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Easy hikes near JBLM

Shaded path along the Sequalitchew Creek Trail. Photo credit: Leah Jones

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This time of year in Washington is like magic. The rain is maybe coming to a stop, and the skies are hopefully more clear and sunny. Lucky for us, we don't have to travel far to experience the beauty in our backyard. There are several great, easy hikes within a short drive of JBLM. With just a slight elevation gain, these hikes are perfect for beginners.

Sequalitchew Creek Trail

This 2.4-mile roundtrip trail, located in DuPont, is one of the most beautiful and rewarding hikes around. The trailhead is located at DuPont City Hall in the same parking lot as the fire department and police station. This mostly shaded, low-grade hike is perfect for warm days.  Listen to the sounds of the creek while surrounded by ferns, towering trees and blooming wildflowers. The trail stops at a beautiful beach on the Puget Sound with amazing mountain views.

Open daily, no fee, 1700 Civic Drive, DuPont,

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

Just a few exits south of JBLM off I-5, this refuge has more than 3,000 acres of salt and freshwater marshes, and is a nesting area for migratory birds. You may also be able to catch a glimpse of harbor seals, otters and salmon, among other wildlife.

There are several hiking options, but the preferred trail is the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk. This five-mile trail starts at the visitor center and is accessed by a half-mile walk on the Twin Barnes Loop. The highlight is crossing the boardwalk, which juts out into the delta and spans a full mile. You might want to check the tide schedule, and bring binoculars and bug spray along on this hike.

Open daily, sunrise to sunset,  $3 parking fee or free with America the Beautiful Interagency pass (free for military), 100 Brown Farm Rd., Olympia,

Point Defiance Park

From the half-mile garden trail to the 5-mile loop, there are many hiking options at Point Defiance. The outer 5-mile loop is closed to motor vehicles Monday through Friday until 10 a.m., and weekends until 1 p.m. to provide pedestrians the opportunity to experience the trails without motorized vehicles. Enjoy hiking through old-growth forests with views of the Puget Sound, Cascades and Olympic mountain ranges.  Finish up with a trip to one of the park's many attractions including the zoo, Owen Beach, Point Defiance Marina, Fort Nisqually or the botanical gardens.  

Open daily from sunrise to sunset, no fee, 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma,

Tacoma Nature Center

Enjoy more than two miles of soft-surfaced walking trails as you wander through wetlands and forests at this 71-acre nature preserve. Snake Lake, a two-mile trail, is one of the more popular hikes.  There are more than 20 different species of mammals, and about 100 species of birds at the nature center. It's also home to reptiles, amphibians and different types of native plants.  If you have little hikers, make sure to stop by the Discovery Pond play area.

Trails are open 8 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset, no fee, 1919 S. Tyler St., Tacoma,

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