Five places to experience Seattle’s wild side

Featured image: West Point Lighthouse at Discovery Park (photo by Cheryl Landes)

Unlike many major urban areas, Seattle hasn’t lost touch with its wild side. Hundreds of species of wildlife—from bald eagles to killer whales to chum salmon—thrive inside the city limits. Here are five places to see them.

Camp Long

A half-mile nature loop leads visitors through the camp’s 68-acre Douglas fir and Western red cedar forest in West Seattle. Look for raccoons, red foxes, and squirrels, but keep your eye on the sky. Cooper’s hawks, pileated woodpeckers, and great blue herons have all been spotted here. Free naturalist-led tours are given on the first and third Saturdays of the month.

Camp Long is located at 5200 35th Avenue SW. It’s open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday from March through October and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday from November through February. For more information, call (206) 684-7434 or visit the park’s website.

Directions to Camp Long:

From I-5 North, take exit 163 or 163A if traveling south from downtown to the West Seattle Bridge. Cross the West Seattle Bridge and continue to 35th Avenue SW. Turn left on 35th Avenue SW. The entrance to Camp Long is 0.7 mile on the left.

Carkeek Park

Wildlife can be spotted year-round along the park’s 12 miles of trails winding through dense forests and verdant meadows, and along a beach that offers sweeping views across Puget Sound. Young chum salmon return to Piper’s Creek to spawn from mid-November to mid-December.

Carkeek Park is located at 950 NW Carkeek Park Road and open daily, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. The viewing areas are wheelchair accessible. For more information, call (206) 684-0877 or visit the park’s website.

Directions to Carkeek Park:

From I-5 North or South, take exit 173 and drive west on Northgate Way (turns into N 105th). Turn right on Dayton Avenue N. Then turn left on N 110th Street (turns into Carkeek Park Road) and drive to the park’s entrance on the left.

Discovery Park

The 534 acres of wooded ravines, forests, grassy meadows, and beaches at Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood are home to more than 230 species of birds. Explore more than seven miles of trails to enjoy the variety of habitats, or for a shorter walk, try the Loop Trail (2.8 miles). Free naturalist tours are offered during the peak migrations in the spring and fall; contact the visitor center for more details and to make reservations.

Discovery Park is located at 3801 Discovery Park Blvd. and open daily, 4 a.m.-11:30 p.m. The visitor center is open Tuesday-Sunday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, call (206) 386-4236 or visit the park’s website.

The West Point Lighthouse at the beach is not open to the public, but you can stroll the grounds.

Directions to Discovery Park:

From I-5 North, take exit 165 to Seneca Street and continue on 6th Avenue 1.1 miles to Denny Way. Turn left on Denny Way and continue until it ends at Western Avenue. Turn right on Western Avenue, which changes into Elliott Avenue W and 15th Avenue W. From 15th Avenue W., exit at W Nickerson Street and follow the loop that ends at W Emerson Place. Turn left at W Emerson Place and continue to Gilman Avenue W. Then turn right on Gilman Avenue W and continue on this road as its name changes to W Government Way. Where W Government Way crosses 36th Avenue W, continue straight to enter the park on Discovery Park Blvd. Follow the signs to parking.

From I-5 South, take exit 166 to Stewart Street. Merge onto Eastlake Avenue E, turn right on Stewart Street, and right on Denny Way. Continue on Denny Way until it ends at Western Avenue. Turn right on Western Avenue, which changes into Elliott Avenue W and 15th Avenue W. From 15th Avenue W., exit at W Nickerson Street and follow the loop that ends at W Emerson Place. Turn left at W Emerson Place and continue to Gilman Avenue W. Then turn right on Gilman Avenue W and continue on this road as its name changes to W Government Way. Where W Government Way crosses 36th Avenue W, continue straight to enter the park on Discovery Park Blvd. Follow the signs to parking.

Lincoln Park

A sweeping 180-degree view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula is the backdrop for watching sea lions, seals, and gray and killer whales from the pebble beach at this 135-acre park in West Seattle with 4.6 miles of trails and 3.9 miles of bike paths. Early mornings are good for spotting bald eagles and great blue herons fishing from shore. Woodpeckers provide a background beat from the forest on the bluff behind the beach.

Lincoln Park is located at 8603 Fauntleroy Avenue SW just north of the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal. Its hours are daily, 4 a.m.-11:30 p.m. For more information, call (206) 684-4075 or visit the park’s website.

Directions to Lincoln Park:

From I-5 North, take exit 163 or 163A if traveling south from downtown to the West Seattle Bridge. After you cross the West Seattle Bridge, the road changes to Fauntleroy Avenue SW. Continue on Fauntleroy Avenue SW 2.25 miles to the park’s entrance on the right.

Read more about Lincoln Park.

Seward Park

Probably because it’s home to a grand old-growth forest, 277-acre Seward Park is a prime birdwatching spot. If you’d like some help spying out the little critters, join one of the free nature tours led by naturalists from the Seward Park Audubon Center at the park’s entrance.

Seward Park is located at 5900 Lake Washington Blvd. S and open daily, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. For more information, call (206) 684-4396 or visit the park’s website.

Directions to Seward Park:

From I-5 North, take exit 164A or 164 if traveling south from downtown to I-90 East. From I-90 East, take exit 3 to Rainier Avenue S. Drive south on Rainier Avenue S to S Genesee Street. Turn east on S Genesee Street to Lake Washington Blvd. S. Follow Lake Washington Blvd S. south to the park’s entrance.

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