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Top 10 places to walk your dog in the South Sound

Scenic trails, temperate rain forests and plenty of beaches for you and your pup

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With the rainy weeks behind us for another year, now is the perfect time to get out and explore with your favorite four-legged friends.  Here are 10 places in the South Sound to walk your dog. Explore new trails while enjoying the cool temperatures of a dense forest canopy or the breathtaking views of ocean and mountains.

Watershed Park
Parking and trailhead
: 2500 Henderson Blvd. SE, Olympia

The dense, temperate rain forest canopy of this beautiful 153-acre park is the perfect place to walk your dog on a hot, sunny day. The park has a loop trail with well-groomed dirt and gravel paths. Strollers are not recommended, but your dog will love the winding trail, bridges over Moxlie Creek and the incredible rain forest.  Every glass of water in Olympia came out of the wells in Watershed Park until the 1950s, and some of the pipes and old waterworks are still visible.  One section of the 1.5-mile trail is a bit steep, but easily accomplished with good shoes and a hand on the smoothed wood railing. Your dog will love the challenge.

View from the top of the path near the parking lot at Chambers Bay. Photo credit: Susan Melnyk

Priest Point Park
: 2600 East Bay Drive NE, Olympia

One of Olympia's most popular parks sits along the shoreline of Budd Inlet and is easily accessible from downtown Olympia, with plenty of free parking.  Beaches, a dense forest canopy and lots of places to picnic make this a very family friendly park.  The trails have gravel for traction on the sometime-steep areas, and it is best to stay on the trails until you get to the beach.  Dogs need to be leashed on the trails, though many water dogs are unleashed so they can play in the water once reaching the beach.  Be sure to have recall commands with your dog and respect the many families playing nearby on a sunny day.

One of the beaches at Priest Point with a view of the Capitol Building and downtown Olympia across the water. Photo credit: Susan Melnyk

Capitol Campus
: roadways off of Capitol Way South, Olympia

Although the Capitol can look fairly deserted after hours, the public is welcome to walk the beautiful grounds and take in the majesty of its statues, flowers and architecture. Dogs need to be leashed at all times, and be sure to bring bags, but there are plenty of places to find a little shade on a hot day or take in the view of downtown Olympia and the Olympic mountains from the bluff.  Capitol Lake sits at the base of the hill and is another great place to walk your pooch.  Combine the two walks by following the winding path down the bluff. Downtown Olympia is a short walk, with several dog-friendly patios nearby to grab a cool drink or have lunch.

Path towards the capital building, parking along the side of the roads on the campus. Photo credit: Susan Melnyk

Capitol Lake
: 5th Ave. SW and Water St., Olympia

This huge lake sits below the Capitol Campus in downtown Olympia and is a level, paved path for dog walkers and strollers alike.  The path runs around the entire lake and is well lit in the evenings with areas of shade during the day.  There are several water fountains that feature a dog bowl below, but be sure to bring your own water just in case they are not functioning properly.

Parking is free in Olympia after 5 p.m. and on weekends at city meters (be sure to check signage), so combine this walk with a walk through the Capitol Campus by following the winding path up the hill towards the Capitol.  It's quite steep and not all that stroller-friendly, but the view from the top is amazing - and your dog will love the exercise!  

Chambers Bay
: 6320 Grandview Dr. University Place

If we had to choose the most scenic dog walk in the South Sound, this one would win by a mile! The view of mountain meeting water is as majestic as one could imagine, and the option of two paths makes this a great place to visit regularly.  Both paths are well paved and smooth, with one very level path running along the ridge and overlooking the golf course below.  The second path is quite steep and heads toward the water, level with the golf course.  Both give you the opportunity to take in the view. Parking is free.  

View from the top of the path near the parking lot at Chambers Bay. Photo credit: Susan Melnyk

Fort Steilacoom Park
: 8714 87th Ave. SW, Lakewood

Fort Steilacoom Park, which is actually located in Lakewood, is a huge public park with plenty of free parking, not that your dog will care.  She'll be too busy dragging you toward the massive dog park that rivals many in the state.  The park boasts wide-open fields lined with trees, perfect for romping hounds, so be sure to bring plenty of water and a bowl; your pooch will need it. The entire park is quite level and easy to walk.  Entrances are located throughout the park, but parking is easiest at the main park entrance at 87th Ave. SW.

If you prefer to keep your dog on a leash, there are several paths outside of the off-leash area that will take you through the woods and around the park.  Be sure to bring bags and clean up after your pup. Fellow park goers will appreciate it - and it's the law.

Lots of places to explore at the off-leash Steilacoom Dog Park. Photo credit: Susan Melnyk

Ruston Way

If you live in or near Tacoma, a dog walk along the waterfront on Ruston Way is a must. The cool breeze off the water is refreshing, and there are several viewpoints and picnic areas along the way.  The level, paved path runs from just past downtown Tacoma almost to Point Defiance Park - another great place to explore with your dog.  Parking can be a little tricky, as this is a very popular part of town, especially on weekends and evenings.  Your best bet is to find a spot on the street in the neighborhood above the waterfront (called Old Towne).  Be sure to stop for rests on hot days and let those water dogs play in the gentle waves at the beaches along the path.   

Sesqualitchew Creek Trail
: Civic Drive in DuPont

This trail in DuPont is accessible through the City Hall parking lot and is well shaded on hot days for a good portion of the walk.  The trailhead is a bit hidden, so be sure to turn into the parking lot between the DuPont City Hall and Fire Department, then drive to the far end and park. Get out and walk to the end of the road. On the right, you'll see a little path that will take you to the trailhead.  The fact that it's a little hard to find means that the trail is never overly busy.  The path is well groomed but only paved in some sections, so it's best to leave the stroller at home.

Point Defiance Park
: 5 Mile Rd., Tacoma

Point Defiance Park in Tacoma is a great place to wander on a hot day.  A dense canopy allows for plenty of shade for leashed walks, and there is a big dog park through the woods and along the water's edge.  

Bresemann Forest Park Trail
: Sprinker Recreation Center on Military Road (152nd Street), Parkland/Spanaway

This 70-acre park features plenty of shade and well-groomed trails that wind along Morey Creek.  Park in the Sprinker Recreation Center and look for the wrought iron gate to the park on the west side of the parking lot near Spire Rock. A few of the trails are paved.  A children's playground and several areas to barbeque and picnic make this a great place to spend the day with the whole family, with man's best friend in tow.

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