Seattle’s Seward Park, Rain or Shine

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.

~ Susanne

After the Storm

We heard the wind howling in the night but woke to overcast skies and promising sunbreaks.  We thought we could beat the storm’s next wave and so headed out to Coulon Park for a morning walk.  We found everything windswept, clean and fresh, and eagles soaring overhead.

Golden Larch trees were clustered together and at their peak color.

This tree stood alone, uncovered, desolate and beautiful against mostly blue skies.

Sailboats were safely moored and undeterred as always.

But skies grew grayer over the boat launch.

We made it back without wind or rain. We love this walk.

~  Susanne

A Walk on the Cedar River Trail

What a difference a day makes!  This morning brought brief snow flurries to the region (the earliest I can remember) but yesterday was mild with only light rain. I’m happy we took our walk on the Cedar River Trail yesterday. The Trail follows the river 17 miles beginning from the Cedar River watershed in the south, through Maple Valley and Renton in the north, to where the river flows into Lake Washington.  We often walk the northern portion of the trail where it passes by the Renton Boeing Plant but found yesterday’s walk further south even better.

We accessed the trail at the Cedar River Park on the Maple Valley Highway and found it quieter and less traveled as it weaved through park and forest.  Fall colors were brilliant and leaves still abundant on the trees and the ground. The fragrance brought up childhood memories of when we’d pile up the fallen leaves and jump into them with abandon.

We saw spawning salmon making their way slowly up the river home, and some who’d already completed their mission.

And we found this part of the trail had gone to the dogs.

Yes, these dogs have their own park and were happily running and chasing newfound friends.

As I am writing this tiny snowflakes are still falling.  Perhaps yesterday was fall’s last hurrah.

~ Susanne

Icicle Creek and Wenatchee

Day 2 of our road trip to Leavenworth and we awoke to another sunny day and headed to nearby Icicle Creek.  (You can see the story and pictures from Day 1 here if you missed it.)

Icicle Creek originates near the crest of the Cascades and flows into the Wenatchee River near Leavenworth.  This wilderness area draws hikers, campers, and rock climbers.

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It also draws serious backpackers to one of the most popular hikes in the country:  The Enchantments in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

According to the Washington Trails Association website:  “In the Enchantments, nature has carved one of the magnificent places of this world–an alpine paradise of granite worn smooth by glaciers, larches manicured by wind and cold, and crystal blue lakes strung together by a creek that tumbles and thunders between them. Seemingly everywhere, herds of mountain goats calmly wander by. Superlatives simply don’t suffice, and you quickly find yourself resorting to otherworldly comparisons, just like the early visitors who bestowed place names like Aasgard, Sprite and Leprechaun on the fairytale surroundings.”

We stopped by the trail head to check it out.

No we did not take the hike. It’s challenging for even the strongest hiker and requires a minimum of two days (and that assumes you have the coveted permits, determined months in advance by lottery.)  It’s a hike that every backpacker in the state dreams about doing.  Bob did it once and we have the pictures to prove it.

Enchanting, yes, but not for me.  I never did take to backpacking. I had one failed attempt in high school and never tried again. (But that’s another story.)

After our fill of Icicle Creek we moved on to Wenatchee where we stopped for lunch at the Pybus Public Market and took a walk along the Columbia River.

The paved Apple Capital Loop Trail follows the river and has boat ramps, playgrounds, a railway, and sculptures. My favorite is PED.

Amazing that in just two days time we had covered so much ground, enjoyed sunshine and forests and mountains and flowing rivers all adorned in fall color.  A wonderful time for sure but it’s always good to be back home.

~Susanne

Road Trip to Leavenworth

A couple of sunny fall days in the forecast so we packed our bags for an overnight trip to Leavenworth.  I had to remove the stowaway who was hoping to tag along.  (Sorry Benji, you wouldn’t like the car ride.)

The sun was shining and the road was bare as we headed northeast on Highway 2, surrounded by mountains and rivers, all lit up with fall color.

We stopped for pictures of Mt Index and were reminded to be on the alert for Bigfoot who is known to frequent the area. (We didn’t see him.)

We continued over Stevens Pass, until we ended up alongside the Wenatchee River, beautiful Tumwater Canyon and finally Leavenworth.

Leavenworth was once a dying logging town but reinvented itself as a Bavarian Village in the nineteen sixties.  It’s now a popular travel destination with charming shops, restaurants and festivals.

After settling into our hotel, we went out for lunch and some shopping.  Not surprisingly I was able to find a few things to buy, before walking down to Waterfront Park where the Wenatchee River flows through town.

Hard to believe all this beauty happened on day one.  On day two, we traveled to nearby Icicle Creek and the trailhead to the Enchantments, a famous backpack into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.  We also stopped by Wenatchee to visit the Market and take a walk along the mighty Columbia. Too many pictures and more story to tell, so I will save that for my next post.

Until then,

~  Susanne

Nolte State Park in Color

There’s never a bad time to visit Nolte State Park.  We’ve made the drive south many times to get away from the city, breathe in fresh air and walk the trail through the forest around lovely Deep Lake. We were there in January when the only colors were green and brown and the lake was frozen over.

And again in the spring when the trees were waking up in chartreuse on a rainy day in May.

But today under sunshine and clear skies, the fall version of the Park was something new and wonderful to us as brilliant colors mingled with the evergreens and reflected in the lake.

I guess you could say fall is my new favorite time to visit Nolte.

Till next time,

~ Susanne