Cushman Trail will show you why.
The Gig Harbor area has long been an ideal destination for area cyclists looking to pack a ride full of hills. The Cushman Trail is a paved community trail in that Gig Harbor tradition. It’s not flat like most of Western Washington’s gently graded community trails.
How hilly is it? A roundtrip between the trailheads on 14th Avenue Northwest and Borgen Boulevard, for example, climbs nearly twice as many veritcal feet as a round trip on the Foothills Trail (Puyallup to South Prairie), even though it’s less than half the distance.
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At some points, the Cushman Trail has a grade of 10 percent.
If you haven’t walked, biked or skated the Cushman Trail in the last year, it’s a little longer now. On May 1, the City of Gig Habor dedicated a new 1-mile section of the trail and the Borgen Boulevard trailhead.
Hilly as the trail may be, it is used by wide range of people. Hand rails and benches are found at many spots along the trail.
DIRECTIONS: To reach the 14th Avenue Northwest trailhead, take the 24th Street Northwest exit from state Route 16 and turn east. In a block, turn left on 14th Avenue and drive north for half a mile. The trailhead will be on the left.
DIFFICULTY RATING: 3 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
MILES ROUND TRIP: 12.4.
ELEVATION GAIN: 800 feet.
BEST TIME OF THE YEAR: Year round.
ALSO: For cyclists, the trail can easily be linked with Tacoma’s Scott Pierson Trail, which adds a scenic trip over the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge. From the 14th Street trailhead, head south to 24th Street. Turn right and find the Pierson trail on your left after crossing state Route 16. There is no toll for crossing the bridge by bike. The trail is 16 feet wide with 4-foot gravel shoulders. There are five restrooms along the trail. A running store (Route 16 Running and Walking) and bike shop (Old Town Bicycle) are located near the trail on Kimball Drive. Dogs are permitted on the trail, but must be on leashes and cleaned up after. Several geocaches are hidden along the trail.