8.31.2012

Field Trip: Discovery Park

I've been in Seattle for just about two weeks and have already been to Discovery Park twice.  According to the Seattle Parks & Recreation website Discovery Park is a 534 acre natural area park operated by the Seattle Parks and Recreation. It is the largest city park in Seattle, and occupies most of the former Fort Lawton site.  The site is one of breathtaking majesty. Situated on Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound, Discovery Park offers spectacular view of both the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges. The secluded site includes two miles of protected tidal beaches as well as open meadow lands, dramatic sea cliffs, forest groves, active sand dunes, thickets and streams.

The awesome part to this story is one of the trail heads is a quick two and half block walk from my front door!  While the weather is nice I plan to take advantage of this park as much as I can.

Our first visit to Discovery Park was a sort of fail.  We went looking for the beach and were not equipped for the brisk, but quick hike.  We were all in slippers (flip-flops if you are not in the know that those of us from Hawaii call them slippers), no bottles of water handy and armed with a bunch of kites.  We drove in from the main entrance located off of Government Way in Magnolia.  We were blown away by the size and beauty of the park.  Lush green foliage and amazing trees all around.  We followed the signs looking for parking and then we set off.  Just off the North Parking lot is a huge green space where lots of people were sunbathing, picnicking and flying kites.  Instead of doing the sensible thing and grabbing a map we just headed out on one of the paved trails and hoped for the best.  Wrong!  We hiked and hiked and hiked, remember all in slippers which provided no support.  When we realized that we were not seeing any sand at the end of the tunnel, and the kids starting to whine and complain we called it a day and headed back to the car.  
The Main Trail 

When the kids were still smiling & excited

Big Red & Crash = troopers!
Our second visit to Discovery Park was much more successful.  We had heard that the park was littered with black berries and the weather was now sunny and warm so we decided to make a day of it.  My mom had been in town and we thought she would really enjoy the park.  We went with no agenda and had a FANTASTIC time.  NOTE: We did a little bit of research on the interwebs so as not to totally bum the kids out should we make any mention of finding the beach/bay/lighthouse.


Again we parked in the North Parking lot and head up the main trail following all the marker for the North Beach Trail.  The walk was long, the weather was hot and we were in prime shape for picking blackberries.  The foraging did not disappoint.  We filled up our bucket with more berries then we needed!  Before I continue I want to wrap up the blackberry portion of the hike.  We picked a bucket full of berries, brought them home, washed them and I flash froze all but about 3-cups of berries.  With the berries I left out I turned 2-cups of them into a puree to make a blackberry swirl poundcake and to use the leftover puree as a beautiful mix in to my greek yogurt and as shmear on toast.  Yum!





Anyway we followed the North Beach Trail all the way to its end, which by the way were a set of stairs heading down to a very forested path (on the way back we learned you can actually get to this point quicker by taking the Loop Trail at the start of the hike).  As a note, we took our stroller for Crash and it was fine while we were following the trail.  When we reached the stairs there was no way of taking the stroller down.  I guess if you wanted to fold yours up and carry it down you cold.  I however, did not.  I took out any valuables from the stroller and parked the stroller at the new trail head.  We headed down the steps and it was dark and forestry and reminded me lots of Tryon Creek State Park in Portland.  There were a few sets of steps along the trail, some mud and lots of big tree roots to climb over.  This offered a nice reprieve from all the sun and heat we were previously walking in.  

This first portion of the trail ended up at a small cove facing Shilshole Bay.  This was a great resting spot and the kids were besides themselves seeing the "ocean!"  The splashed around a bit in the water, looked at shells and seaweed, caught their breath and we continued on the second portion of the trail, which followed the coastline.  The view from the trail was beautiful (and so was the berry picking!).  What seemed like a while, but really was it, we finally reached all the beach access points.  We took the first access point and headed for the water.  We were determined to reach West Point Lighthouse.  

The kids, and us adults, had a great time wandering along the beach.  The boys found a ton of clam shells and bits of crabs.  I say bits because they were literally bits:  a leg here, a body there etc.... We finally reached the lighthouse and just hung out for a bit taking in all the nature and beauty around us.

One of the homes at Fort Lawton
West Point Lighthouse
Me & T
Crash & Big Red enjoying the beach and all the driftwood
T on the shore
Beauty
Crash burying herself at West Point Lighthouse
Heading back after a long day!
Mother Nature kicks some serious ass!
I'm sure we'll be taking advantage of all the trails Discovery Park has to offer.  Kids and adults of all ages are able to participate.  You can hike as little or as much as you can endure, just don't forget to grab a map!  Not only great for hiking but there are greens paces that would be great fun for a picnic and kite flying which I would love to do this upcoming labor day weekend.  Also located within Discovery Park is the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center which has pristine views from its location!

Discovery Park details:
Address:  3801 Discovery Park Blvd, WA 98199
Park Hours:  6 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Visitor Center Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Tues - Sun; Closed Holidays)
Directions


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