Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Exploring the Duwamish

Along the east side of West Seattle is an area you might not know much about—West Marginal Way. Or you may it know all too well for its bad traffic when trying to get “off island”. If you’re up for exploring, you’ll discover a group of parks along the waterway, the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center and several other hidden gems.

But first, I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional land of the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish People past and present and honor with gratitude the land itself and the Duwamish Tribe. 

  • Explore three parks
    The first two are right next to each other and can be visited in one stop. The third is about a half a mile north and since the bike trail crosses the street before reaching it, we accessed it by car. All three have views of the waterway.
    • həʔapus Village Park & Shoreline Habitat (formerly Terminal 107 Park)
      4500 Duwamish Trail

      This is my favorite of the three parks. There's the skeleton of a ship high in the air drawing you in and interpretive signs explaining the history of where you are standing. There are also a series of kiosks you can read as you walk throughout the park. For detailed information visit Port of Seattle website or Year of Seattle Parks website.
    • Herring’s House Park
      4570 West Marginal Way SW
      Easy to pair with the park above, since they are side by side and connected by their history as part of an ancient Duwamish village. For detailed information visit the Seattle Parks and Rec website or Year of Seattle Parks website.
    • t̓uʔəlaltxʷ Village Park and Shoreline Habitat (formerly Terminal 105 Park)
      4260 West Marginal Way SW

      I almost drove past the entrance and then almost parked in the first lot based on the signs. However, I decided to keep driving down a narrow road and discovered a second parking lot, grounds that had just been mowed and mulched, interpretive signs and a pier overlooking the water with a cool view of the WS Bridge. While it's more secluded than the other two parks, it's a good spot for watching big ships up close. For detailed information visit Port of Seattle website or on Year of Seattle Parks website.

  • Visit the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center
    4705 West Marginal Way SW
    Our first visit here was years ago on a school field trip when I knew very little about the Duwamish Tribe and its history. Since then, we’ve returned for additional trips to the Longhouse, visited the parks across the street where an ancient Duwamish village used to be and did one of their ecotours this summer. For more information, visit their website and read about the tour and Longhouse in this ParentMap article.

  • Ride a bike along the Duwamish Trail
    1 to 4 miles round trip and best starting spot is to park at Terminal 107 Park, 4500 Duwamish Trail.
    This flat path runs parallel to East Marginal Way SW and goes past the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center and a handful of parks. The trail also connects up with the Alki trail to the north or you can head south to connect to the Green River trail but both will involve some street riding. It’s worth noting that the trail is along a noisy industrial stretch of road with lots of traffic so I wouldn’t recommend this for younger kiddos just learning to ride.
    See route options

  • Print out the Green-Duwamish Journey activity booklet
    The Duwamish Alive Coalition put together a great activity book you can print out that is environmentally focused and covers several places along the Duwamish and in West Seattle. 

  • Other resources:
    • Duwamish River Community Coalition Updated 6/9/22
      A coalition dedicated to improving the health of the Duwamish River with events focused on awareness of environmental issues. Make sure to check out both the Duwamish River Festival they host in August and their community boat tours
    • The Heron's Nest
      4818 Puget Way SW
      I’d been hearing about this outdoor education camp and finally got to take a peek when we did a West Duwamish Greenbelt ecotour with the Duwamish Tribe a couple of weeks ago. There’s a greenhouse with chickens, a couple of camping spots, outdoor bathrooms (including showers), a screen for outdoor movies and the start of an outdoor classroom being built. The WS Blog also did a story last week about it and it’s listed on Hipcamp