Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

March 7, 2013 at 8:31am

Outdoor Addict: The Foothills Trail

MCMILLIAN BRIDGE: It's the best spot to jump on The Foothills Trail. Photo credit: Whitney Rhodes

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So the other day I was enjoying the trails at Point Defiance. They are one of my favorite easy escapes from the city. Plodding along on the trails, mud on my shoes, admiring the first signs of spring, listening to the birds, breathing the fresh air ... ROAAAAAAAAAAR. A Harley rides by on Five Mile Drive. So much for pretending I was out of the city for a while.

This is not a rant on loud motorcycles. Or cars. I have taken that drive many a time and sometimes it's the perfect lunch break. But I was left cranky and wanting out. Sometimes I need to just get out of the city. It doesn't have to be a crazy camp in the middle of nowhere trip. But sometimes I just want to see a cow.  So I set off on a quest to find a place that was close but would be an escape from all that is the city. A place that could be an afternoon getaway and not an all day affair.

I have found one dear reader. Pack your bicycles! Grab the roller blades! Bring the dog and kids! There is a trail with infinite possibilities. The Foothills Trail.

The Foothills Trail is an over 25 mile long trail that largely follows the old rail line. The Foothill Rails-to-Trails coalition has diligently championed the development of this scenic byway and it is a gem in Pierce County. When it is completed, it will link with other trails and you will be able to travel from the shores of Puget Sound in Tacoma, all the way to the foothills in Enumclaw. While not fully completed yet, there are substantial sections done providing miles of recreational opportunity.

My personal favorite spot to get on the trail is the McMillin trailhead. Located adjacent to the historic McMillian bridge just before you get into Orting, this small parking area offers you a two direction choice. Head over the historic railroad trestle bridge and into farmland, or continue towards the adorable town of Orting. Both directions have different pulls for me. On one hand, the farms (cows!) provide that visual escape from the city. On the other, the view of Mt. Rainier as you head into to town is unbelievable. Plus, the Orting Bakery is pretty darn good. If you do bring the kids, downtown Orting has a lovely little park for them to play in. Get some treats at the bakery and let the kids run around like heathens before strapping them back in the stroller. Oh and I've been told the pizza at Route 66 Pizzeria is "freaking amazing." You can start your trail adventure here. But at least for me, when faced with a bakery and pizza or a trail ... well lets just say I'm better when the reward is at the end of the exercise.

The trail is largely flat, mostly paved, and stretches for miles. If you are training for a long distance run or are a bicyclist, believe me it is worth the trip to mix up your routine. REI has built a rest area about halfway between Orting and South Prairie providing a nice place for a picnic. And just because the trail is flat and paved does not mean it's boring. On my recent walk I saw longhorn cattle, emus, woodpeckers, met an adorable puppy that was working on his manners and sat next to a lovely river. What will your next adventure look like?

The Foothills Trail

McMillin and Orting trailheads: From State Highway 167 and/or 512 take the State Highway 410 exit, then take the Orting/Sumner exit which is Route 162. Turn right towards Orting. The McMillin trailhead is on the right directly after the cement bridge at 140th St E. The Orting trailhead is 2.2 miles further on the right located in Orting City Park.

Find Pierce County's trail map here.

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