Seattle Parks and Recreation invites community input for renovation of Discovery Park play area

Seattle Parks and Recreation invites the community to provide input on play area equipment for the Discovery Park play area on Saturday, April 23, 2016. Seattle Parks and Recreation staff and Harrison Design Consultants are hosting an Open House from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center, 3801 Discovery Park Blvd.

This project will replace play equipment, provide access for people of all abilities and improve safety and other features at the play area. The Discovery Park play area is located near the Environmental Learning Center, behind the tennis courts.  The community is encouraged to participate in a short play area survey

Funding for the project is provided by the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy and the Seattle Park District.  Approved by voters in 2014, the Seattle Park District provides more than $47 million a year in long-term funding for Seattle Parks and Recreation including maintenance of parklands and facilities, operation of community centers and recreation programs, and development of new neighborhood parks on previously acquired sites. 2016 is the first full year of implementation and will include funding to tackle the $267-million major maintenance backlog; and will fund the improvement and rehabilitation of community centers; preservation of urban forests; major maintenance at the Aquarium and Zoo; day-to-day maintenance of parks and facilities; more recreation opportunities for people from underserved communities, programs for young people, people with disabilities, and older adults; development of new parks; and acquisition of new park land.

For more information on this project please visit or contact Karimah Edwards at or 206-233-0063. The Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center will be offering other family fun activities on April 23.  Pre-registration if required for the bird tour, tidepool trek and Earth Day Beach clean-up.  For more information on these programs visit or call 206-386-4237.

Mowing scheduled in Discovery Park, other parks due to brush fire danger

Beginning, Saturday, July 11, Seattle Parks and Recreation crews will mow areas of high grass in the north and central parts of Discovery Park in Magnolia due to concerns over potential brushfires.

Unusually dry, hot weather in Seattle this summer has created potential fire hazards in parks and natural areas throughout the city.

The grass in these areas of Discovery Park has not been mowed from March 15 through mid-July to accommodate ground-nesting bird species. Because the nesting season started earlier this year due to warm weather, Seattle Parks and Recreation staff believe the birds may have completed their nesting early.

Working in consultation with the Seattle Audubon Society, Parks staff will check the area to ensure the ground nesting birds have left the area and will mow in patches to flush any remaining birds so they can move to other habitat. Only areas that present a brushfire hazard will be mowed; there will be ample space and habitat for wildlife within the park. At 534 acres, Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest park.

“We are trying to balance care and concern for wildlife habitat with the very real threat of brush fires in these unusually warm and dry conditions,” said Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre. “Fires in the park would pose a danger to park visitors and nearby neighborhoods and be potentially devastating to wildlife.”

“Seattle Audubon appreciates the care that Parks and Recreation is taking with this mowing, and we support the reduction of fire hazard in a way that minimally disturbs birds and other wildlife,” said Brian Windrope, Executive Director, Seattle Audubon Society. “This partnership between our staff and volunteers and Parks staff will be beneficial for birds and people!”

“Vigilant prevention is the key to keeping the visitors and local neighbors safe from the potential danger of brush fires,” said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins. “Due to the dry conditions, local firefighters have proactively conducted pre-fire inspections of Discovery Park. During these inspections fire crews surveyed access roads, hydrants and developed action plans in case a fire occurs inside the park. Keeping our residents and visitors safe is our top priority.”

“It is also important that each resident takes the time to clear any dead or dry brush from around their homes to break the chain if a fire does occur,” says Fire Chief Scoggins. ”Remember, fire safety is all of our responsibility!”

As a preventative measure during dry weather spells, Parks crews mow dry grass as low as possible so there’s less fuel to catch fire. In Discovery Park the mowing will include Bay Terrace in the north area of park; around and the near the historic buildings in the south central area of the park; around the perimeter of the historic Horse Barns in the central area of the park; and the lighthouse station in the far west point of the park.

In the past two weeks, at least seven small fires have burned at several Seattle parks, including one at Discovery Park near the lighthouse. Parks crews will be following similar mowing practices in two dozen other parks and natural areas in the city.

In future years, Seattle Audubon will work with Seattle Parks and Recreation to assess fire risks in parks and help the department adjust mowing plans and fire safety measures to balance the need to protect wildlife habitat and address fire danger.

Seattle Parks and Recreation’s parks and programs named top picks for family recreation

A Seattle Parks docent teaches kids about marine life on the beach at Discovery Park.

When it comes to making good impressions, moms and dads can be the toughest critics. That’s why we were honored to hear that Seattle parents named Discovery Park the best Urban Nature Experience for a second year in a row.

Every year ParentMap magazine’s editorial team surveys its readers to discover the best family resources in Seattle as part of its Golden Teddy Awards.

This year Discovery Park took first in the Urban Nature Experience category with Carkeerk Park, Seward Park and the Washington Park Arboretum listed as finalists.

The Golden Teddy Award page reads, “Wild Discovery Park, a former military base that is the largest park in Seattle, has it all. From the 2.8-mile trail loop through forests, meadows and along bluffs with breathtaking views to driftwood-tossed beaches and even a lighthouse, the range of nature experiences in Seattle’s largest park is astounding.”

Discovery Park Nature Day Camp was named a finalist in the Nature + Environmental Camps category.

An insider’s guide to Discovery Park

Seattle Parks and Recreation Naturalist Anne Bentley has been working in Discovery Park for more than 25 years, and knows the area better than most. We interviewed Anne to learn her expert tips for getting the most out of a visit.

 Q. Many visitors to Discovery Park head straight to West Point Lighthouse, but what are some other lesser-known places of interest?

