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  • Writer's picture Johanna Arellano

#InsiderTip: Forest escape in the middle of West Seattle

Did you know you can explore an old growth forest right here in West Seattle?

When I want to get away from the “city”, my go to is Schmitz Park – or its formal name, Schmitz Preserve Park. This is hidden 50+ acres of forest stretching from Alki Beach that to the North Admiral neighborhood. While is literally is literally in the middle of these neighborhoods, once you enter, all the sounds of civilization fall away and you can pretend you are on a mountain trail.

Once you are in, you can explore the park’s meandering 1.7 miles of trails at your leisure. I usually let myself get lost and end up walking longer. The trails are fairly flat, so perfect for all fitness types, with kids and is dog-friendly (on-leash, of course). And, depending on your course, you can explore both sides of Schmitz creek.

This park has an official 0.6 mile loop where the path is wider. However, you will see many offshoots that I recommend taking. Even if the off-shoot takes you out of the park, you can just go back in and explore more. On your hike you will see trees, many old growth, ferns, a bubbling creek with a couple of bridges to cross. If you are a plant person, depending on the season, you may see yellow hoods of skunk cabbage, blooms of Indian plum, salmonberry, Oregon grape, bleeding heart and trillium You might see a squirrel or two or hear a woodpecker. But mostly you will find peace and quiet.

History of Schmitz Park

For you history buffs, you may be wondering how an old growth forest was preserved in an urban setting. Well, the main people to thank Ferdinand and Emma Schmitz who donated the largest part of this park in 1908. Ferdinand served on the parks commission and was concerned at how Seattle area forests were disappearing. Over the years, additions to the park were purchased. It is now preserved as a foot path only park.

How to get there?

There are many entries into the park. As I live in Alki, the most convenient to me are either the paved road near Alki Elementary School or off Admiral Drive there are steps down to the park. From these entries it is a paved trail that quickly gives way to hardpack dirt just after the The trails meander and have exits to neighborhoods. Other entries are off SW Hinds St., SW Hanford St., SW Stevens near 53rd Ave. SW and at 53rd & SW Manning St.

If you are a “need a map” person, I like this one from AllTrails as you can zoom in and out to orient yourself.

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