Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hiking and Kids' Playground -- St. Edward's Park -- Kenmore, WA

    St. Edward's Park is the site of a beautiful seemingly ancient brick Catholic seminary that was in operation between 1930 and 1976, and still stands today. There are huge grassy spaces that surround the seminary; encompassing it all, is the forest. This would be the perfect place to make a movie, if you ever get the urge.
The seminary building at St. Edward's Park in the summer's evening sunlight

    The park is over 360 acres and filled with dozens of trails to explore. Some of our favorites are less than a mile long down the hillside that take you to Lake Washington. There's a small "designated" swimming area off from the end of 'main trail' to the water (this trail runs perpendicular to the backside of the seminary). Once you've reached the water be sure to explore the trails that run along the lake. As you walk, be on the look-out for rope swings and other good places to swim--you're sure to find some.
     Back at the top, you'll find the extravagant playground located southwest of the seminary. Your kids are bound to have fun here for hours: swinging on the tire swing, climbing on the climbing wall, or captaining a ship--your kids will love it. You can bring along a picnic as well, if the weather permits.
     If you're hungry but didn't bring a basket full of your own or if it's a rainy day, never fear. Bastyr University is less than a mile away and their cafeteria is filled with great natural food and open to the public. Lunch is served from 11:30am to 2pm daily. The cafeteria is chock-full of healthy "green" options and is very reasonably priced. Here, you get to buy your meal by the pound, so you get to decide how much you want.
This is only the beginning of the playground at St. Edward's Park...

A Semi-Secret Place to Explore:
    Before leaving the park, we suggest taking the couple of extra minutes to find the "Fern Grotto". It's the kind of place that you'd miss it if you didn't know it was there, yet it evokes a feeling of wonder and fantasy. The stone cave alter was created by a Boy Scout years ago. Weddings are sometimes held here, first kisses have been know to happen here, as well as child make-believe stories. On countless occasions we've brought kids to this place and immediately they begin making up imaginary stories that take place in Narnia or a Disney movie scene that they get to pretend in at the Fern Grotto. The kids are right, it feels like you've been transported someplace else...
     To find it, walk west (toward the lake) from the playground toward the forest. Then stroll along the forest until the trees end and the field begins. At this point, round the end of the trees, pass the trail that begins on your left and walk toward the lake again. Before long, you'll find a wooden rail fence on your left. Go through the walkway in the fence and keep going...that's when you'll see the top of the Fern Grotto made of stone. You can approach the grotto from either side; walk down the stairs and you'll be there.

Things to Know:
  • Take note that parking is $10 per day or $30 for an annual pass (to avoid the parking fee you can park on Juanita Drive before you enter the park)
  • There's a giant "castle-like" kids' playground for toddlers to kids-at-heart to enjoy
  • There are several hikes to choose from to reach Lake Washington
  • Mountain biking is permitted on the "main trail" to the water that runs perpendicular to the backside of seminary as well as closer to Juanita Drive, but not on other trails to the water
  • Restrooms are located at the top in the gym, located north of the seminary and also in at the bottom of the "main trail" to the water (outhouse style)
Have fun at the park!
Head on out Around Puget Sound...and Beyond

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