Last updated: November 7, 2023
North Lake Tapps Park, a publicly accessible beach on the northern end of the lake, offers visitors an incredible expanse of sandy beaches, grassy areas, walking trails, and miles of shoreline for a variety of watersports in calm, clear, and slightly chilly water.
Lake Tapps is a reservoir in Pierce County, Washington, approximately 35 miles southeast of Seattle and 10 miles east of Tacoma.
The reservoir, which covers an area of approximately 2,700 acres with a maximum depth of 48 feet, is the result of a hydroelectric project by the Puget Sound Energy company in 1911.
Over the years, it has become a popular summer destination for people looking to engage in water-based activities like fishing, swimming, paddling and boating.
I love this park especially for its’ family friendly atmosphere. I love that the time spent in and on the water here never feels crowded, even when it is, and I absolutely adore the mountain view. Its’ the perfect Seattle day trip for families.
Know Before You Go
* Lake Tapps gets extremely crowded on hot summer days. Go early!
* There is an entry fee for parking and use of this great park.
* Bring layers, water shoes, snacks, water and a first aid kit just in case.
How to Get to North Lake Tapps Park
Lake Tapps is 35 miles south of Seattle. The most efficient way to get to there is to drive.
- Take I-5 South from Seattle to WA-167 South.
- From WA-167, take the Stewart Road SW exit, turning left onto Stewart Rd SW and continuing onto Lake Tapps Pkwy SE.
- Continue straight onto 9th St E, and straing onto 12th St E.
- Turn right after approximately 440 feet onto 198th Ave East and you will have arrived at North Lake Tapps Park.
Address 2022 198th Ave E, Bonney Lake, WA 98391
Lake Tapps Hours
November through March, the park is open from 7:30 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon. This is when it’s most peaceful.
From April to the end of September, the park is open from 6:00 in the morning to 8:00 in the evening. The park is not open on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Please check their website before going as hours can change.
Pro Tip: Go early and go on a weekday if at all possible.
Parking and fees for Lake Tapps
Parking is limited, especially on hot summer days and during the weekend. It’s best to arrive early to ensure entry and to obtain a parking space. Walk-ins are not allowed once the parking lot is full. Quite frankly, this is a great rule because it keeps the crowds from getting too large.
There is a fee to park in the lot between May through September. Weekend fees are apply on May 6-7, May 13-14, May 20-21, and September 9-10, 2023, while there is a daily fee between May 27 and September 4.
The daily entry fee is $7/vehicle, $7/motorcycle, $3/seniors and free for disabled American Veterans. The price is subject to change, so check before leaving.
Boat Launch fees and availability
The boat launch is open from April through October. It costs $15/vehicle with trailer, which also includes the cost of parking. The boat launch fee is $5 for seniors.
North Lake Tapps
North Lake Tapps is a truly charming lake that holds a special place in the hearts of many people in Washington state. The lake is has a peaceful ambiance, even with a lot of people.
Whether it’s the sheer size of the lake or the huge amount of green space surrounding it, it never feels as crowded as it probably is.
North Lake Tapps Park is a great place to visit all year round, but during the hot summer months, it becomes an oasis for people looking to cool off and enjoy some fun in the sun.
One of the highlights of the park is its swimming beach, which is a popular spot for visitors to relax and soak up the sun. The beach is sandy and gently sloping, making it an ideal spot for kids to play and for swimmers of all levels to enjoy.
Grassy space with and without shade
For those who prefer to stay on land, the park has a large grassy area that’s perfect for games and sports. Whether you want to play frisbee, throw a ball around, or simply lounge in the sun, the park’s open space is a great place to do it. It’s also a great spot for picnics and outdoor gatherings.
Lake Tapps Boating, kayaking, paddling
With its serene waters and spectacular view of Mt Rainier, the lake is an ideal spot for boating, kayaking, and other water activities. Whether you’re a seasoned boater or a first-time kayaker, the lake offers something for everyone.
You can paddle along the shoreline or you can venture out to the middle of the lake and enjoy the stunning views of Mt Rainier. The park’s boat launch, and the right gear, make it easy to explore the lake.
Lake Tapps Fishing
For those who enjoy fishing, North Lake Tapps Park is an excellent destination to cast a line. The lake is stocked with a variety of fish, including trout and bass, making it an ideal spot for anglers of all skill levels.
There are many areas around the lake where families can fish and enjoy quality time together.
If you arrive early enough, you are almost guaranteed to see people fishing. This is always a huge highlight for little fishermen, and incentive to get up early too.
North Lake Tapps Amenities
The park offers a wide range of amenities and facilities.
- Barbecue grills. The park has several barbecue grills available for visitors to use. This is an excellent option for those looking to enjoy a cookout or picnic with family and friends.
- Restrooms. The park has clean and well-maintained restrooms available for visitors to use.
- Life jacket self-serve kiosk during the summer months. The park has a life jacket self-serve kiosk available during the summer months. This is an excellent option for those who need a life jacket while boating or kayaking on the lake.
What to Bring for a Day Trip to Lake Tapps
A successful and enjoyable day at the lake starts by planning ahead. Bring these basics, so that you can make the most of your time.
