About the Trail
The Foothills Trail sits atop a historic railroad bed and snakes through the river valley southeast of Tacoma. This 25-mile-long trail is a popular commuter route and recreational destination for bicyclists, while hikers enjoy shorter, more manageable segments of the trail. One of the most scenic sections for the unobstructed views of nearby Mt. Rainier begins in Orting and follows the Carbon River upstream through farmland and forest.
The Foothills Trail is a 12-foot wide non-motorized asphalt trail / linear park suitable for bicycles, walking, in-line skates and wheel chairs. It also has a soft shoulder path for equestrians.
Completed paved sections include 15 miles from Meeker to the South Prairie Creek in South Prairie and a 2 mile section in Buckley. Our future plan is to continue the trail to Puyallup where it connects with the Riverwalk Trail then ultimately to Tacoma and Sumner where we will connect with the Interurban Trail that now extends through Kent and Auburn. The trail in Buckley will continue east to King County and Enumclaw.
The Foothills Trail has been constructed in sections as finances, environmental permits and county ownership have allowed. When complete, the trail will be more than 28 miles in length. June 28, 2007 marked the opening of the entire length of the Foothills Trail, extending from Buckley through the Town of South Prairie, City of Orting and into the City of Puyallup.
The trail opening was held at the City of Buckley's southern border on Highway 165 where a happy crowd of local dignitaries and trail supporters gathered in liquid sunshine to hear Pierce County Parks Director Kathy Kravit-Smith pay homage to Doctor Tate and give thanks to the Foothills Trail Coalition for their dedication and public service. Other speakers included the Mayor of Buckley, Pat Johnson.
A rail-trail is an abandoned rail bed used as a non-motorized public trail with transportation and recreation in mind. There are over 10,000 miles of rail-trail in the U.S. Some abandoned rail lines have been rail-banked, which keeps the corridor in one ownership. However, to assemble the Foothills Trail, each segment of trail was painstakingly purchased or, in some cases, donated to Pierce County. Federal and state grant funds are used to construct the trial segments into existing and ongoing Foothills Trail.
Burlington Northern Railway abandoned the rail bed in 1982. The effort started in 1984, when a Buckley physician and a community visionary organized the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition to assist Pierce County Parks in building the trail. Despite roadblocks, construction of the trail is ongoing and thousands of users are already enjoying its benefits.
Foothills Trail Map
Foothills Trail Events