Northwest Trek: A Fabulous Family Adventure

Last Updated on April 29, 2021

We love animals. We cannot get enough of them. Animals are absolutely incredible and should be looked upon and treated as such. After hearing so much about the Northwest Trek, we knew we had to take a look at this Wilderness Park and Nature Preserve.

Northwest Trek was a fun place to spend the day learning about animals that are native to the northwest. The free roam area was great; the animals had much more space to roam through 435 acres of meadows, lakes and woods. From the open-air tram you could see a number of animals in the semi-wild; it was almost like going on a safari.

The driver seemed to know everything there was to know about all the animals we came across. The open-air tram was also wonderful for taking pictures as there was no glass between you and the animals hindering your view or camera shot during the 50 minute ride.











It was wonderful to find out from the tram driver that the land was donated to Metro Parks Tacoma by Doc and Connie Hellyer who, according to the driver, turned down an offer of a million dollars to make their dream a reality: preserving a natural home for animals and letting those who visit fall in love with nature.

Wandering around the trails for the self guided walk to see the other more exotic animals was a relaxing stroll through old growth forests. We loved what a close view you could get of these animals as well, while still being kept safe.  You can view American Black Bears, a Grizzly Bear (it is massive!), Red Foxes, Lynx, Beavers and more.





We felt the habitats were quite spacious compared to what we have seen during other “zoo” visits and the animals seemed to be well cared for as well. Walking between the exhibits, you really felt that you were in the middle of the forest. The forest path is also nice and smooth; perfect to push a stroller around to be able to include the little ones as well, even when their legs get tired.





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We also loved how much information was at each viewing point. We learned so much that we did not know before. Some facts we thought were interesting were:

  1. The difference in size between larger brown bears and grizzlies is said to be due to their available nutrition options, rather than genetics.
  2. There are less than 1,000 grizzly bears within the western United States. It is listed as an endangered species by the state of Washington.
  3. Bears are really not unpredictable killers prone to unprovoked attacks on humans. Most bears actually have a natural fear of people and will avoid humans if at all possible.

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Did you know this? We didn’t!

Northwest Trek is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. Northwest Trek was a great family-oriented place to spend a morning and afternoon exploring. It was a great place for both kids and adults to get up close to many incredible animals in a controlled natural habitat.

Some tips we found to be most helpful for our visit to the wildlife park were:

  1. Go early – Go before the heat of the day and when the animals are most active during the morning hours. We were able to see a ton of animals after arriving at opening. Not only did we see a ton of animals, but it was a lot busier when we were finished our exploring.
  2. Watch The Time – Ensure you arrive ten minutes early for your tram ride so you don’t miss out. The tram will be one of the highlights of your visit to Northwest Trek, so don’t miss out! Window seats will give you the best view and are easiest for taking photos so you aren’t falling over the person beside you the whole time.
  3. Dress To Walk – You will be doing a lot of walking around the trails, so make sure you wear appropriate and comfortable footwear and clothing.
  4. Talk To Naturalists – The naturalists are just full of information about the animals that they want to tell you. Passionate about the animals, it is wonderful to see the excitement as they talk all about animals they love.
  5. Trailside Encounters – Check the encounter times and locations and make note of them as you pass by so you don’t miss out on a cool experience.

Where is a wilderness park you have enjoyed?


Our visit was sponsored by Northwest Trek, but as always, our opinions are our own.