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Swan Creek Park

Features You'll Find:
Hover over an icon for more details
    • Bike Trail / Biking / Bicycling
    • Parking Stalls
    • Trail / Hard
    • Trail / Soft
    • Community Garden
    • Natural Areas
    • Stream / River

Open ½ hour before sunrise
Close ½ hour after sunset

E. 42nd St. & Roosevelt Ave.
Tacoma, WA 98404

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Swan Creek Park is a 373-acre greenspace nestled on the boundary between East Tacoma and Pierce County with a salmon bearing stream, wooded canyon, upland forest, paved and natural trails, a new community garden, and new mountain bike trails. 



Total acreage is 373 acres - 290 owned by Metro Parks Tacoma and 83 owned by Pierce County.
Municipal Ownership Map

This park has two major sections:
  • Swan Creek and its associated wooded canyon
    - Plant List - 2011 / by Richard Van Deman 
  • An upland area with a second growth Douglas fir forest and an old housing project site complete with roads and utilities.

The park is popular for bird watching, hiking, walking, picnicking and other recreational uses, and is also used for driver training by public safety and utility departments. And now it's the home of Tacoma's first trail system for mountain bikes!

(click map image to enlarge or print)

  • 2820 Pioneer Way E. Canyon Entrance
    Amenities: parking lot, picnic tables (maintained by Pierce County Parks)
    - Coming from River Road (near I-5): When you are on Pioneer Way East coming from River Road, watch for the Clay Art Center and Barker's Barn (both on the right side of the road). There is also a small Swan Creek Park sign posted right before the park entrance parking lot. On the left, across from the park entrance, is a large fenced freight distribution center.  If you reach the Waller Road stop light, you've passed it. 
    - Coming from Puyallup: If you are coming from the Puyallup area on Pioneer Way E., watch for Waller Road on the left.  The park entrance is just past that, also on the left.
  • Gathering Place
    Amenities: parking lot, seasonal restroom, picnic shelter & tables
    - Coming from Interstate 5: From Portland Ave., turn on East 44th St. into the entrance of the Salishan community. Drive east to East Roosevelt, turn left at the T, drive 2 blocks and turn right on East 42nd into the parking lot.
  • 56th Street
    Amenities: curbside parking
    - Coming from Interstate 5: Head south on Portland Ave and turn left on East 56th Street. Trail head is located after the First Creek Middle School entrance on the left.
  • Lister School
    Amenities: curbside parking
    - Coming from Interstate 5: Head south on Portland Avenue and turn left on East 44th Street. Turn right on East T Street.



Biking Guidelines card for Swan Creek ParkMetro Parks Tacoma has partnered with the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance to create a 50-acre mountain bike trail network, which was expanded in 2016, and draws a diverse crowd of enthusiasts.

The trails include an easy perimeter trail, advanced trails and a technical skill building zone. Users can access this portion of the park from 56th Street or the Lister School entrances.

Non-motorized bikes of all types are welcome in the uplands area of the park, except on the soft pedestrian trails outside of the mountain bike park. The old roadway system is multi-use, open to pedestrians and all types of bicycles. Outside of the mountain bike course, bikes must remain on paved routes. Please be mindful of other users while enjoying your ride.

Remember to always wear a helmet when biking; protection is especially important when riding on trails with obstacles and more difficult features.

Want to get involved with the Mountain Bike Trails care and events? Check out

Graphic for FacebookConnect with the Swan Creek MTB Coalition on Facebook
Click Here


(click map image to enlarge or print)

Mountain Bike Trails Phase 2
Outdoor gear retailer REI has given the Greater Metro Parks Foundation $20,000 to help build the second phase of the mountain bike trail system in Metro Parks Tacoma’s Swan Creek Park. READ  MORE

View larger image (pdf)
Phase 2 Swan Creek mountain bike trails

 Walking swan creek-Salmon Saturday


Join a Washington Trails Association volunteer work party to help take care of the expansive trail network throughout this park.



Located at The Gathering Place trailhead. Just over 1 acre in size, it is Tacoma's largest community garden. Gardeners enjoy larger than normal plots.


In 2016 closed the McKinley off-leash area to comply with the Habitat Enhancement plan for the critical area buffer regulated by the City of Tacoma. We had hoped to move it quickly to Swan Creek Park. Unfortunately a series of events has changed the timeline. It was decided we should refresh the masterplan for the Lister Uplands portion of Swan Creek Park before starting on the next phase of capital improvements. Some of the delay is also centered around grant opportunities.

