Pt. Defiance – Inner Loop (yellow) trail
Take a stroll among true old growth forest in an urban setting – you won’t get this experience most anywhere in the region unless you travel to the national parks. The inner loop trail (aka yellow trail – named due to the color coding system assigned to the major trail loops at the park – see map below) is a 3.6 mile loop in the interior of the park’s peninsula. Start at the trail’s first intersection with the Five Mile Drive road (after Owen’s Beach turn off) – Along the way, you’ll admire the Douglas Fir and Western Hemlock’s that pre-date Tacoma’s establishment and a forested area almost totally-free of invasive plants that plague other urban parks – a true testament to the park’s truly preserved state.
At 1.1 miles, take a short turn off spur path to the Dalco Passage view point. Amazing, sweeping views of the passage and the Gig Harbor area abound.
Return back to the trail and head west along the path. At trail intersections, the Park District has posted color coded trail ‘blaze’ markers that keep you on track – follow the direction arrows on the yellow triangles. The next vantage point includes a two stops for views of the Narrows and the pair of bridges that connect Tacoma to the Kitsap Peninsula and Gig Harbor, and on to the Olympic Peninsula. The first stop is at 1.5 miles, the final stop is at 2.3 miles; if you make only one stop, make it the latter – the views at the second stop are more commanding. Marked crosswalks provide safe pedestrian access from the inner loop trail across the Five Mile Drive road.
Continue on to finish the loop – you pass the park’s rhododrendron park and picnic shelter – a nice stopping point before you finish up. The trail is relatively flat – gaining only 400′ across 3.6m – but will take the average hiker 1.5 hours to complete.
Tacoma (Metro Parks)
3.6 miles, roundtrip
Gain: 400 ft.
Highest Point: 280 ft.