Arts & Entertainment Community Environment

Two in Tow & On the Go: Nature, but nearby, at Adam Tallman Nature Park

Posted on April 21st, 2023 By:


Today’s adventure explores Gig Harbor’s Adam Tallman Nature Park, a mostly paved half-mile path that weaves you through wild wetlands and boasts a surprise duck pond obscured from the street. 

Located at 6811 Wagner Way NW just west of Highway 16, this city park is of the non-playground variety and largely tucked away behind an office complex. In all, the wetlands and surrounding natural areas span 11.84 acres. Its flat walkability alongside branches covered in spongey moss, a majestic cedar straight out of “Avatar” and cute duckies to swoon over make it a great stop for kids.

For parents, a dedicated parking lot, wooden viewing platforms over the water perfect for snack breaks, and an overall calm atmosphere make the trail a hit as well. In fact, this pocket of open space is nearly perfect – if only it had restrooms. (That little building you see off the parking lot is a utility structure).

EXTRA: Make sure to check out this story about the man behind the park’s name.

Walking the Path

Official park parking lot, located on the east side of Wagner Way NW off Wollochet Drive.

Another plus of this passive-use park style is there were very few people on the trail on an early spring Sunday. Of course, I know from Clara and Wyatt’s time attending the outdoor class at the neighboring Curious by Nature School that the duckpond is a staple destination for students there. Last weekend, though, it was just me, the kids, and two cute Mallards. Oh, and lots of rain. (Isn’t this like the worst spring, ever?)

One thing to note as a slight negative for the family-friendly crowd is the trail is split in two by Wagner Way NW, a side street off Wollochet Drive that accommodates traffic to office complexes, an assisted living center, preschool classes, and eventually a residential area further north. So be aware there’s a crosswalk to navigate for children that run ahead.

From the parking lot, we entered the marked trailhead on the east side of Wagner Way that leads down into tall trees with a thick canopy cover. About halfway through, we came upon the first outlook — a deck that overlooks the pond.

The deck provided a welcome break to view the ducks. The feathery friends appeared to be Mallards (fitting, given that the office complex that buffers it is named Mallards Landing). We spied with our little eyes one male and one female – with the male’s vibrant green head feathers quickly giving him away.

Other sights to see leading up to this point: a large open stump the kids loved to peek into and soft moss on sticks to touch.


A Closer Look in Pics:


As the walk progressed, an office building came into view along with a second overlook where Clara spotted what we think were actual lily pads floating atop the pond’s glassy surface of ripples and raindrops.

From there, we walked a bit more before coming to the crosswalk. It’s marked with lines on the street but not traffic controls like lights or sounds so I had the kids wait for me to cross with them.

Google reviewers laud this wetland walking trail as a hidden gem. Of course, those same reviewers also convinced me that bringing my kids’ scooters was a good idea. Even though I knew in my heart of hearts that such an activity inevitably ends with me hauling both of those three-wheelers over my shoulder like a pack mule by the trip’s end.

Westside Washed Out

Alas, we brought the scooters anyway. Then we ended up leaving them in the car because I didn’t want the kids wiping out on slick pavement from the rain.

Good thing, too, because we soon found that several large sections of the trail’s westside were completely underwater, washed out by the rain and surrounding waterway.

Except, even on a dry day, I wonder if scooters would be OK because elsewhere the paved path revealed broken pieces or entire slabs missing so there were quite a few short dropoffs and dips into dirt and gravel.

Scootering with small children outside of your neighborhood is overrated anyway 🙂

Overall, Adam Tallman Nature Park is a fun and easy way to snag a daytime dose of nature with the kids. Although, I’d advise not even trying to walk that whole west side of the trail until the rainy season (or the major rainy season, given PNW standards) stops around here. Here’s a city map on how to get there (scroll to the bottom half).

See ya out there!

Mom and two kids standing with water and boats in the background.

Tonya Strickland is a Gig Harbor mom-of-two, longtime journalist, and Instagram influencer in the family and travel niche. Her blog, Two in Tow & On the Go, was recently named among the 10 Seattle-Area Instagram Accounts to Follow by ParentMap magazine. Tonya and her husband Bowen recently moved to Gig Harbor from California with their two kids, Clara (9) and Wyatt (7). When they’re not adventuring, Tonya stays busy navigating how umbrellas are unacceptable life choices now, giant house spiders exist but only in September, and that salted parking lots are absolutely not weird at all. Find her on Instagram  and Facebook  for all the kid-friendly places in and around Gig Harbor.