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Discovery Park Loop - February 2011

By Erin Meier

Really how many cups of tea can you drink? Put down that novel and let's head outside. The Loop Trail at Discovery Park is only 2.8 miles long. Even on a rainy winter day, it's a relaxing jaunt for your average plant enthusiast. Discovery Park is located near the Ballard Locks and Magnolia. This park is an interesting study to plant enthusiasts. Native plants intermix with opportunistic ornamentals that were planted in the 1890's when Fort Lawton was erected. In 1972 several hundred acres were dedicated to create Discovery Park. Extensive trails lead over bluffs, through forest and even to the beach.

Starting at the Visitor's Center, I set out on the Loop Trail heading towards South Beach. The walk starts pleasantly in woodland. Small Alnus rubra were just budding as I sauntered past. Rubus ursinus vines wound through the reddish maple leaves that littered the ground. An Arbutus menziesii came into view at the top of the hill, and this was not the only interesting tree I sighted. I also stumbled onto Abies grandis and Pinus contorta in the course of my walk. Just past the South Parking Lot, there were two magnificent Acer macrophyllum, which I longed to climb, though my sensible walking shoes did not.

As you come upon the bluffs, you'll see a staggering view of Puget Sound and the Olympics. I had a hard time tearing myself away, though the rest of the walk was extremely pleasant. At one point the trail takes you through a lovely ravine, awash in ferns such as: Polypodium glycyrrhiza, Polystichum munitum, Adiantum pedatum and Blechnum spicant. Coming out of the ravine I ran into a flock of starlings flitting to and fro in the branches of a Sambucus racemosa. In a beautiful setting such as Discovery Park, I find that even starlings can be charming.

Directions: From downtown take Elliot Ave towards Ballard. It will turn into 15th Ave West. Take the Dravus Street exit, turn left and then right at 20th Avenue West. This turns into Gilman Avenue West. Take a left onto West Fort Street (becomes West Government Way) and you'll see signs for the park shortly.

 



Updated: July 3, 2016
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