Northwest Trek is a 725-acre wildlife park tucked away in the forest near Mt. Rainier. Here you can view over 200 North American animals along its beautiful, winding walking trails. The varied habitats of Northwest Trek create a scenic landscape with lakes, meadows, forests and streams. A fan favorite is the 55-minute tram tour of the 435 acre free-roaming area of the park. Spot animals grazing in fields, wandering in the forest, and possibly right outside your seat on the tram.
Paved, family-friendly walking trails connect the exhibits and like species are grouped together along the way. The wetland exhibits include an active fisher and a pair of beavers, along with a couple of inquisitive river otters that seem to be watching the people just as much as the people are watching them.
A turn to the left will bring you to bear country. Both black bears and brown idle among the trees and the underbrush in their respective enclosures, giving observers a chance to gain some up-close perspective. A little farther along are the gray wolves, the foxes and the coyotes, more chances to get eye-to-eye with the top end of the Northwest wilderness food chain. And for the ultimate mix of grace and power, the big cats command respect. The bobcat, cougar and lynx are fascinating creatures, seldom seen in the wild, beautiful and inspiring.
The signature Northwest Trek experience is the tram ride, a look into the lives of the animals out in the 435-acre free-roaming area. With all due respect to the bears, this part of the park is where the real big guys are: bison, woodland caribou and Roosevelt elk. The bison cluster in the flat areas, eyeballing the tram as it turns toward them. The caribou and the elk seem close enough to touch - because they are! The mix of animals that can be seen from the comfort of the tram is remarkable and the chance to see them in this way is a one-of-a-kind experience. Excited children will retell their journey for weeks to follow, while adults too will have a story to share.
Owned and operated by the Tacoma Metropolitan Park District, Northwest Trek got its start in 1971, when David and Connie Hellyer donated the land to "create a park that would display North American wildlife in their natural environments to people of all ages." Through the years, the park has grown in size and scope, and is now home to more than 200 animals, representing over 30 species, and a variety of programs for the public. The park includes Cheney Children's Discovery Center with interactive learning opportunities for kids as well as the Baker Research Cabin with hands-on activities for children of all ages.
Northwest Trek offers programs and events year-round; many geared toward children and families. Fun-filled events held each year for kids include the ever popular Slug Fest in June as well as Hoot 'n' Howl held in October. Special programs offered at Northwest Trek include Family Camps and Teen Tours where an emphasis is placed on environmental awareness and green projects. Current work includes the rearing of endangered Oregon spotted frogs for reintroduction to area wetlands along with educational and outreach programs that promote conservation leadership.