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Awesome Stroller-Friendly Trails for Tacoma and South Sound Families

These eight stroller-friendly walking trails are great for exercising with little ones

Published on: June 21, 2024

Mom jogs on a stroller-friendly trail near Seattle with her toddler and dog

Taking a walk on a stroller-friendly trail is one of the best ways I’ve found to get in my daily steps and a healthy dose of fresh air. But it’s easy to get into a rut (pun intended) when it comes to frequenting nearby trails and walking paths. I knew there had to be more in the Tacoma and South Sound areas, so I set out to find new walking trails to explore, toddler in tow.

For a path to be stroller friendly, there are a few things I keep in mind. In addition to being easy to navigate with wheels, these stroller paths have convenient parking and restrooms. Once you’re out the front door, the rest will be a breeze. As a bonus, you’ll also find many of these paths come with fully equipped playgrounds, play spaces or wide-open fields for when your little one wants to get out of the stroller and stretch their little legs.

Stroller-friendly walking trails near Tacoma and South Sound

1. Point Defiance Park, Tacoma

Location: 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma

In Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park, runners and walkers have access to a dizzying array of trails, both paved and unpaved, through the stunning old-growth forest (blessedly shady on sunny summer days). Drive around first to get acquainted and clock mileages for your run if you like. Toddler diversions include the top-notch zoo, rocky Owen Beach, a playground plus an adorable duck pond with a toddler-size bridge and island in the middle. And don’t miss the Dune Peninsula area with its epic slides!

2. Tacoma Nature Center, Tacoma

Location: 1919 S. Tyler St., Tacoma

Tacoma Nature Center’s terrific trail network is always popular with kids. While the paths are not paved, they are mostly hard-packed, so sturdy strollers will navigate them fine. The Discovery Pond playground will delight the tots, and you may spy a turtle or two in Snake Lake from your trailside vantage point. You can also sign up for a naturalist-led nature walk here, or with older kids, try out the Agents of Discovery app.

3. Nathan Chapman Memorial Trail, Puyallup

Location: 14201 86th Ave. E., Puyallup

This wide, paved trail connects South Hill Community Park and Heritage Recreation Center. It’s named for Sgt. Nathan Chapman, a Green Beret and Puyallup resident who was killed in Afghanistan in 2002. Covering the loop around South Hill Park plus out-and-back on the connector yields a run of about 3 miles. Find free parking, a play area and handy restrooms at South Hill Park.

4. Foothills Trail, Orting

Location: Orting Trailhead, Orting

You can park in downtown Orting, Central Park, or at the McMillin trailhead about 2.5 miles away (this makes a great out-and-back 5-miler). The paved, level recreation trail follows State Route 162, past elementary schools and playgrounds, ice cream shops and coffee shops. Stop in downtown Orting for a picnic and toddler time at the shady, colorful playground. Restrooms and parking are available.

5. Capitol Lake Trails, Olympia

Location: Capitol Lake, Olympia

Park your car at Heritage Park, adjacent to the State Capitol campus, or Marathon Park to complete a loop of Capitol Lake. Combine this with a visit to Tumwater Historical Park, just down Deschutes Way (there’s a shortcut to the park at the Capitol Lake Interpretive Center). Historical Park boasts a huge playground, a riverfront picnic area, parking and restrooms. The trails are paved and level. After your jog, head over to the East Bay for a bite to eat or a visit to Hands On Children’s Museum.

6. Percival Landing Park, Olympia

Location: 217 Thurston Ave. N.W., Olympia

Take a short but picturesque route along the Budd Bay wooden boardwalk (about 0.9 mile one way). Climb the viewing tower at Port Plaza, visit the Farmers Market, and stop halfway to run around at the playground or on the wide expanse of lawn. Toddlers love to gawk at the boats, some gargantuan and some more modest, docked in the marina. Clean restrooms (complete with a changing table) and ample parking are available.

7. Pioneer Park in Tumwater

Location: 5801 Henderson Blvd S.E., Tumwater

Beyond its expansive playground, this lovely park offers 1.5 miles of mixed-surface trails for running or walking. There’s also access to the Deschutes River and a beach, both nice areas for exploring with little ones.

8. Tolmie State Park, Olympia

Location: 7730 61st Ave. N.E., Olympia

Take your pick of distances: 1.25-mile, 0.75-mile and 0.25-mile loops, all unpaved and best for sturdy jogging strollers during brisk walks or runs. Forest and water views abound. Stop at the beach to explore tidal pools and have a picnic. A Discover Pass is required to park.

Make the most of your walk on a stroller-friendly path

After countless stroller walks with my little one, I have it down to a science. Here are my top tips for taking your baby or toddler on a stroller-friendly path.

  • Decide whether to play or stroll first. Sometimes going straight from the car into the stroller isn’t in the cards, and your little one will want to head to the playground first. Let them get their energy out and then strap them in for your walk or run. Other days, you may want to stroll first and play later.
  • Engage your toddler along the way. Just because they’re strapped in doesn’t mean they need to be bored. Play a game of “I spy” and have them look for different colors, objects, animals or plants.
  • Speed up or slow down. Take the opportunity to do some interval training by speeding up or slowing down at various points on the trail. I like to pick landmarks — like a telephone poll or bench — and alternate between walking and running between them.
  • Customize your workout. Stroller walks are a time for me to squeeze in a workout while my little one is secured in their stroller. Some days I walk, while others I go for a long run or take breaks for sit-ups and lunges.
  • Surprise your little one with stroller-only toys. There’s so much to see along stroller-friendly paths and trails, but it doesn’t hurt to keep some unique toys in your car for when your little one is getting restless (but you want to keep strolling).
  • Keep everything you need in the car. Sometimes, the hardest part is getting everything ready for your stroller walk. But if you keep the stroller, running shoes and other supplies in the trunk of your car, you’ll always be ready for action.
  • Invest in the right gear. If you’re planning to make a habit of walking, jogging or running with a stroller, you want to invest in a sturdier model. Look for a swiveling front wheel (that also locks) to make one-handed pushing and steering easier. And I need a water bottle holder and a large basket for toys, snacks and running gear. If you are planning for year-round stroller walks, you may also want a stroller rain shield (what my son refers to as his “space bubble”).

More paths and trails in Tacoma, South Sound and Seattle to explore

Editor’s note: This article was originally published several years ago and was updated most recently on June 14, 2024 by family fun editor Meredith Charaba. All the trail entries were fact-checked and the article was updated with helpful information for parents and caregivers.

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