Tag Archive for 'forest'

Walking Discovery Park Beaches

Enjoy this walk through the forest and along the beaches at Discovery Park. It may be challenging for some due to the elevation change.

Discovery Park Beach Route

Start at the North Parking lot – the 33 bus ends here, or follow these driving directions.

Head west from the parking lot – there are two roads leading west from the parking lot, either one will work. There are some restrooms here if needed. Currently, the road that goes left is closed for construction. If that road is back open by the time you get around to hiking this, you can turn left and meet up with us along the Loop Trail, otherwise continue along the road that continues west. Soon, that road will curve left and go uphill. Continue on this road until you reach the Loop Trail, which crosses this road. Turn right onto the Loop Trail.

The loop trail will gradually descend and then cross another paved road. Just past the road, veer right on the Hidden Valley Trail. The Hidden Valley Trail takes you through a densely forested area of the park and descends, sometimes rather steeply, on your way towards the water. It also takes you near the King County Wastewater Treatment Facility.

There will be a sidewalk on your right that will take you further down toward the beach. You will reach a road that you will cross along a marked crosswalk. After crossing the road, feel free to step off the trail to enjoy the view. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see Mount Rainier between the southern bluffs of Magnolia on the left and West Seattle on the right.

Mount Rainier

View from the South Beach of Discovery Park

Go ahead and find a log to sit on and enjoy the view. If it’s a good day, you’ll be able to easily ignore the sometimes off-putting smell of the sound and any trash or dead geoducks on the beach.

Get back on a trail and head westward toward the lighthouse. There are two trails that converge, so either one is fine. Once you reach the trail intersection, you can go straight towards the lighthouse if you want to check it out first. Otherwise, veer right to head toward the North Beach.

The trail will take you back across the road and toward the north beach. From here you can see northeast toward Shilshole Bay Marina and Golden Gardens Park. This trail parallels the waterline for about 2/3 of a mile. After several hundred feet, the beach ends and the trail is separated from the water by trees and a human-made rocky shoreline.

Just as the beach ends, there is a very short detour on your left that will take you by the wetlands. The trail is well-shaded around the wetlands, but then is exposed to the water for much of the rest of the way.

Eventually the trail will turn right and you’ll be directed inland where you’ll have to climb quite a few stairs. This is the difficult part of the journey.

After all the stairs, you will reach a split in the trail – take the less-worn path on the left. This will take you back to a road, which you’ll continue on, past a closed restroom, and then will turn left to re-join the Loop Trail.

Or, if you’d like to keep walking and join up with our Walking Discovery Park Loop Trail walking route, you’d turn right at the Loop Trail.

From here you’ll just backtrack by the way we came. At the next road, the Loop Trail may be closed. If so, turn left and follow this road to the parking lot. If not, continue on the loop trail to the next road, where you’ll turn left and follow this road to the parking lot.

highlights: view from the beaches, forest, lighthouse

lowlights: a bit of a hike if all you want to see is the beach


Walking Schmitz Preserve Park

Schmitz Preserve Park is the only Seattle park with old-growth forest and is a beautifully forested area that makes you feel like you’re in the foothills of the Cascades rather than in West Seattle.

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Schmitz Preserve Park walking route

Schmitz Preserve Park walking route in green

Start at SW Admiral Way and SW Stevens St, which you can get to by the 56 bus. By car, the directions would have you take the West Seattle bridge to the Admiral Way exit and take Admiral Way across West Seattle and turn left on SW Stevens St, where you can often find street parking near the park entrance.

Enter the park entrance near the SW Admiral Way and SW Stevens St intersection. The road into the park used to be open to vehicle traffic until a landslide in 2002. Though this is a fairly small park, there are several different unsigned trails. If you take a wrong turn, it won’t be too difficult to find your way back. The trail can be somewhat uneven and muddy, but is not too difficult overall.

Walk along the main park road and, at the fork in the trail, veer right downhill. At the next fork, take a left before crossing the creek.

Continue walking and you’ll cross over the stream a couple times. Keep right at the next intersection (turning left will take you back to the entrance) and continue deeper into the park. There are some sections of the park soil that remain damp, though fortunately there are a few boardwalks that keep your feet dry over the worst parts.

You’ll approach an intersection of several different trails. The left-most path will take you into the surrounding neighborhood. Take the trail second from left even farther into the park. The other trails on the right will take you back along the other side of the creek.

This path continues along the stream. Turn right at the next fork to loop back, otherwise you will enter the surrounding neighborhood.

This section of the trail is fairly straight and a little elevated from the creek. Stay straight along this main trail and after passing a side trail to the left, you’ll reach another intersection. Turn right here to cross the creek and the next intersection may seem familiar. Turn left and then left again to return to the main entrance.

Highlights: old growth forest, quiet, not very busy, multiple trails, cool and damp, stream

Lowlights: can be muddy, unsigned trails


Walking Seward Park

Seward Park is a large park on a peninsula extending into Lake Washington in the southeast part of the city. The trail around the perimeter of the park is a great place for a lake-side stroll.

View Walking Seward Park in a larger map

You can get here by vehicle or by taking the 39 bus.

We’ll start at the park entrance at Lake Washington Blvd S and S Juneau St. Between the entry and exit lanes at the entrance is a small wooded area, which has a stone lantern from the city of Yokohama.

From here, veer right so as to go counter clockwise around the peninsula. There is a sidewalk that parallels the parking lot. You can take this sidewalk or walk through the parking lot to be closer to the water. On a clear day, you’ll soon see Mount Rainier to the right, which looks beautiful behind the water of Lake Washington and the forested hill of Mercer Island.

Mount Rainier from Seward Park

Mount Rainier on a clear summer day from the south shore of Seward Park

As you continue walking, the path will curve left along the shore and head north. The path widens in this area as well, which is good since Seward Park is a popular place for families, joggers, and walkers. This area of the park is well shaded in the afternoon. Across the water to the right you’ll see the boat docks and extravagant homes on Mercer Island.

The path stays fairly straight for a while, until it reaches the northern tip of the park, where the shore bends to the left. From here you can see the I-90 bridge across the water to the north and depending on the time of day and time of year, you might have some sun in your eyes, especially on a summer afternoon. There is a beach on your right, which is popular with children. You can also see the tops of some buildings in Seattle’s skyline.

You’ll walk westward for less than 1,000 feet before turning left to go southward along the west side of the peninsula. You may see several boats parked in this part of the water. There are also some calm parts along the shore that are covered with plant life.

As you get closer to the entrance, you’ll pass the bathhouse and art studio. There is another beach in this area. You can circumnavigate the small parking lot here by staying along the sidewalk, or continue straight. Soon you’ll be back at where we started, and our walk finishes there at the Seward Park entrance.

Highlights: wide path, forest, beautiful view of Mount Rainier, surrounded by Lake Washington, beach, quiet, picnic tables

Lowlights: parking lots sometimes get in the way of sidewalks, can be busy, parking can be difficult to find within the park, not conveniently located