Point Defiance Park: Part I

After church recently, we were looking for somewhere to go nearby that would afford us an easy hike to take our daughter on, while still giving us a bit of a workout and enjoy the nice weather we’ve been having.

So, along with what seemed like the rest of Tacoma, we headed to Point Defiance Park.

Trail map at Point Defiance Park courtesy of Tacoma Metro Parks. We spent this day on the Outer Loop Trail on the western side of the park, between Fort Nisqually and the Gig Harbor viewpoint.
Trail map at Point Defiance Park courtesy of Tacoma Metro Parks. We spent this day on the Outer Loop Trail on the western side of the park, between Fort Nisqually and the Narrows viewpoint.

Point Defiance is on a point in North Tacoma and is easily one of our favorite places in the world.

After entering from busy Pearl Street, you are transported into an old growth forest with miles of hiking trails, a stunning beach, multiple gardens, a dog park, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, a zoo (boo), an aquarium, a Washington State ferry dock, and many stunning viewpoints along Five Mile Drive.

The views of the Tacoma Narrows from high on the bluffs in Point Defiance Park are stunning.
The views of the Tacoma Narrows from high on the bluffs in Point Defiance Park are stunning.

For this quick trip, though, we tooled along Five Mile, eventually parking at Fort Nisqually and heading downhill for a meandering walk on the Outer Loop Trail through the beautiful forests on the west side of the park.

The stretch of the Outer Loop Trail we hiked recently was mainly a wondrous stretch through forests made up of a variety of trees.
The stretch of the Outer Loop Trail we hiked recently was mainly a wondrous stretch through forests made up of a variety of trees.

There were plenty of other people on the trail this day, though we’ve also been to this part in the fall and not seen anyone. Enjoy sweeping views of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Gig Harbor and the Puget Sound in general as you take the path to a pair of viewpoints. There is one section where the trail hugs an extremely tall bluff – watch your step in this area, and keep your children close by. If you don’t feel like risking this part of the trail, you can easily reach Five Mile Drive and go around the open bluff area before returning to the Outer Loop Trail for safe hiking.

Enjoy the scenery, but be careful not to stumble off to the side in this section of the Outer Loop Trail. It is a long fall to the beach below.
Enjoy the scenery, but be careful not to stumble off to the side in this section of the Outer Loop Trail. It is a long fall to the beach below.

Mostly, though, just enjoy walking through the forest, listening to the birds calling out to each other and the bees buzzing in and out of the woods. There are a variety of trees in this forest, and it is fun to try and identify them all. We even heard an owl at one point.

The old growth forest in Point Defiance Park provides many stunning images. Looking toward the sky is just one.
The old growth forest in Point Defiance Park provides many stunning images. Looking toward the sky is just one.

We figured we walked about a mile or so, and tried to go quickly on the uphill portion to create a bit of a workout. Our daughter had her most fun picking up sticks – it’s a stage, roll with it – and just walking down the trail.

Catarina walked for awhile, but we had just come out of the open cliff section where we decided to carry her rather than risk her squirming away from us and falling off.
Catarina walked for awhile, but we had just come out of the open cliff section where we decided to carry her rather than risk her squirming away from us and falling off.

We’re hoping to walk the entire Outer Loop Trail later this summer, though five miles seems a bit daunting with a rambunctious toddler in tow. There are three trails that are signed, and plenty of connections that you can use to make a longer or shorter day trip.

Used a red filter to try and get a bit of definition on the Olympic Mountains floating above Gig Harbor.
Used a red filter to try and get a bit of definition on the Olympic Mountains floating above Gig Harbor.

– Craig Craker

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