Comfortable shoes and Water shoes
Comfortable shoes and water shoes if you prefer that over bare feet. If you’re going to be near water or doing water activities, you may want to consider wearing water shoes instead of going barefoot to protect your feet from sharp objects or rough surfaces.
Water shoes also provide good grip in wet environments.
Bring Layers for all possible weather and a change of clothes. When you’re spending time outdoors, it’s important to prepare for any kind of weather. It’s also a good idea to bring a change of clothes in case you get wet or dirty.
If you’re going to be around water, a swimsuit is a must. Sunscreen is important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Make sure to choose a sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply throughout the day. And don’t forget sunglasses and a towel to dry off after being in the water.
Snacks, water, and trash bag. It’s important to stay hydrated and fueled during outdoor activities. Swimming burns a lot of calories! Bring plenty of water and healthy snacks to keep your energy levels up. And don’t forget to bring a trash bag to pack out any trash you generate.
First aid kit
Bring a first aid kit. Accidents can happen, so it’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit on hand. Make sure your kit includes essentials like bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, and tweezers.
Lastly, I strongly encourage you to bring watercraft of some kind. If you want to make the most of your time at the lake, you’ll need some kind of watercraft. This could be something as simple as a floatie, or as expensive as a kayak, canoe, paddleboard.
Make sure you have the appropriate safety gear, like life jackets and paddles, and that you know how to use your watercraft safely.
Things to Do Nearby
There are many things to do near Lake Tapps, WA, depending on your interests.
✅ Allen Yorke Park
7203 West Tapps Highway E, Bonney Lake, WA 98391
Allan Yorke Park at Lake Tapps is located on the southern shore of the lake, offering visitors a wide range of amenities and activities to enjoy. Covering 45 acres, the park boasts a swimming beach, a boat launch, picnic areas, a playground, and a large sports field.
Apart from its recreational facilities, Allan Yorke Park also hosts several annual events and festivals, including the Tapps Island Summer Concert Series, the Bonney Lake Farmer’s Market, and the Fourth of July Celebration, which make it a vibrant and lively place to visit.
✅ Fennel Creek Hiking Trail
11112 185th Ave E, Bonney Lake, WA 98391
Fennel Creek Trailhead is about 8 miles south of Lake Tapps, hidden in the back of a neighborhood, with a small parking lot that closes at dusk. The Fennel Creek Trail Head is almost a secret, dog-friendly trail.
Visitors can choose to take either a paved, flat path to the left at the trailhead or go right and cross a wooden bridge, which leads to a wooded area beyond. Opting for the latter will take you and your furry companion on a moderate hike, which is the more challenging of the two routes.
✅ Bonney Lake Skate Park
7203 W Tapps Hwy E, Bonney Lake, WA 98391
The Bonney Lake Skate Park is a public skate park located in Bonney Lake, Washington. It’s a popular destination for skateboarders and inline skaters of all ages and skill levels.
The skate park offers various features, such as ramps, bowls, rails, and half-pipes, designed to provide a challenging and fun experience for riders.
✅ Victor Falls
18212 Rhodes Lake Rd E, Bonney Lake, WA 98391
Also known as Fennel Creek Falls, Victor Falls is a beautiful waterfall, a hidden gem that is popular among locals and visitors who enjoy hiking and exploring nature.
The waterfall is tucked away in a small canyon and can only be reached by hiking through a moderate trail that is about a mile long. Victor Falls is about 50 feet tall and drops into a small pool below, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere.
Lake Tapps Restaurants
There are many great restaurants to choose from, near Lake Tapps and within a short driving distance as well.
📍 The Rock Wood Fired Pizza
1408 Lake Tapps Pkwy SE, Auburn, WA 98092
Pizza is always a good idea, right? They also have a variety of great sandwiches, salads and pastas too.
📍 Hops n Drops
1402 Lake Tapps Pkwy SE, Auburn, WA 98092
This restaurant serves fish tacos, sandwiches and some fantastic salads.
📍 Al Lago Restaurant
3110 Sumner Tapps Hwy E, Lake Tapps, WA 98391
It’s hard to beat an Italian eatery that offers take-out by the lake but they have a pretty good view on their own as well. They also served American dishes.
FAQs about Lake Tapps
Answers to some commonly asked questions about visiting Lake Tapps.
North Lake Tapps is a publicly accessible park open to anyone, although hours do vary depending on the season. There are a variety of other parks and trails surrounding Lake Tapps that are for residents only.
Yes, you can swim in Lake Tapps. The lake is a popular destination for swimming, boating, and fishing during the summer months.
Yes, you can kayak on Lake Tapps.
Yes, there is a fee to access Lake Tapps. The fee is charged by the Lake Tapps Park and Recreation District, and it helps fund maintenance and improvements to the lake and surrounding parks.
No, Lake Tapps is not drained every year. However, the lake is managed by the Cascade Water Alliance, which may lower the water level periodically for maintenance or other purposes.
Final Thoughts: Lake Tapps Park
A day spent at Lake Tapps is a beautiful, relaxing and lovely outdoor experience, with a variety of water-based sports, hiking trails and beach activities to enjoy. The area is family-friendly, with something for everyone’s interest, and a great day trip option for those in the Seattle area.