Metro Parks Tacoma

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Wapato Park

Features You'll Find:
Hover over an icon for more details
  • ADDITIONAL FEATURES
    • Bike Trail / Biking / Bicycling
    • Historic
    • Parking Stalls
    • Parking Stalls / ADA
    • Restrooms / Seasonal
    • Trail / Hard
    • Trail / Soft
  • BOATING & FISHING
    • Boat Launch / Walk Up
    • Fishing Pier
  • SPORTS
    • Horseshoes
  • NATURAL FEATURES
    • Lake / Pond
    • Natural Areas
  • BUILDINGS & PICNIC SITES
    • Meeting Space
    • Picnic / Drop in
    • Picnic / Reservable
    • Weddings / Rentals
  • DOGS
    • Off Leash Dog Park
  • PLAYGROUNDS
    • Playground (5-12 yrs)
Hours:

Open ½ hour before sunrise
Close ½ hour after sunset

Restroom Schedule

6500 S. Sheridan Ave.
Tacoma, WA 98408

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7/29/14 ALERT: TOXIC ALGAE BLOOM
There is currently a toxic algae bloom occurring in Wapato Lake. Adults, children and pets should avoid the water until further notice.


Wapato Park lies in a beautiful setting of lake and forest and is one of the most urban parks in the city. Visitors can enjoy display gardens, a walking trail around the lake (.9 miles) and an impressive, historic pergola.

WAPATO ANNUAL GARDEN
The historic pergola, a crescent-shaped arbor with an open roof and tall columns, has lent a hint of Italian garden to this South End park's main entryway since 1938. The structure was restored in 2001 and serves as the backdrop for year-round seasonal color. Flower baskets hang from beams encircled by rows of blooms.

  Wapato Park
WAPATO PICNIC SHELTERS
Three areas are available for rent inside the park:
Pavilion in Wapato Park viewed from the water side Main picnic area in Wapato Park
WAPATO DOG PARK
Wapato features three fully fenced areas for pets to romp leash free with their owners - including one reserved just for small dogs. Water, benches and shelters are provided on-site. Learn More  
Buddy on the bench at Wapato small dog park.
Buddy on the bench
Max enjoying Wapato's new dog park
Max enjoying the afternoon




Mack_WapatoDogPark_121212
This handsome boy is Mack
 Nigel shadow watching in Wapato Dog Park
Nigel intently watching shadows
  Zoey visiting Wapato Dog Park for the first time!
Zoey visits for the first time
 


WAPATO DAY CAMPS
Learn More

WAPATO DOCKS
06/29/13 - Both docks have been closed due to safety concerns. Staff is currently reviewing options to repair or replace the one on the South end of the lake. We are sorry for the inconvenience and will post more information as it becomes available.

WAPATO LAKE
Keeping Wapato Lake's water clean has been a challenge throughout the park's history. Early efforts included adding chlorine to cut down on algae growth. Then in 1936, as part of a Works Progress Administration project to improve the park, 180,000 cubic yards of mud was dredged from the lake hoping to clean it. By 1942 the lake was closed to swimmers due to unhealthful water conditions. Since that time a variety of other methods have been tried to keep the lake water clean such as harvesting aquatic plants, adding millions of gallons of fresh water, and even draining the lake in 1981 and removing tons of polluted sediment. Today, Metro Parks is working closely with the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to develop a long-range plan to protect and improve water quality in Wapato Lake.

Wapato Don't Feed Wildlife Sign Graphic
  • Wildlife can experience malnutrition, disease, and overpopulation due to human feeding.
  • Wildlife often exhibit aggressive behaviors when they become conditioned to expect food from people.
  • Overpopulation is a significant contributor to poor water quality and toxic algae growth, endangering public health and safety.
  • Feeding is illegal and to help curb overpopulation issues, citations will be issued for violations. Feeding carries a $532 penalty. (TMC 8.27.130)

PLAY AREA ACCESSIBILITY INFO

PARK IMPROVEMENTS
Three phases of improvements, including a new loop trail around the lake, new dog park, restroom facilities, renovations to the historic pavilion, and lake water quality improvements were celebrated at a grand re-opening held on July 14, 2012. Design consultant was Site Workshop and contractor was Nordic Construction.
Learn more about Wapato Park improvements.

Bikes at the edge of Wapato Lake in 1928WAPATO PARK HISTORY
One of the earliest settlers in South Tacoma was R.A. Radebaugh, owner of the Tacoma Ledger newspaper. Radebaugh purchased over 300 acres surrounding Wapato Lake for what he envisioned as a fashionable residential district and public park.

Radebaugh's Wapato Lake Park opened to the public in 1889 and was described as "rapidly becoming the most beautiful vista of landscape in this section of the northwest." Following financial difficulties in the 1890s, Radebaugh lost most of his Wapato Lake property, but the lake continued to serve as a popular recreation area for residents of South Tacoma.

Shortly after the establishment of the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma in 1907, residents began requesting the Park Board to add Wapato Lake to the growing list of Tacoma parks. With little money available for land acquisition, it was the generous donation of 20 acres of lakefront property by Horace and Helen Scott in 1920 that started today's Wapato Park. Read more about the history of Wapato Park.


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