Hike old-growth forest trails in West Seattle

Featured image: Schmitz Preserve Park transforms into a winter wonderland after a rare Seattle snowstorm. (photo by Cheryl Landes)

Thanks to the foresight of a civic-minded banker and realtor, West Seattle has one of the last remaining old-growth forests in the city, Schmitz Preserve Park at 5551 SW Admiral Way. Ferdinand Schmitz donated the largest portion of the 53-acre plot in 1908, the first of his five-year membership on the park commission. The rest was donated in pieces through 1912.

Today, a stroll through Schmitz Preserve Park is similar to a short hike in the lower North Cascades. Approximately two and one-half miles of easy trails wind past Douglas firs towering more than 100 feet and western red cedar. Dense undergrowth, mostly ferns, creates a lush carpet on the forest’s floor.

An old access road, closed to vehicles, connects the northern end of the park to 58th Avenue SW. From here, it’s a three-block walk to Alki Beach, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Olympic Peninsula and downtown Seattle.

Schmitz ParkThe old access road in Schmitz Preserve Park welcomes hikers…no vehicles allowed. (photo by Cheryl Landes)

Wear boots; portions of the trails are wet year-round.

Schmitz Preserve Park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. From I-5 North, take exit 163 or 163A if traveling south from downtown to the West Seattle Bridge. After crossing the West Seattle Bridge, exit at SW Admiral Way. Follow S.W. Admiral Way two miles to the park’s entrance at SW Stevens Street. (Watch closely; the sign is small and hard to see.) For more information, call (206) 684-4075 or visit the preserve’s site.

Friends of Schmitz Park needs volunteers

The Friends of Schmitz Park needs volunteers who are interested in helping with park cleanup and maintenance on the last Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. If you’re interested, simply show up at the park’s entrance when they meet.

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