By Sara Graham
The Foothills Trail is a 21-mile one-way nonmotorized trail located in Pierce County between Puyallup and Buckley, Washington. It is the perfect destination to take your bicycle on an amazing adventure through spectacular Pacific Northwest scenery. From patches of pumpkins to acres of u-cut Christmas trees, you will see the seasons change before you making the time fly as you ride by.
The trail was built on an abandoned section of the historic Burlington Northern railway and finished in 2012 when it was designated a National Recreation Area. The path is paved and 12-feet wide making it safe to pass or ride side by side. There are four major trailheads East Puyallup, McMillin, Orting, and South Prairie and all have restrooms and lots of parking. You can create your own adventure depending on how many miles you want to cover.
I recommend starting at the East Puyallup trailhead and riding all the way to Buckley. Enjoy the changing seasons as you ride East towards Orting known as “the little town with a big view.” On a clear day, Mount Rainier will be your focal point as you ride through town. At the eight-mile mark just past Orting, the trail will parallel the Carbon River where the fall foliage is spectacular at this time of year. My favorite challenge is to catch or crunch a leaf as I ride through this section.
Aspen groves line the river separating the trail from the highway giving you the sense you are on your own private drive. There are long straightaways where you can pedal fast and furious! It is so much fun! Continue East through the quaint town of South Prairie then on to Buckley your final destination.
There are multiple picnic spots to take a break along the way. The gradual elevation over the entire route is 700 feet making for a speedy return back to your starting place. No matter how far you travel on the Foothills Trail you will get a great workout with fresh new scenery. Enjoy the ride!
For your post ride treats, I recommend the Farmhouse 12 Restaurant located just two blocks from the East Puyallup trailhead. It has a full menu as well as take out bakery treats and espresso. Best cookies ever!
PS. If you want to try electric bikes there is a rental station in Buckley right off the trail so you can try the ride in reverse – Buckley to Puyallup. Happy adventures!