Metro Parks Tacoma

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Wapato Park

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

Open ½ hour before sunrise
Close ½ hour after sunset

Restroom Schedule

6500 S. Sheridan Ave.
Tacoma, WA 98408

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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.

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
Three areas are available inside the park:

The Kiwanis and Main shelters are reservable for the months April-September. Reservations may be made up to 365 days in advance.

During all other months they are free to use and are available on a first-come first-served basis.

The Pavilion is available for rent April-September. The rest of the year it is not available.

Pavilion in Wapato Park viewed from the water side Main picnic area in Wapato 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

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 Park Trail Map.
As you can see in this trails map, Wapato has a number of trails that you can walk to explore the park. More information about trail length will be added as it becomes available.

The two wooden dock structures are being replaced for improved access and paddleboat/ kayak launching.
Status: 4/18/16
Schematic designs were presented and the consultant will now move into Design Development through June.

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.

September 2014 - Stormwater Treatment Pilot Project
the City of Tacoma, in partnership with UW Tacoma and Metro Parks Tacoma, has temporarily installed a container onsite as part of a pilot project to test the ability of selected recycled materials to remove phosphorus from stormwater. Phosphorus in stormwater can enter Wapato Lake (and other local lakes) and lead to excessive algae growth and poor water quality. This test is funded by a grant from the WA State Dept. of Ecology and is part of our ongoing efforts at Wapato Lake to improve water quality. For more information, please contact City of Tacoma Environmental Services at 253-591-5588.

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)


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.
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.

Events Happening Here:
  • 27 Aug
    Wapato Park Work Party
    Help restore your local park's green spaces. All ages OK. Bring garden...
    09:00 am
  • 24 Sep
    Wapato Park Work Party
    Help restore your local park's green spaces. All ages OK. Bring garden...
    09:00 am
  • 22 Oct
    Wapato Park Work Party
    Help restore your local park's green spaces. All ages OK. Bring garden...
    09:00 am