The good news is the public process should start in summer 2018. Please sign up for our email list to be sure you're notified of public meetings and other events related to Swan Creek Park.

Group working in Swan Creek Food Forest.SWAN CREEK PARK FOOD FOREST

Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human habitat that is in harmony with the earth we depend on. It uses methodologies from traditional and modern sustainable technologies, and seeks to heal the relationship between industrial human culture and the land.  Thoughtful design can be applied to a variety of spaces, from an individual's yard to an entire community. Learn more about permaculture at Swan Creek Park

Metro Parks Tacoma is partnering with various groups and individuals from the community to build a 1-acre food forest in Swan Creek Park. The Tacoma Food Forest and multiple community-wide edible pathways will serve the community in the following ways:

  • Educate the community about the advantages of permaculture and sustainable landscapes/ecosystems
  • Provide free, accessible, nutritious food to community members experiencing food insecurity
  • Enhance the recreational experience of park users and encourage outdoor activities by providing enticing fruits for consumption
  • Beautify the urban landscape with flowering plants and trees, while implementing a sustainable urban canopy
  • Provide our community with an edible urban design system that can be mapped and promoted as a unique program, worthy of positive attention for our region.
  • Honor social diversity, including identifiers such as socioeconomic status, race, gender, creed, and culture, creating a safe and welcomed place for expression and sovereignty.

THE TACOMA FOOD FOREST: Art, Edibles + Sustainable Culture
This 2016 exhibit presented the artwork of 15 regional artists/team at the Food Forest.
Photos in this slide show were taken by Jefferson Mok, Russ Carmack and Lisa Kinoshita.
Learn more

Food Forest Art Show - Swan Creek Park Aug. 27, 2016

Learn more about Swan Creek Park Food Forest.

Want to get involved?
Graphic for Facebook
Connect with the Friends of the Swan Creek Food Forest on Facebook
Click Here

Questions? Contact Site Coordinator: Ulysses Martin (253) 304-7049 or Design Lead: Kelda Lorax (253) 370-9446

Protect the Creek & Canyon card for Swan Creek ParkSWAN CREEK'S WOODED CANYON is a wildlife wonder - a space to learn, explore, appreciate and protect. Although much of its 373 acres haven't been developed, it is still a park and park rules apply so please:

  • Smoke only off park property
  • Visit only during daylight hours
  • Leash and scoop when you have a pet with you
  • Don't bring unauthorized motorized vehicles into the park
  • Avoid camping and campfires
  • Enjoy nature viewing opportunities but do not feed the wildlife or damage plants in the park
  • When endangered salmon are spawning feel free to look, but DO NOT DISTURB. These fish have traveled thousands of miles to lay eggs in this stream where they were born.

These guidelines are for everyone's enjoyment and safety.

Friends of Swan Creek Watershed is a diverse group of adults and youth who work together to provide educational and volunteer opportunities in Swan Creek Park & Watershed.

  • Students can engage in monitoring of the spawning salmon by doing visual counts, looking at the outtake flow, and marking the reds.
  • Swan Creek Park's plant diversity makes for an ideal class for plant identification. For more information contact Sue Bernstein at
Color CHIP-in! Logo
Learn more about how you can volunteer your time, services and support to enhance this park.

Members of our Natural Resources trail crews are trained to recognize the plant and report back with each new sighting. By this method we have established a known population range in the park and it helps us identify other locations where we might expect to find more. Precautions are taken to conserve and protect this rare treasure.

Card messaging that it is illegal to operate motorized vehicles on park properties
It is illegal to operate all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles and other motorized recreational vehicles on park properties.

All users must enter and leave park property through established entrances and exits.

Penalties up to $250 per violation apply. (Section 8.27.200 of the Tacoma Municipal Code)



Local Native Americans used Swan Creek and the surrounding property for hunting and holding councils up until the mid-19th century. At one time the land was part of the Puyallup Reservation. The first 152 acres for this park were purchased in 1966. Learn more Swan Creek history. . .


Events Happening Here:
  • 24 Jun
    Swan Creek Food Forest Work Party
    Fathers, sons and daughters of the food forest are encouraged to spend time together! Location: E 42nd and E...
    01:00 pm
  • 07 Jul
    Family Nature Walk - Swan Creek Park
    Explore Tacoma's Parks during this free naturalist-led walk. Discover amazing plants and animals and how they adapt to the seasons...
    10:00 am
  • 14 Jul
    Family Nature Walk - Swan Creek Park
    Explore Tacoma's Parks during this free naturalist-led walk. Discover amazing plants and animals and how they adapt to the seasons...
    10:00 am

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