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Pierce County's love locks bridge

The bridge at Chambers Creek Regional Park has become a symbol of enduring love

The “love locks” bridge at Chambers Creek Regional Park in University Place. Photo credit: Kristi Berry

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You don't have to travel all the way to Paris or Prague to declare your love with a padlock. Pierce County has its very own love locks bridge at Chambers Creek Regional Park in University Place.

Built in 2010, the pedestrian bridge curves over the railroad tracks providing safe passage to the beach below. You can see why couples picked this spot. It is indeed romantic. Walk out to the overlook to take in sweeping views of the Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains and surrounding islands ... or head down the stairs to stroll on two miles of rocky shoreline strewn with driftwood.

According to Bret Burgess, parks specialist at Pierce County Parks and Recreation Services Department, the locks started appearing in 2014. He estimates over 600 locks currently adorn the bridge. Couples commemorate their love on the locks with handwritten or engraved initials, names and messages.  

Love locks on the pedestrian bridge at Chambers Creek Regional Park in University Place. Photo credit: Kristi Berry
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One lock said "Marcus + Kelsey Forever" while another had the initials "A+C" encircled with a heart. Another lock simply read "Love you bunches!"  While a couple remembered a summer together with, "WA Summer ‘16 Chris + Eve." We chose to make our love lock a family affair. We wrote "Berry Family 2008" on the lock and let our son do the honors of selecting the spot and fastening the lock.

Cities around the globe have seen this tradition grow in popularity over the last 10 years. Paris, Rome, Cologne and Amsterdam are just a few of the cities where couples have fastened a padlock to a bridge to symbolize their unbreakable love.

While a fun tradition for lovebirds, some municipalities have started to remove the locks. The city of Paris cut locks from the famous Pont des Arts Bridge in 2015 after the weight of the locks became dangerous. Just like its Parisian counterparts, Pierce County officials reserve the right to cut the locks if they compromise the safety of the bridge. In fact, there's a sign stating just that. It reads, "The locks you see on this bridge were placed here by the public. Pierce County may move or remove locks if they interfere with the safe use of the bridge."

"We ask that locks aren't hung over the railroad tracks or used to lock two cables together," said Burgess. "We walk the bridge every day to check for safety issues. If we see non-compliant locks or if too many locks are in one place causing the cables to sag, we remove the locks. We try to relocate them if we can." It does appear people have started to spread the love around the bridge so one area doesn't get too weighed down.

The 930-acre Chambers Creek Regional Park is a beautiful spot to spend the day. And it's not just for couples. There's something for the entire family, even furry friends.

The Central Meadow's 11-acre lawn is perfect for a picnic, kite flying or game of catch. Chambers Bay offers 18 holes of renowned links-style golf that hosted the 2015 U.S. Open. Miles of public trails provide a great alternative to a treadmill. The Soundview Trail winds through a forested area and the golf course. The Grandview Trail sits atop a 200-foot bluff overlooking the golf course and sound. Combine the two to create a 3.25-mile loop with some serious incline.

Kids can swing and climb at the sea-themed Playground by the Sound. Dogs can run around at the fenced off-leash park or on the beach where they're free to roam off-leash and brave the chilly water to fetch sticks. Parking is plentiful and the restrooms are clean.

Whether you want to check out the view, leave a lock or have some family fun, you'll find Chambers Creek Regional Park is a little oasis on the waters edge.

Chambers Creek Regional Park, open daily from sunrise to sunset, 6320 Grandview Dr. W., University Place, 253.798.4141, co.pierce.wa.us

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