You’d think after almost twenty years of exploring around and about my part of western Washington, I would have found every good walking trail in a fifty-mile radius, but Clark’s Creek Park (named, I assume, like everything else in the Pacific Northwest with that moniker, after the co-captain of the Corps of Discovery), less than four miles from my house, somehow managed to escape my attention until this week.
I was checking out the back way to the Puyallup Fairgrounds. We’ll be driving there for the fair this September, because the local busses won’t be running fair specials for the first time this year due to budget cuts. Which didn’t need to happen, but I won’t get into local politics here.
Anyway, while checking the map (paper maps rule, in my not so humble opinion, and this sort of thing is one reason why — had I just plunked locations into a GPS I’d have missed this park altogether) I happened to notice a green sort-of rectangle that hadn’t come to my attention before, so I decided to check it out. It turned out to be a very good idea.
Clark’s Creek Park is a chunk of, well, probably not old-growth, but forest, at any rate, mostly big-leafed maples which are going to be spectacularly gold in a couple of months, plunked down on the western side of Puyallup. There’s a creek, obviously, that’s really more the size of a river flowing through as well. The park contains the usual amenities, a ballfield, lawns, tennis courts, two sets of play equipment (one at each end) and one of the most secluded and beautifully-set off-leash areas, or bark parks as my sister calls them, I’ve ever seen.
In between the two developed areas, trails run through the woods and along the creek. The woods this time of year, and because we haven’t had any rain here in forty days (we set the driest August on record this year, not a drop of rain at the airport), are at that stage where they’re just waiting for fall. Leaves are leathery, and the undergrowth looks parched. But wildflowers, jewelweed and clover and a pink finger-shaped cluster of tiny blossoms that wasn’t in any of my flower books, but turns out to be a noxious critter called knotweed, were still quite abundant, as were the roses planted along the street.
The weather has been darned near perfect here lately, sunny and low 70sF with very little humidity day after day, although the light and air are beginning to feel like autumn. So it was a wonderful day for exploration. The trails seem to total out to about a mile, and comprise two loops, one along the creek, across a bridge, and back up on what appears to be a small island, to a bridge at the other end where the trail started, and the other a rough loop running through the woods between the two developed parts of the park and past the tennis courts and bark park. Both are really lovely, and more secluded than I would have expected given how close the park is to downtown Puyallup.
No matter how long I live here in the Pacific Northwest, the area is still capable of surprising me with places I’ve somehow missed up till now. It’s one of my favorite things about living here. What’s your favorite thing about living where you are?