Published on May 18th, 2015 | by Bryce Smith3
Skate Tacoma: the designated spots
Originally published June 2014.
With national Go Skateboarding Day around the corner and our own Go Skate Tacoma about to take over Tollefson Plaza’s Red Blocks in June—complete with skate clinics, sessions, competitions, and prize giveaways—I thought it excellent and due timing for an inventory of Tacoma’s skate parks.
Moreover, I don’t mind my inaugural piece for Post Defiance featuring something I’ve been doing around this town for more than a decade now. So here it is: a complete list of Tacoma’s skate park offerings.
(A side note: if anything’s changed or is incorrect, don’t hesitate to let me know.)
I thought I’d begin with a classic, my own local park. I began frequenting this park when my dress code for school and the park itself were both of a bluish color, but Hunt Middle School has long been closed and the park painted over with a Washingtonian’s green since.
Located in the north end of Foss High School’s and Cheney Stadium’s adjoining parking lot, right behind Heidelberg-Davis Park, it’s highly gmaps directable (Pierce Transit’s #2bus has a stop above the restored Clay Huntington Road, which takes you straight there). The combination concrete/metal park has a relatively limited low number of features, but uses what it has very well, as most visitors will say.
There’s a water fountain/snack bar open as long as there’s a baseball game happening at Heidelberg-Davis Park, a Fred Meyer on the other side of 19th Street, and both a 7-11 and Shell Station a short way down Tyler Street. Not too shabby a setup for a summer’s day o’ skate.
UP has everything for everyone of all skill levels—it’s the quintessential park of the Tacoma area, wherein lies its only drawback: on any given day, especially during peak hours, it’s busy with everyone from all modes of extreme sport of all skill levels. Years back, local police would ticket people for riding without a helmet. Not too sure whether that’s still a problem, but it is certainly something to consider.
The park is located in the north corner of Cirque Bridgeport Park, running alongside Cirque Drive West, and boasts a concrete/Skatelite combination: A snake run with three separate bowls of varying depth, one spine, a vert wall, a detached 10’ peanut bowl, a 7-stair rail/hubba setup, a Skatelite kiddies section, and spined Skatelite halfpipes. A minute’s skate from the park at Cirque & Bridgeport’s intersection sit Walgreens, 7-11, and a 76 station (Pierce Transit’s #2 route has a drop there too). Catch this park on a good day and you’ll tire out long before you get bored.
Stewart Heights Skate Park, known familiarly as Fifty-Six, is located outside Stewart Heights Park’s Parking lot, right off South 56th Street. This “prefab” park turned concrete in 2010 and sports most notably sports a nice box-gap-box setup andwith a downrail that acts as great handrail-height prep.
Locals did have a say concerning its renovation, though the finished product didn’t turn out that well. I feel it would have been in everyone’s interest to maintain the old one—hindsight being 20/20, of course.
A 5-minute skate from the park down 56th St. will land you at a Walgreens and Jack in the Box opposite each other at the Pacific Ave and S. 56th St. intersection (Pierce Transit’s #56 and #1); head 2 minutes up 56th st. and you’ll find a reasonably priced corner store with fantastic hot food. Whether or not they know how build a skate park, Metro Parks Tacoma doesn’t do too bad a job placing them.
Having not been to this park in a couple years I took to the internet and, aside from a picture of the “banks n’ boxes” section and a few perfunctory entries in skate park inventorying websites, there isn’t much out there.
It’s a concrete park with lots to offer: Two unenclosed bowls, a half pipe, a 4-stair downrail, a “banks n’ boxes” section, and the layout itself encourage creativity. It’s located in the corner of Kiwanis Park, southeast of the intersection at Steilacoom Blvd Sw and Bridgeport Way SW (Pierce Transit’s #2 is clutch). The surrounding area doesn’t offer much by way of refreshments (that I remember) other than a Shell Station at the intersection, but it’s convenient enough. Give it a skate and regard how the locals use the pieces—it’ll make for a crafty session.
I saved the best for last: Sprinker Skate Park includes features large and small, street and vert, all wrapped in a beautifully dense layout. Perhaps the greatest, or rather my favorite, feature is the ability to focus on any particular element—say the quarter pipe at the far end of the snake run or the 14’ lens—without snaking (interrupting) others. The open design allows for the conscientious skater to coordinate their runs well without pissing anyone else off. The beginner-friendly features are well separated from the advanced, so collisions of that nature are rare (another plight skaters can encounter at UP, and there there’s a physical partition).
The internet abounds with pictures and local videos of this park so I won’t undermine it with too many words, just give it a google. It has bleachers—that suggests enough. It’s located in the rear of the Sprinker Recreation Center right off Pacific Avenue (Pierce Transit’s #1) with refreshment sources plenty: McDonalds, Jack in the Box, Pizza Hut, Walgreens—there’s even a donut shop. (How do you define perfect?) Check out the locals’ footy, gather $10 for food and fare, and get out to this park.
I should also add an honorable mention: although it isn’t a skate park per se, Kandle Park holds a very stellar five foot bowl and a skateable bank/ledge (couple of “jib” rocks, too, if that’s your fancy).
The list is complete. I don’t feel I’ve left anything out. Nope. Not a single park. I would, however, like to address the poor crack that is McKinley Skate Park because it serves as a significant reminder to civic responsibility.
If you’d like to see what happens without proper consultation — in this case, the consultation of the local skating community — go visit the concrete fumble off McKinley Avenue. From the Dome District, it’s just after the overpass following the Tacoma Dome.
Lastly, here are three others, not in Tacoma, but worth the trip.
Seatac Skate Park was renovated last summer. CHECK IT OUT. Located in the Neighborhood Park at the Seatac Community Center, it’s a tedious bus ride (Sound Transit’s 594 to Seattle, then Metro Transit’s 132 going South) but absolutely worth it.
Gig Harbor Skate Park at the Civic Center off Grandview Street (Pierce Transit’s 100).
Federal Way Skate Park at the south side of Steel Lake Park (Pierce Transit’s 500, 501, or Sound Transit’s 574—it’s a walk from the Federal Way Transit Center).
Those are your skate park options, Tacomites, now get out there and skate them.
Let’s not waste a second of this fleeting favorable weather.