Hike Description: It’s officially called the Cross County Commuter Connector, but those familiar with the corridor linking Tacoma to South Hill call it the Pipeline Trail. It’s listed on maps as Pipeline Road.
Whatever you choose to call it, a trip on this 7-mile corridor offers a glimpse into the future. Pierce County wants to construct a paved multiuse path on the road that is currently a combination of pavement, grass but mostly dirt road. While there is no timeframe for this project to be completed, Director of Pierce County Parks and Recreation Tony Tipton has said previously it’s a project that could go faster than most.
The trail links Tacoma’s Swan Creek and South Hill’s Heritage parks. In 2015, a short patch of trail was paved behind a new county facility between 122nd and 126th streets near Heritage Park where the route can be linked with the Nathan Chapman Memorial Trail.
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A trip on the Pipeline Trail isn’t without obstacles. Gates block the way in multiple locations. Tipton says these are to keep vehicles out and that it’s OK for cyclists and walkers to pass these gates. In some locations this may require climbing over. Tipton says there have been discussions about making these gates easier to pass. Pipeline Road travelers will also have to cross several roads, some of which don’t have pedestrian crossings that are easilly accessed.
The Pipeline Road can be accessed at numerous points, but there is no designated parking for the trail. Mountain bikers can easily combine a trip on the trail with a few laps in the Swan Creek Mountain Bike Park.
Directions: The Pipeline Road can be accessed from numerous locations including Swan Creek and Heritage parks. Perhaps the easiest access is to park at Heritage Park, 9010 128th St. E., Puyallup. From here, walk to the intersection of 94th Avenue and 128th Street for the safest crossing. You can follow the sidewalk along 94th to the trail, or turn left on 126th and follow it to the bend where you will find the start of the short paved section of trail.
Difficulty rating: 3 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
Miles round trip: 14.
Elevation gain: 600 feet.
Best time of the year: Year-round.
Map: There is no official trail map, but the Pipeline Road can be found cutting diagonally from South Hill to Tacoma on most maps of the South Sound area.
Also: Along the way, the trail visits an undeveloped piece of Pierce County Parks property known as Orange Gate. There are unofficial trails on this land. Tipton says proponents of the CCCC/Pipeline Trail would like to see the trail eventually extended to connect downtown Tacoma to the McMillin Reservoir area and perhaps, even the Foothills Trail. Most of the Pipeline Road corridor is owned by Tacoma Water. Dogs on county land are required to be on leashes no longer than 8 feet and owners must clean up after pets. Several geocaches are hidden along the route. Visit geocaching.com for more information.