In the northwest corner of the park, just off the north parking lot, there is a half-mile loop trail called the Wolf Tree Nature Trail. It has the largest collection of native plants in the park. The trail includes two beautiful streams, forested wetlands and some fairly large conifers and big leaf maples. It is a trail used in environmental learning classes and quiet contemplation, so we discourage jogging and dogs are not allowed. It is a great place for a walk anytime of the year.

The Wolf Tree Nature Trail has a spur trail to three reflecting ponds. These are human-made ponds retaining stream water from the hillside. The last pond or the lowest pond is largest with places to sit and picnic, birdwatch or enjoy the quiet.

The north section of the loop trail is a series of forested ravines. This is a great place to walk and see examples of the Pacific Northwest iconic forested landscape – large big leaf maples with licorice ferns growing on their branches, tall evergreens, pileated woodpeckers, salmonberry bushes with their pink blossoms in the spring and orange berries in the early summer.

The historic district is in the middle of the park, just west of the environmental learning center (ELC). The ELC has pamphlets for loan that include a district walking tour map. There is also an interpretive panel at the flagpole in the historic district that tells the history of Fort Lawton. Fort Lawton was the predecessor to Discovery Park. For those interested in military history, Pacific Northwest history, or architecture, the historic district is the place for you.

There is also a military cemetery in Discovery Park which holds a charm all its own. It is run by Fort Lewis and is open to the public. The surrounding landscape is serene and there are some interesting grave markers to discover.

The wetlands on the north beach are another unique place to visit in Discovery Park. Here a visitor can sit and watch birds, look for signs of beaver or river otter or enjoy the quiet and the colors.

Finally, the Hidden Valley Trail (HVT) is probably one of the least traveled trails in the park. It is the easiest trail to take from the beach back up to the other areas of the park. That is, easy, relative to the two other beach trails. It is still kind of steep. The HVT is full of plant life. It travels just to the east of the King County Wastewater Treatment Plant. It originates in the north bluff and drops you out by the comfort station closest to the beach. It has a couple of cascading streams at the top of the trail and nice glimpses of the Puget Sound through the trees all the way down to the beach.

 Q. Where is your favorite place in the park?

That is a difficult question to answer. I love all parts of the park equally. I truly believe the entire park with its varied landscapes, diversity of wildlife and wildlife habitats, and multitude of stories is a treasure for residents of and visitors to the Puget Sound area.

 Q. Why can Discovery Park be a fun place to visit even in the winter?

There are so many reasons to visit Discovery Park in the winter. It is a great place to take a walk no matter what the weather. In general, it is always great to get outside and move. In addition, walking in the park helps renew the spirit. In the winter out in nature, everything may look bleak, dark and hopeless. With a closer look, though, little signs of new life are apparent – buds waiting to open, a tiny sprout emerging out of a maple seed. These are reminders of the cycles in nature. Spring always comes after the winter. These signs of hope and renewal may be helpful reminders for someone having a hard time in their life; reminders that things always change. And those visible signs of hope and renewal and change may nourish hope and renewal and change in a person’s psyche.

Also, in the winter, with many of the leaves gone, the views are spectacular.

In general, Discovery Park is this accessible place for city folks to reap the benefits of a close encounter with nature, close to home, no matter what the season.

 Q. What’s the most interesting creature you’ve come across in the park?

Western Tanager

They are all Life is amazing! It is the context in which I see the creature that makes it unique or special. There is nothing like seeing the bright yellow and red of a Western Tanager (bird) after all the gray of a Seattle winter. Seeing a Northern Alligator lizard basking in the sun is always a treat. I love the first garter snake I see in the early spring. It tells me winter is over. Hearing Pacific Tree frogs calling at dusk gives me a thrill because it means spring is on its way. And I could go on and on about the inter-tidal animals found on Discovery Park beaches – moon snails, sea slugs, sunflower stars just to name a few – colorful and exceptional sea creatures we are honored with glimpsing for short periods at low tides.

 Q. What should people who have never been know before going?

People should know what stinging nettle is and how to identify it. We have a lot of it growing in the forested areas of the park. It does not kill. It may sting for a bit, though, if bare skin touches it. The folks at the ELC can help with identification or give more information it.

People also need to know that Discovery Park is a place to get out of the car and walk. There are no roads through the park that the public can drive their cars on. They can walk anywhere they want in the park. That is what makes Discovery Park such a unique place. It is a place to escape the turmoil of the city with its loud noises and cars; a place to relax, experience fresh air, tall trees, expansive vistas, and possibly view some wildlife.

Q. Where are some of the best viewpoints?

South Bluff, North Bluff, Daybreak Star Overlook, the Chapel, the flagpole in the historic district.


Three Seattle parks named top picks for family recreation

We know how spectacular our park system is, and it turns out, some of the city’s most concerned customers do too – parents.

Every year ParentMap magazine’s editorial team surveys its readers to discover the best family resources in Seattle as part of its Golden Teddy Awards.

Discovery Park


This year, Discovery Park was voted the best Urban Nature Experience.

On the Golden Teddy Awards winners page it reads, “[Discovery Park] in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood has literally everything: Stroller-friendly loop trails, forested hiking trails, beachfront, a lighthouse and an environmental educational center with engaging programs year-round.”

One reader commented that the park, “feels like an out-of-the-city retreat while still being close to home.”

Carkeek Park


Carkeek Park was a finalist in the same category with a reader commenting that “It has everything — beachfront, forest, wetland, and a salmon-spawning creek in the autumn!”

Green Lake Park


Green Lake Park, which ParentMap deemed a “recreation paradise,” was a finalist in the Water Playparks and Pools category.