Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Take a hike

It continues to amaze me the amount of hikes we can do within West Seattle for those times when we want to feel like we’re in the forest but don’t feel like driving in a car for an hour.

Here’s a list of our favorite spots along with some new ones we explored last summer. 

Camp Long 
5200 35th Ave SW

This has always been a favorite park of ours over the years. There’s a series of trails to hike along with a pond to explore, a huge field to play in and two rock climbing areas for a lot of different adventure options in one.

The trails are fairly well marked and here’s a map you could print out. There are several ways to do a loop around the park that can be tailored in length. You’ll also see the other amazing parts of the park—the environmental center, rustic cabins you can rent overnight and a rope course.

Parking: Large lot by the lodge and street parking outside the main gates on SW Dawson Street and on SW Brandon Street. There is also street parking by a back gate entrance at SW Brandon Street and 29th Ave SW.

Note: The park and gates are closed Sundays and Mondays.

Fauntleroy Park
3951 SW Barton Street

One of two densely-forested parks in West Seattle—the other one being Schmitz Park by Alki—this park has a network of wooded trails that are great for doing a short hike any time of year. Added fun for kids is a series of boardwalks, bridges and a creek, which runs through the park and flows into the Puget Sound by the Fauntleroy Ferry terminal and is home to coho salmon.

There are a few different ways you can create loop hikes or just meander and explore. The trails are not marked and there are several ones that don’t connect, lead out of the park or aren’t really a trail. A trail map is available at the kiosk by the main entrance and here. There is also a brochure for a self-guided nature hike created by the Fauntleroy Watershed Council that is sometimes available at the kiosk or you could check out this post I did that starts at the park.

Parking: The main entrance is along Barton Street, where you can park on the street, but there are two additional entrances with parking. One at SW 97th Street (between 39th Ave SW and 41st Ave SW) and from the parking lot at the Fauntleroy YMCA. Do note, while you cannot park in the Y lot there is usually plenty of street parking nearby. Other entrances are walk-in with no parking close by.

Lincoln Park
8011 Fauntleroy Way SW

This hiking adventure includes both forest and beach options, or a loop that includes both. The upper forested trails are wide and flat with the inner trails less traveled than the outer loops. The beach trail is wide, flat and paved until you reach the pool. After that, it becomes gravel and is still flat but less wide. My favorite hike to do is a loop from the South Parking lot along the wooded upper trails, which goes past the playground, to the most northern trail which takes you down to the beach and a flat walk back along the water. The beach makes a great stop for building driftwood forts or looking for sea critters at low tide. If you are looking for elevation gain, you can reverse the route and go from the beach to the upper trails.

Parking: Two lots. The one on the south end of the park is the easiest for reaching the beach and the other one is in the middle near the playfields and playground/wading pool. There is plenty of street parking but make sure to watch for the parking restrictions so you don’t get towed.

Me-Kwa-Mooks Park
4503 Beach Drive SW

Until last summer, we had only parked in front of this park on our way to explore the beach across the street during low tides. So off we went, with a map I found online to explore the trails and wow, did we get lost. Maybe at one time all these trails existed or there were plans for the ones noted on the map so it turned out to be a different adventure than we expected. Which is sometimes the best kind. We discovered some rope swings, a service project from a long time ago that our kids’ school did about the Duwamish culture, local plants and animals and ran into a park volunteer that gave us a newer, way more accurate map.

These trails are definitely a bit more remote and shorter than others on this list so I might suggest it as a tag along when doing a low tide adventure across the street. The grassy area is a good spot for a picnic and there’s usually a port-a-potty by the front of the park.

Parking: Street parking.

Pigeon Point Park
Best entrance is adjacent to Pathfinder K-8 at 1901 SW Genesee Street.

We first discovered this park when our oldest kiddo started kindergarten at the school adjacent to it and we needed to burn off energy after school. Since then we’ve learned it’s part of the West Duwamish Greenbelt—which is the largest greenbelt in the city—explored most of the trails, participated in work parties and planted two letterboxes. However, we have yet to find the legendary entrance to the hidden bunker. There’s a map at the kiosk and the main trails are fairly easy to follow to do a loop.

Parking: There’s a large lot in front of the school and access to the park is through a chainlink gate on the south end of the lot and east of a portable. Street parking along 21st Ave is very limited.

Schmitz Preserve Park
5551 SW Admiral Way

Located just above Alki on the north end of West Seattle, this old-growth forest gives you a glimpse into what things looked like before the Denny Party arrived in 1851. With just under two miles of trails, a creek and a log painted to look like an alligator it makes the perfect outing for a hike in the woods in any weather.

We usually do one of the loops in the park and sometimes extend our adventure by hiking to Alki via Schmitz Boulevard, stopping at Whale Tail Park for some playground time, and then continuing onto the beach for lunch or ice cream. While the trails are not marked, the main ones are fairly easy to follow and there is a basic map on a kiosk at the main entrance or here. However, do note that not all trails connect and some lead to other ways out of the park.

Parking: The main entrance is just off Admiral Way on Stevens Ave SW. Look for a kiosk and park along the street.

Westcrest Park 
9000 8th Ave SW

It had been quite a few years since we walked these wooded trails but in looking for options in our neighborhood last spring we had fun re-discovering them and seeing the improvements in both the trails and park. Some of the trails have markers but here’s a good map as well.

In addition to hiking, this park also has a playground with a paved circular path for younger bikers and a huge field for flying a kite, kicking a soccer ball or tossing a frisbee. This is also home to the only dog park in West Seattle. (Do note, as of May 2021 the main climber in the play area is closed for repairs but the swings, ziplines and giant rope climber are still open for play.)

Parking: There are three parking lots for the park, with the most southern one closest to the trails, but be aware this is a high car prowl area so don’t leave anything of value in your car.

*Update Sept 2021—Recently walked southern trails and there are several encampments to the point I wouldn't recommend exploring with kids right now. Not sure about the rest the trails but have requested outreach services via the city and Seattle Parks and Rec.

Additional info
For a detailed Google map I created go here and scroll down to find the "Trails" layer. There are several other trails listed that I will write about in future posts.