Point Defiance Park and Five Mile Drive
I think one of the best parts of Tacoma is Point Defiance Park. Located right on the water, the 702-acre park offers incredible views and a chance to enjoy the great outdoors right in the heart of town. With trails winding in the forest, along the beach, and through gardens, it’s one of my favorite parks in the region.
My favorite part of Point Defiance Park (5400 N. Pearl St.) is Five Mile Drive. The (you guessed it) five miles of paved roads wind through an old growth forest and offer incredible views of Puget Sound, the Cascades (including Mount Rainier), the Olympic Mountains, Vashon Island, Gig Harbor, Tacoma Narrows and the Narrows Bridge. Tim and I recently cruised along Five Mile Drive and stopped at all the vistas. My favorite was the view of the Narrows Bridge, while Tim really liked the Dalco Passage viewpoint. The road is actually closed to cars on Saturdays and Sundays until 1 PM. This allows people to run, walk and bike along the scenic route without traffic.
Point Defiance Park and Five Mile Drive is also home to many animals. While on our recent trip to the park, we spotted a group of raccoons crossing the road. It’s not often you spot raccoons in the middle of the day, so checking out the little critters during daylight hours was pretty neat. We also spotted a bald eagle dive from a tree to the water and fly back up to the tree. It happened so quickly that Tim and couldn’t tell for sure if the eagle caught a fish, but we assume it did. We also saw plenty of seals swimming out in the water along the trek.
In addition to Five Mile Drive, there are a number of trails for walkers and hikers only at Point Defiance Park. The more popular trails include Spine Trail (1.3 miles one way/2.6 miles round trip) which takes you from the Rhododendron Garden to the Gig Harbor Viewpoint; Square Trail (4.6 miles) which is the outer loop trail in the park; Triangle Trail (3.3 miles) which is the inner loop; Rhododendron Garden Loop (.52 miles) which is located just 215 feet from the main road; and the Promenade from Owen Beach to the marina (.79 miles one way). Click here to view a map of the trails.
Point Defiance Park has more than just some great trails. There are also several gardens including a Japanese Garden, a Rose Garden and a Northwest Native Garden. Tim’s mom and I visited the Rose Garden over the summer and it was incredible. I’ve never see so many beautiful and unique roses in my life. The park also has go-karts, batting cages, miniature golf, a zoo and an aquarium. While the walking trails and hikes are free, the other activities do come at a cost.
You could spend the entire day at Point Defiance Park and still not have enough time to experience everything it has to offer. It doesn’t really matter how much time you have, you just need to get there. Nothing beats spending time outdoors, especially at Point Defiance Park.
Have you ever visited Point Defiance Park and enjoyed Five Mile Drive? What is your favorite part of the park? We’d love to hear from you, especially if you have other cool trail suggestions. Please leave your comments below or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out Seattle Bloggers for more fun activities around Western Washington!