The Naches Trail Preserve is a 40˗acre natural area where native plants are protected and their praises sung by a wide range of the region’s birdlife. The area offers a good opportunity to visit wildlands without a long hike. Protecting wildlife and their habitat is the priority here — pets and dogs are not to join you in the preserve.
Blue and green park signs at the western end of the parking lot beckon walkers to the 0.4-mile gravel loop trail. Attractive split rail fences border some parts of the path while chain link fences mark wetland boundaries and other protected areas.
All three lowland habitats in the preserve appear beside the southern section of the loop trail. Prairie mounds, which are tan in fall and winter, a deep carpet of blue Camas blossoms in May and a multicolored wildflower display through the summer. Chest-high wetland plants, notably cattails, grow south of the fences, marking the margins of the Clover Creek drainage. A conifer-covered ridge rises beyond the wetland, forming the undeveloped southern boundary of the preserve.
Toward the western end of the current loop trail, tall rangy Garry oak trees appear above ankle-to-chest-high Oregon grape thickets. Each habitat supports a different bird population, from hummingbirds and song sparrows to ducks and geese, nuthatches, towhees and hawks. A bench at the northwest corner of the preserve offers clear views of Mount Rainier framed between stately Garry oaks — an excellent place to pause for reflection.
This section of the Naches Trail is recognized as part of the Native American trading routes in this region. It does not appear in popular historical accounts of the route taken by European settlers in the mid˗19th century.
WTA Pro Tip: Restrooms, picnic tables, community meeting rooms and an extensive playground are included in the Stan and Joan Cross Park, just across 43rd Avenue Court E. from the parking lot. Pets and dogs are welcome in that park. The park has short concrete walkways, with an additional trail being developed near its wetlands in 2023.