Saturday, February 16, 2013

Maple Leaf and Thornton Creek Stairway Walk ~ February 9, 2013

Here are the stairs at the very beginning of the walk that
brought us down from the
bridge at the top of the picture across a green area
and into another neighborhood.

This was one of the Feet First Stairway Walks Day walks. This was the second walk that I've done from the Seattle Stairway Walks book. Unlike the first one of the stairway walks that I did, this one had a guide who already knew the walking area.

Here is our guide Carolyn, giving us some
background about the walk.

This North Seattle walk is 4.7 miles long and takes you through neighborhoods, natural areas, a community pea patch, and an urban area adjacent to the Northgate Mall. You do cross several busier streets, so if you are walking with children, keep this in mind.

Crossing a bridge

Looking down
 One minute you are on the beaten path...and then you are in the middle of nature.

This heron was in one of the wetland areas

I thought it was kind of funny how it looks like the duck is spitting the water out.

A tree that the beavers worked on.

Along the trail

The only fungus I saw

Beautiful red bark

 And then you arrive at the mall! We stopped at The Jewel Box Cafe for a cup of tea and a muffin, as well as a restroom stop before we headed back out again.

 We saw a lot of beautiful art.

This is an area where Thornton Creek runs through the Thornton Place Condominiums.

After leaving the mall we walked through a community pea patch with more artwork and stairs.

 This was an interesting walk. It's kind of fun to see how many natural areas you can find so close to the urban ones.

Happy trails.

P.S. I finally ordered the Stairway Walks Seattle book and should have it soon.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Olmsted Vision Stairway Walk - Seattle - January 13, 2013

One of several sets of stairs that we walked.

This was a really fun urban walk that I did with a friend. The walk comes from a book called Seattle Stairway Walks An Up And Down Guide To City Neighborhoods. The name of the walk is The Olmsted Vision. This walk takes you through three parks; Washington Park Arboretum, Interlaken Park and Volunteer park. More about the walk in a minute. An interesting Washington State History tie in to my last post about Northern State Hospital. The Olmsted Firm (a very historically significant landscape architecture firm) designed both the grounds of Northern State Hospital and the three parks above as well as other parks and grounds across the country from 1857-1979. Okay, enough history. I just thought it was interesting and had to share.

The whole idea of urban stairway walks is new to me. I had no idea that such a book existed. It's a great way to be able to get your exercise walking in the city, but it's also very similar to hiking with all of the stairs you go up and down.

We parked on a neighborhood street near the Montlake Branch of the Seattle Public Library. We went on a Sunday, so street parking didn't have a time limit. There are public transit options and other parking options listed in the book. If you decide to do this walk or others in the book you will definitely need the book for the maps and details. My local Snohomish County Library has the book and I'm on the waitlist for it now, although I'm thinking about purchasing it.

A beautiful bench along the route

We followed the map and route from the book, walking for a while and then stopping at the Volunteer Park Cafe for a delicious snack (I had coffeecake) and tea. After we finished our snack, we headed back out along the route.

We climbed more stairs...

Soon we arrived at Volunteer Park.

We saw a peek-a-boo view of the Space Needle through a sculpture.

 There wasn't much color out on this cold, winter day, but I spotted these and had to take a picture.

Another, natural set of stairs.

Which brought us to the Volunteer Park Water Tower with more stairs and beautiful views!

Climbing the water tower stairs.

View of the Space Needle from the water tower.

Seattle Skyline from the water tower

St. Joseph Catholic Church in the distance

A beautiful home outside Volunteer Park

Who knew there was an urban mountain bike skills park right under I-5?

A little more winter color I spotted:

Anyone have any idea what this is?

We walked past the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery. A Civil War cemetery.

Another beautiful view of the Seattle Skyline with the mountains in the background.

Another set of stairs to climb.

 A couple of fungus pictures, just because I couldn't help myself. ;-)

And a pretty piece of glass that I spotted in someone's garden along the way.

I highly recommend giving one of these stairway walks a try. There's no better way to spend a dreary winter day than exploring an interesting area that's close to home.

I'm going on another Stairway Walk this weekend. Stairway Walks Day is happening on Saturday and I'll be going on the Maple Leaf and Thornton Creek walk. I'll blog about it soon and let you know what I thought.

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Northern State Mental Hospital (Yes I know it sounds like a strange place to hike) ~ February 2, 2013

My family and I met my Dad and Stepmom for a walk this past weekend. We went to the Northern State Recreation Area (formerly known as Northern State Mental Hospital) in Sedro Woolley. My parents have explored and walked most of the trails numerous times before, so they were excited to show us around.
I think this was one of the dairy barns that was used to help feed the
hospital population when it was operating.

Driving directions: Follow I-5 North or South to SR Highway 20 (in Mount Vernon.) Follow Highway 20 east to Sedro Woolley. You'll pass through most of Sedro Woolley. Keep your eyes open for a Dairy Queen on the right hand side of the road. Your turn will be two lights past this intersection. When you reach Helmick Rd, about 15 minutes after exiting I-5, turn left. The parking lot for the Northern State Recreation Area will be on the left.

If you are a fan of disc golf, you are in luck. There is an 18 hole disc golf course that follows several of the trails in the recreation area. We brought a couple of regular frisbees just to give it a try, but the game is actually played with a slightly different type of disc.

My boys trying out one of the targets

Another target. I thought this one looked like
an alien spacecraft. 

Okay, so back to the trails. There are several miles of trails, that meander around the park area. You can see all of the buildings that are still standing. There are signs that warn you against entering the structures, as some of them look pretty unstable. It was a lot of fun to see all of the old buildings, including a cannery, dairy, well pump house and more. They had a huge garden/farm that was used to feed the hospital residents. The hospital residents were able to do vocational training in farming, dairy farming, greenhouse operation, printing plant and others. This helped the hospital to operate self-sufficiently. You can read more about the history of the hospital here.

This appeared to be a barn or storage space possibly for outdoor equipment?

A view through the brush of one of the main buildings.

These were the pump houses for the well

The trails were wet and there were some that had shallow running water and mud on them. I wore my tennis shoes and wished that I had my hiking boots on so that my feet stayed dry. The trails are all mostly flat and made for a nice lowland, winter hike.

A little horseplay on the trail

The view of the mountains (or foothills) were spectacular on this clear, almost 50 degree day!

I love the cloud creeping up the hill in this shot.

If you are interested in hauntings and ghost stories, there are several stories associated with the hospital. I didn't read about them until after we had visited, but they just add another element of mystery to this lowland "hike."

I watched a hawk flying and diving for a while before we got in the car to go.

Happy trails!