Chambers Creek

A perfect afternoon for exploration.

It was an early September day, warm, but with a high cloud cover.  It was maybe not the best day for taking photos although sometimes a soft cloud cover can be nice.  I wanted out of the house and had this nearby location (Chambers Creek) on my list of places to visit, so off I went.

Chambers Creek is a number of things.  It’s a wonderful creek that flows almost 3 miles through residential areas in Pierce County, south of Tacoma.  Chambers Creek Canyon Park, comprised of 195 acres of naturally wooded area, hugs both sides of the creek and has miles of trails, such that you almost never see the homes or other buildings around you.  Near the lower end of the creek, there is an “impoundment” area of water (a small lake) created by a small dam.  Just downstream of the dam, Chambers Creek empties into a brackish tidal estuary (salt and fresh water) which becomes a small saltwater bay (Chambers Bay) which opens into Puget Sound.  Chambers Creek has quite a life!

In the Google Earth screenshot above, Puget Sound is to the left.  You can see the dark green area of trees that border the creek running east-west.  The red arrow points to the dam that creates the “impoundment” lake.  Just south of the dam is the point where the creek empties into the saltwater estuary.  The yellow arrow points to the spot where the bay empties into Puget Sound.

The dam is right where the borders of three towns meet at a point:  Lakewood, University Place, and Steilacoom.  I could have stood with one foot in each of two towns, and then leaned over and touched the third town with my hand.  It wasn’t like being at the center of the universe (not that I know how that feels).  I didn’t feel any special powers or magical emanations, but it was fun. 🙂

Originally, the bay was wide open to the sound, but the railroad between Seattle and points south necessitated a bridge in this location, so large rock rip-rap was installed along with other structural support for the railway … along with a short bridge that would allow the saltwater (and a bit of freshwater from Chambers Creek) to flow in and out with the tide.

The areas I explored this day were the dam (the red arrow), the lake behind the dam, and a short distance upriver on two of the trails.

The photo above is the view from the dam looking south, downstream, over the lower end of Chambers Creek (the creek is over on the right side of the photo).  At high tide, saltwater floods this area.  I bet it would be a great place to watch Great Blue Heron fish on the incoming tide.

This is the dam.  It was built to create the “impoundment” lake for fishing.  There is a fish ladder on each side of the dam.  There are plans to remove the dam and let the area return to its natural state.

Here’s the fish ladder (above) on the far side of the creek, below the dam.  There was another just like that one on my side of the creek.

The top of the dam.  This walkway was gated and locked on my side.  Without this walkway, it would have been a long walk upriver to the nearest bridge, then back down the road on the other side of the river, just to get to the other side of the dam.  With this walkway, worker-folk can walk back and forth over the top of the dam.

The next few photos are of plants in the immediate area.

Thistles past their prime.

I don’t know what this is … anyone know?

I don’t know what this is either.

The ever-present cattail.

This was the western entrance to the trails along the south side of the creek.  Notice the paper bag sitting in front of the garbage can.  A moment or two after I took this photo, a fellow came walking out of the woods and dropped an empty pop can into the paper bag.  He told me that someone started putting a paper bag here for recyclables.  When it gets full, the person who adds the last item replaces it with an empty bag, and takes the full bag away to the recycler.  He said that’s been happening for several years.

I walked a short way on a few trails and found absolutely no garbage anywhere.  The woods were so beautiful and peaceful.

Eventually, I wandered over to the “impoundment” lake.  It sure was pretty too!

Obviously, some beaver people lived here.

These people were doing catch-and-release fishing … dad and his daughter and dad’s buddy.  When I got closer and they noticed me, I waved and held up the camera to indicate I was taking photos.  The two guys did a thumbs-up and smiled so I took that as permission to take a few more photos.

Dad was a good fisherman!  He kept catching fish.  And his daughter insisted on being the one to release each fish back into the water.

Lots and lots and lots of ducks here.  And lots of peace and quiet and calm.  And really nice people.  And one big frog that leaped from a floating bunch of leaves into the water just as I saw him/her, before I had the sense to tread softly and slowly.  I sure was glad I decided to go for a drive today.

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9 Responses to Chambers Creek

  1. BACCHUS Bob says:

    🙁 (Unhappy face here). Second time to add my comments. The gotcha got me. Simple math, who knew…

    Anyways, Ann,

    Wonderful photos and narrative, as usual. Thank you for showing us some of these wonderful areas we have right here in our backyard.

    • Ann says:

      You are welcome, Bob. Since I started exploring and seeking out places like this, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many there are. I’ll keep exploring … and I’ll keep sharing. Thanks for the nice words. 🙂

  2. Ginger D says:

    I’m glad you went for a drive too. I enjoyed the pictures.
    That’s pretty neat about the recycling bag.

  3. September is one of my favorite months. Now, in the midst of a huge cold lake effect blizzard I miss September profoundly. Lovely pics. I like the one of the three fisher-people through the leaves…

    • Ann says:

      Hi Dawn,
      Been reading about that huge cold front on the Bayfield blog and “Seasons” blog and others. The photos are sure pretty, but I’m also sure glad I don’t live there! We just had 1.5 inches of snow here which melted within two days, and that’s plenty! 🙂

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