Puyallup Loop 12k Review
Thinking about running the Puyallup Loop 12 K Trail with us?
Don't miss this awesome review of the trail by one of our friendly runners.
The loop consists of single-track dirt trails, gravel connectors, and paved roads. While it's marked, the loop signs are frequent victims of vandalism, often damaged or removed, however despite this, it's still relatively easy to follow.
After looping around the Decoursey Pond twice, runners meander back behind the Clarks Creek Park tennis courts and start climbing south through the trails of the park. At the 'T,' turn right and the trails go from gravel to dirt single-track with some steeper sections to come. Pay attention to course signs and markers through this as there are some offshoots that exit the park into adjacent neighborhoods. While not very long, distance-wise, the trails provide a unique challenge with changes in speed (I personally walk a lot of uphill sections to conserve energy) and ensuring secure footing while avoiding rocks and roots.
At the south end of the park, as runners exit the trails, the hardest part is over. The loop goes left on the road and continues left at the stop sign into a cul-de-sac. This is another tricky part but there's a little path with some stairs at the back end of that (careful on this section, it's steep going down). The path spits out on another road, where the Loop continues through the community garden (turn left into that).
For those familiar with the area, this trail brings runners out at the top of the "Hatchery Hill" (or "15th St. Wall" for us Strava nerds). The Loop continues across the street and continues to descend into town. This is the final descent and another tricky part as there are some private driveways and property connectors at the bottom. The public trail continues to the left (a sharp left).
The Loop is pretty easy to follow as it winds through the neighborhoods and back to Clark's Creek Park, including tree-covered trails, after which runners will continue straight across a grassy trail behind some residential houses, and a gravel road as they approach 14th St. Runners will make a left on 14th St., follow signs to Clarks Creek South (a right off 14th) and run through the park for two more loops around Decoursey Pond before finishing in the parking lot of Clarks Creek North.
The Puyallup Valley Loop is a great tool for local runners to use with its variation in surfaces (softer ground is much easier on the joints), requires a lot more focus navigating the roots and rocks than typical road running, and is great for gaining uphill strength through power-hiking. The trail section climbs about 500 feet which is pretty significant for us Valley-dwellers, and with it being in the first half of the Loop, it's important to take this section easier to save the legs for the more runnable sections.
Runners also have the benefit on this loop to not encounter much vehicle traffic, aside from the typical neighborhood comings and goings. 15th St. (after the community gardens trail) and 14th St. (at the end of the gravel road) are the two busiest road crossings but are manageable.
I approach this loop as "effort over pace," meaning I ignore my watch's mile splits since the challenge and benefits of the trail sections outweighs the need for speed.
By Aubree R.
There's still time to register for this September 25 event.