July 30, 2008

Steilacoom’s Chambers Creek a Good Place to Go Any Day

By Chester Allen, The Olympian, Olympia, Wash.

Jul. 30--What: Outing to Chambers Creek Canyon Park in Steliacoom.

To do: Look at it as if there are two Chambers Creek Canyon Parks during the summer, depending on the weather. On hot, warm days, people raise a ruckus in the shallow waters of Chambers Creek. Skimboarders ride their thin, wide planks of plywood or fiberglass over the sandy and muddy shallow. Others sit in the water, picnic, sunbathe and just enjoy the rare combination of sun and heat in South Sound.

Thing are different on a cool, drizzly summer day -- or during the fall, winter or spring. No one plays in the shallows -- in fact few people visit this 195-acre park just off the 7100 block of Chambers Creek Road -- right near the Steliacoom waterfront.

On a lonely day, shorebirds, raptors and songbirds swarm over the quiet waters. An osprey took a bath in the shallows where skimboarders usually slide over the water. Geese and ducks nibbled water weeds, preened and dozed on the mud flats. Two great blue herons hunted for little fish in the shallows -- and got their share. A belted kingfisher swooped over the water and perched in a dead cedar tree.

The trail network through dense forest was quiet and cool. A pileated woodpecked jackhammered on a snag, and two young blacktail deer browsed in the foliage.

This park is a good idea on any day.

Directions: From South Sound, take Interstate-5 north. Take exit 119 and turn left at the top of the offramp and cross over I-5. Turn right onto Dupont-Steilacoom Road. Follow the road through North Fort Lewis. Turn right at Lafayette Street in Steilacoom, which is near a ferry dock. Lafayette Street becomes Chambers Bay Drive. Follow Chambers Bay Drive to the park sign and a small parking area.

Equipment: Cameras, sunglasses, sunscreen, birding guides, skimboards, towels and other beach gear. If you want to try the trails, bring bug spray and good hiking shoes.

Safety: Put life preservers on the kids. Watch for poison oak in the woods.

More information: Visit Pierce County Parks and Recreation at www.co.pierce.wa.us/pc/services/recreate/fac-list.htm


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