Creek is a small, spring-fed tributary to the Puyallup River. The
creek flows from its headsprings near Clarks Creek Park, through
the city of Puyallup, including Clarks Creek and Decoursey Parks,
to the river. While chum returns to Clarks Creek are relatively
small (averaging 400 fish per year from 1992-2001), spawning is
confined to a relatively small portion of the stream, creating a
good opportunity for viewing the fish.
The creek is
accessible to salmon from the mouth to a water supply dam near the
headsprings, around 3.7 miles total. The lower portion of the creek
is low-gradient, soft-bottomed stream, with little suitable spawning
habitat for salmon. The upper half-mile of stream, thanks in part
to restoration efforts of local groups, offers ideal spawning habitat.
To allow viewing
of spawning salmon, a footbridge with viewing platforms was built
by the Pierce Conservation District, with cooperation of several
groups (see below). In addition, log weirs were placed in the stream
using USFWS funds. The logs help to hold spawning gravel and create
channel diversity for adult and juvenile salmon. An interpretive
sign near the bridge explains the salmon life cycle and the purpose
of habitat improvements to the creek.
chum are a winter run stock, with adults returning to the stream
from late November to late January, with mid-December offering the
best opportunity for seeing chum. Chinook and coho salmon are also
present in the stream earlier in the fall.
offers the unique opportunity of viewing salmon in an easily accessible
park setting. The creek is surveyed for spawning salmon each fall
to provide valuable data on salmon returns. Surveyors leave behind
easily recognizable flagging marking salmon redds, the term for
spots in the stream bed where salmon have buried eggs. Visitors
looking carefully at the stream near the flag markers will see the
distinct pattern left in the gravel by spawning salmon, even after
the salmon are gone (Please do not disturb the flagging or the stream
of the area surrounding Upper Clarks Creek is within Clarks Creek
Park in the City of Puyallup, open daily to visitors. Upstream of
the park, much of the land is owned by the State of Washington,
and is also open to visitors unless otherwise posted. The footbridge
offers the best location for viewing salmon, and it is reachable
by a moderate trail through the woods (often muddy in the late fall
and winter) from the Clarks Creek Park parking lot, or by a short
walk on gravel road from the Puyallup Trout Hatchery. The creek
is visible from several other spots along nearby trails.
Purpose: Clarks Creek offers the opportunity to view spawning salmon in a
natural setting, in an easily accessible city park.
When: The park is open year round, but adult salmon are generally present
in varying number from late September through January, with chum
salmon primarily in December.
to get there: Take Hwy 512 to Puyallup. Exit at Meridan St exit,
and turn south. Turn right at 15th Ave SE. Turn right at 14th St
SW. Easiest access to the viewing bridge is from Puyallup Trout
Hatchery, which will be on the left. The bridge is to the left rear
of the hatchery grounds.
Open to the
public: The Puyallup Trout Hatchery parking lot is open daily
from 8:00–4:30. Clarks Creek Park is open daily.
Partners: Partners in the Clarks Creek bridge construction and stream restoration
included: Pierce Conservation District, South Puget Sound Salmon
Enhancement Group, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, City of Puyallup,
Puyallup Tribe, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.