Green River Natural Area–Explore this Sprawling Greenbelt between Auburn and Enumclaw

 

Quick Facts:

Location: South King County

Land Agency: King County Parks

Round Trip: more than 7 miles of trails

Elevation Gain: up to 650 feet

Contact: King County Parks

Recommended Resource: Urban Trails Tacoma (Mountaineers Books)

Notes: Dogs allowed on leash

Access: From SR 18 in Auburn the exit for SR 164 (Auburn Way S) and turn left. Then follow SR 164 east for 5.7 miles and turn left onto SE 380th Street. Drive 0.2 mile and turn right onto 160th Place SE. Follow this road which becomes SE 384th Street for 1.8 miles. Then turn left onto 188th Ave SE and drive 0.7 mile to O’Grady Trailhead.

Good to Know: dog-friendly (but be aware of equestrians), kid-friendly, mountain biking, salmon spawning viewing, snow free winter hikes, practice Leave No Trace principles

 

The sprawling Green River Natural Area contains 1200 acres of riparian forests, forested hillsides, old farm pastures, oxbow ponds, wetlands and several miles of frontage along the Green River. It protects exceptional salmon habitat and it includes more than 7 miles of trails.

Much of the natural area is comprised of old farmland and several former parks. O’Grady Park was one of the original protected tracts here and now serves as the natural area’s most popular trailhead. It was originally owned by the O’Grady family who ran a large farm operation here which included the cultivation of hops for making beer.

This area is extremely popular with equestrians. So be sure to yield to all horse traffic and to keep your dog under strict control. From the trailhead an old (gated) service road now acts as the area’s main trail and ties into many other trails. From here the main trail descends to the Green River. You can head straight to the river on the Main Trail for a one mile well graded route-and then return—or spend a couple of hours or all day exploring the area’s other trails.

The Main Trail ends at an old pasture and apple orchard on a small bluff above the Green River. From here you have lots of options for extending your hike. Potters Trail departs east climbing through an attractive mixed conifer and deciduous forest. It crosses a small creek, traverses steep slopes and then drops to an old farm field. The trail then crosses the field to end at a large gravel bar on the river. This is one of the best spots in this area for accessing the river—and come fall for watching spawning salmon.

Departing west from the picnic area is the delightful Three Bridges Trail. This trail ties into other trails including the Stevensonville Trail which will bring you back to the Main Trail. The Three Bridges Trail also leads to Leta’s Way which travels west along the river flood plain at the base of a bluff. It passes wetlands, channels, and groves of big cedars before terminating at the river near a channel. You can return via the Miner’s Trail which travels east on bluff tops back to the Three Bridges Trail.

A grand circuit around the O’Grady Area will yield you just over 7.0 miles; enough to make for a good day hike. On the north side of the river and accessed from SE Green Valley Road are the Doreen Johnson and Metzler Trailheads. Here you can follow several short trails to points along the river.

For detailed descriptions (including maps) on this trail and many other trails in the Green River Valley as well as many other great area trails, pick up copy of my newly released Urban Trails Tacoma book.

 For information on where to play in stay in Tacoma, consult Northwest TripFinder

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