The “Go To” hiking in the Seattle/Tacoma area is Mount Rainer. There are great trails there and the sights are truly amazing. However, it is a long drive to get to these trails and I wanted to check out some of the local trails.
The Sequalitchew Creek Trail is in the small town of DuPont, right across I-5 from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. This is a short trail, (3-mile round trip). The transition from urban to forest and back provides a great distraction from the buzz of urban life.
From the City Hall parking lot, I followed a little trail down through a forested canyon for about one and a half miles. I searched for and discovered several geocaches along the trail. The cool green tunnel was welcome respite on a hot day. At the end of the trail, there is a pebbled beach where there are old rail lines. I took a break for lunch and relaxed while watching the boat traffic in the Tacoma Narrows. Further out on the horizon, I saw some great views of Puget Sound and the mountains beyond.
Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
The Nisqually River Delta, a biologically rich and diverse area at the southern end of Puget Sound, supports a variety of habitats. Here, the freshwater of the Nisqually River combines with the saltwater of Puget Sound to form an estuary rich in nutrients and detritus. These nutrients support a web of sea life – the benefits which extend throughout Puget Sound and beyond.
The Refuge is located eight miles east of Olympia and has four miles of trails. The one–mile accessible Twin Barns Loop Trail is open year round. The Nisqually Estuary Trail is four-mile round trip from the Visitor Center. A portion of this trail is closed seasonally during the waterfowl hunting season. The trails provide views of wildlife habitats and access to observation platforms, a tower, and blind.
Our daughter, Elisabeth, has been out here before and she took Pat and me along to show us the sights. A lot of this refuge is reclaimed land formed when dams and levees were built to create a rich farmland. Eventually the farm failed as a result of many factors and the National Wildlife Refuge was established. Although the visitor center was closed due to the pandemic, the trails were open. The tidal area had a lot of wading birds as well as other wildlife.
I hiked the Outer Loop Trail (4.3 miles). This is the longest trail in the park. I wanted to try out a new backpack and thought this would be a good shakedown for it. The trail is well established and well marked. This trail is used by many walkers, hikers, and runners. Even though it is located in north Tacoma it has the same feeling of many of the trails at Mount Rainer. The views across the Tacoma Narrows are scenic. The deer in the area are very used to people and did not dart off into the trees when I happened across them.
Point Defiance is also home to the Point Defiance Zoo and the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum. The original Fort Nisqually was located in nearby DuPont, home to the Sequalitchew Creek Trail. This replica was built in the 1930’s by the Work Progress Administration (WPA) as a part of the larger Point Defiance Park. The fort is staffed with re-enactors that demonstrate living in the frontier Pacific Northwest.