Perhaps we should have waited for dry weather before visiting this beautiful Seattle Park but after a few stormy days we needed to get out of the house. And so, armed with rain gear and resolve we headed out to the west side of Lake Washington and found Seward Park almost deserted, save for a few brave joggers and dog walkers.
Seward Park sits on the Bailey Peninsula which extends into Lake Washington, and includes 300 acres of old growth forest, miles of hiking trails, shoreline and beaches and picnic areas. We took the 2.4 mile paved loop trail around the perimeter of the park which gave us views of the lake and Mercer Island, and many varieties of trees including douglas fir, madrona, oak, maple, and weeping willow.
Bob and I grew up in Seattle and have childhood memories of picnicking and swimming at Seward Park, and visiting the fish hatchery, which has long since closed down. Neither of us had been here much recently and we were reminded what a special place it is, thanks to our city forefathers.
Seward Park was established by the City of Seattle in 1911, under the comprehensive plan created by the Olmstead Brothers in 1903. The firm was notable for many high-profile projects including the roadways in the Great Smoky Mountains, Acadia National Park, and Yosemite Valley. John Charles Olmsted, the firm’s senior partner was the stepson of Frederick Law Olmstead, considered to be America’s first landscape architect and who designed many notable urban parks including Central Park in New York and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
We’re still enjoying the benefits of the comprehensive plan that not only included Seward Park, but also other gems such as Lake Washington Boulevard, Washington Park and Arboretum, Volunteer Park, Green Lake, Woodland Park and Discovery Park.
We decided to return a few weeks later to explore more of Seward Park, without the rain. Visibility was much better and we were treated to views of Mt. Rainier.
This time we took one of the trails through the center of the park and enjoyed the old growth forest in solitude.
When we emerged from the forest the lake was calm and reflective and we caught a glimpse of the Seattle skyline. It wasn’t so long ago when I spent everyday in one of those skyscrapers, not traipsing around Seattle’s parks. Time for us to reflect too.