The Joint Base Lewis-McChord area offers many great options for your fall weekends! Whether you want a peaceful hike, a challenging workout, or a family outing, here are five ideas, all within 30 minutes of the base.
Spend the day at Point Defiance Park
This giant park, the jewel of Tacoma, has so many things to do that you could visit several weekends in a row and never get bored.
If you come to exercise, there are numerous trails for hiking, jogging, and cycling. The park has several shaded trails through the old growth forest, and they range from 1.3 miles to 4.6 miles. Five Mile Drive, a paved one-way road that loops around the park, is a great place to cycle, especially during the hours when it’s closed to vehicle traffic (check the Metro Parks Tacoma website for the current schedule).
Point Defiance Park also has a zoo, an aquarium, a small beach, numerous beautiful gardens, and a marina. With both indoor and outdoor activities, it’s the perfect place to take the kids.
Dine, shop, and stroll at the Ruston Way Waterfront
Just southeast of Point Defiance Park is the recently-developed Ruston Way Waterfront, which is full of restaurants, and shops along with playgrounds for kids and a 2-mile paved trail. This is the new “place to be” on weekends in Tacoma, and it’s buzzing with activity.
Don’t forget your camera – you can snap some incredible pictures of Mt. Rainier, Puget Sound, and the Olympic mountains.
Bring the kids to a pumpkin patch
You can find many great pumpkin patches in the rural areas near JBLM. Most are operational through the month of October and offer attractions such as corn mazes, hay rides, “pumpkin slingshot,” farm animals, and of course, plenty of pumpkins!
Have a picnic at Chambers Creek Regional Park
This park, formerly the site of a gravel mine, has some of the area’s most incredible panoramic views of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountain range. Enjoy a picnic on the wide stretches of lawn and take pictures on the pedestrian overpass that provides access to the beach.
The recreation trails throughout the park are popular with walkers, runners, and cyclists. The outermost loop is about 3 miles. Bring plenty of water and good shoes – this trail has some steep grades!
Explore Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
This refuge in Olympia is located at the Nisqually River Delta where the river meets Puget Sound. It has more than 300 species of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, and amphibians.
Start at the Visitor Center to learn about the area and check out their exhibits. Then, enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography on their 4 miles of walking trails. You may get lucky and see whales!
You can also explore the waters outside the Sanctuary Area by boat. While the refuge does not have boats available for rent, you can rent a canoe or kayak from Adventure Unlimited on JBLM and launch from Luhr Beach, which is just west of Nisqually Wildlife Refuge and has a public boat ramp.