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Seward Park, Seattle—December 2000

It's easy to forget that we have some wonderful parks right in metropolitan Seattle. When the weather is fine, our thoughts turn to more distant spots, but in the month of December when we often wake up to darkness and rain, it's a better choice to stay close to home. Seward Park is a familiar urban park with a trail circling the park at water's edge—heavily used for biking and running. But the upper reaches of the park are magnificent and contain some of the oldest and largest trees in the Seattle metropolitan area.

Across from the kiosk in the parking area (directions below), two trails are visible. Take the left one and soon you will walk into another world, one of old trees and quiet groves. There are large, imposing conifers of three species: Douglas fir, western red cedar, and western hemlock. Moreover, the big-leaf maples here are truly magnificent. Many are covered with beautiful licorice fern. The understory is a mix of Indian plum, vine maple, thimbleberry, salmonberry, red elderberry, salal, Oregon grape, sword fern, and dewberry. Passing over two boardwalks with lots of youth-on-age, look on the right for a downed big-leaf maple "nurse log" with numerous other big-leaf maples sprouting from it. Watch for gaps in the canopy where large trees have fallen, leaving sunny spots for understory species to grow and for new trees to start. The trail passes through a beautiful cedar grove. In this park, ivy and holly are both major problems. Look at the trees to see areas "before" and "after" major ivy removal efforts by park personnel and volunteers.

At the first junction, stay left. There are numerous side trails which connect with the paved lakeside trail. Keep near the ridge and you'll soon come to a junction with a wide, gravelled trail. There are a kiosk and map here. For a short walk, go right, following the road back to the parking lot. For a longer route, go left and explore other trails down to the water's edge. The distance is anywhere from ¾ to 2 miles, depending on how many side routes you explore. This is a perfect choice for a walk with children.

To reach the trailhead, drive south along the shore of Lake Washington, past the I-90 bridge, to a stop sign at a three-way intersection. Drive left into the park and head uphill (following sign to Picnic Area, Amphitheater). Park on the right at the top of the hill at the first parking area. Restrooms are located here and at the park entrance.



Updated: July 3, 2016
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