It’s not so easy to find old-growth forest within Seattle city limits anymore, yet Seward Park has the Magnificent Forest featuring evergreen trees aged 200 years or more. The park was designed by the famous Olmstead brothers and remains a wonderful legacy of a time when city officials saw fit to set aside forested areas for public enjoyment. It occupies all of Bailey Peninsula that juts out into Lake Washington.
At this time of year, what strikes you more than the tall trees are the kwanzan flowering cherries that were blossoming throughout the park. My wife and I saw them almost immediately on the first trail we took and along the park’s periphery. A spectacular stand is located in the amphitheater area.
A network of footpaths winds through the park, a walker’s paradise when you consider that much of the park is inaccessible to motor vehicles. Over its 277 acres, trails diverge and connect, signposts clearly marking their names and distances. We were never far from the park’s edge no matter which path we took; they all eventually connect to the paved 2.4-mile walking and biking path that encircle the park. Walking along here reminded us of the Seawall trail around Stanley Park in Vancouver with its similar surroundings of water on one side and forest on the other though not as spectacular.
The forest understory was carpeted with the usual native plants, including lots of huckleberry shrubs. New-growth licorice ferns were unfurling their fronds. Grassy areas showed signs of spring, too. It looked as though the flowers blanketing them were just ‘weeds,’ but a closer look revealed tiny wildflowers, including pinkish-white, sometimes reddish asters.
Seward Park is an urban oasis that we need to visit more often.