Wilderness Hiking in Gig Harbor

If you are like me and occasionally need an escape from civilization but don’t have time to drive half the day, McCormick Forest Park is a remarkable oasis.

What a pleasant surprise!  I enjoy a good hiking trail, but I’ve had a hard time finding ones around here that meet my criteria.  Either they are conveniently located but heavily traveled and obviously in the city.  Or they are beautiful and secluded but at such a distance away that I rarely get to them.

On the trails in McCormick Forest Park, we found a excellent compromise.  It’s close by, across the street from Fire District 5 Headquarters on Bujacich Road NW.  It's practically steps from Hwy 16 and minutes from my house.  Once you enter the trailhead, you are transported to a deep woods location.

It was almost eerie how at times I felt I was in my beloved Olympic National Park.  Towering fir and cedar trees draped with moss, forest critters darting across the trails, vine maples reaching tentatively upward toward the filtered sunlight, and shrill birds chastising your intrusion into their world complete the illusion.  All your senses are fooled into thinking you are far from the city.

Except the road noise from Hwy 16.  But it only takes a small stretch of the imagination to transform it into a river tumbling in the distance.  And there is an occasional glimpse of a building or the highway itself.  My solution: look the other direction!

The surprising lack of any litter was a pleasant shock.  I’ve been on trails miles and miles from any other human being and found at least some trace of a previous inconsiderate hiker.  I don’t know if this trail was recently cleaned or if we have unusually fastidious hikers in Gig Harbor.  But either way, job well done!  I deliberately looked for some litter as soon as I noticed its absence and only found a tiny purple foil candy wrapper.  And yes, I picked it up.

The park offers around 4 miles of trails that meander through forests, dip down into McCormick Creek Canyon, and parallel Hwy 16 before circling back to the trailhead.  Some sections of the trail are moderately steep and there are more than a few ankle-twisting roots and rocks.  Maps of the trails are posted on small wooden markers at each trail intersection and they do a good job of indicating the steeper areas for those looking to avoid them.

Some trails are open to bikes or horses and leashed dogs are welcome.  There is no fee to use the park.

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