Every day I feel like a very lucky person. That is because I live on the Sound! The Puget Sound is a series of waterways that are fed by the ocean and tidal in nature. There are roughly a hundred miles of inland coastline in the area of western Washington State, all considered part of the Sounds anatomy and all boasting incredible views and amazing places to live and play. As gas prices continue to rise I have been inspired to find places to explore that are closer to home, and check out some of the newer editions to the Sound’s many parks and recreation areas. On a recommendation of stunning scenery, a challenging set of hiking trails, and A-list fish and chips I proposed to my companion that we make the most of a surprise sunny afternoon and check out Chambers Creek Park.
We chose the perfect time to visit! The park is located right on the waterfront, just north of Steilacoom and west of Tacoma. In this area the sound is made up of wide channels with swift deep water, and high daunting cliffs that plummet to beach fronts below. The entrance to this park sits up on a cliff edge, and as you drive in a breathtaking sweeping vista welcomes visitors and beckons them to come play by the sea. On this day there was abundant sunshine with puffy white clouds floating high in the sky. Being spring this was something unusual, normally it would be raining. As we got out of the car however we were met with high winds. A reminder that even a sunny day can be a cool one when you are by the water.
As it turns out the park is adjacent to a golf course, the site of the 2015 US Open no less, and all of it part or the Chambers Creek Properties, an area that has a lot of history. Centuries ago the natives used the area as a summer fishing village. After the arrival of the Hudson Bay Company in the early 1800’s the area became designated towards industry, and for over a hundred years the site served mostly as gravel mine. It was not until the late 1990’s that a local utility company purchased the land and the process of reclaiming and restoring was put into motion. Giant concrete monoliths, remnants of the mining days, still dot the landscape and give off a foreboding air of an age of hard living gone by. But today the park hosts hikers, skateboarders, dog walkers, and even those wishing to go fly a kite.
Trails, paved and well kept, extend around the park, down the cliff, around the golf course and well beyond the park boundary. The Properties are a work in progress and plans to expand the area further are detailed on their website, along with a downloadable pdf map of all the trails. Large grassy fields at the base of the cliff invite people to play and picnic. And the trials dissect through them and lead all the way down to the waterfront, where one of two designated off leash areas sits. In this case “beach“ means a very rugged rocky and coarse sandy area with very strong water currents. So it would not be a real good place for swimming. But makes a phenomenal place for exploring or more picnicking, or even taking photos! Although rare, whales have been spotted here. Far more frequently are sightings of seals and seal pups, and of course bald eagles which are a daily occurrence here on the sound.
We took our time meandering down to the beach, snapping photos, people watching, beach combing, and just drinking in the day. The sunshine had drawn many people out but the park felt so large that the there was no sensation of “crowded”. As our hunger began to build we headed inland toward the cliff and began the incline on the promise of excellent food. It was a sufficiently strenuous climb but the picture perfect views, and all that healthy sea air really fed the soul. Not to mention a good walk like this was really going to work to justify the chips we were about to partake in. Even if you are not usually down for a good hike this one is worth it. The view alone is stunning.
By the time we reached the top we were breathless. We had worked up substantial appetites and wasted no time getting ourselves over to the restaurant. The Chambers Creek Grill did not disappoint. An outdoor eating area, cleverly surrounded in plexi-glass panes that block out the wind, sat waiting to be occupied. But it was just not quite warm enough for that yet. We settled for wind free panoramic views from inside instead, and ordered two portions of the famed fish and chips from a very friendly and helpful waitperson. What a pleasant surprise! As it turns out the Grill takes a lot of pride in their food. The French fries and Cole slaw are made on site. So are Kaiser Rolls for their burgers and dressings for their salads. When possible they buy fresh local and in season food from the local farms in the area, also. Even our fish was fresh Pacific cod, and it had a sweet taste to it. We ate slowly, savoring the tastes and flavors, till our plates were clean.
Descending back to the car we marveled at the site of the Olympic Mountains in the distance, one of the many gifts of a clear day here. We left relaxed happy and content, and of course Full! Here is to a beautiful day on the Sound!
When You Go:
The official county webpage with all the important information about the area including a map of all the trails, rules and reminders, history of the area, and a link to the golf courses website is linked here.
To go directly to the golf course click the link here.