We can’t always drive to the mountains to hike so urban walks are our staple. Sometimes we just want to commune with some nature and smell the trees and dirt instead of walking the neighborhood sidewalks though. We are lucky here in Seattle because we have several large parks within the urban area so I thought I would tell you about some of them. Last time we told you about Ravenna and Cowen Parks (they’re connected).
Today we are sharing the Washington Park Arboretum. It’s a Botanic Garden jointly managed by UW and the City of Seattle. It’s 230 acres are populated with an assortment of plants found nowhere else. Most of the park is treed, hilly, and laced with hiking trails.
The portion of the park adjacent to the Lake Washington offers foot trails, great views, and water trails you can paddle with your dog (However, you will have to bring your own canoe or kayak. There is no rental facility at the site and the one across the lake doesn’t allow dogs to paddle with you).
I often forget about this park because it’s a little out of the way for us but we can still be there in 15 or 20 minutes. We went the other day with our Doxie walking buddies and hiked around for an hour and a half. We never walked the same trail twice and still didn’t see to half of the park.
When we walk together we always try to take a group photo. Usually it never goes even close to what we imagined. Ever try to get 5 kids who can’t talk yet, and who love the shiny thing in the corner (aka. squirrels) to all look at the camera at the same time? Yeah. Not easy. Anyway, we managed to get one of the best shots we have gotten in a long time.
Probably one of the most interesting plants we saw there were these Rhododendrons.
They caught my attention because the Rhododenderon is the Washington State Flower. They grow natural in the woods and I have seen many plants in landscape arrangements (not native I am sure because they look prettier than the ones in the woods and come in different colors).
All of the Rhododendron bushes I have ever seen are shrub-like and not taller than 5 feet or so. The ones that we saw at the Arboretum were probably 15 feet tall. The cool thing is most of the non-native plants in the Botanical Garden are labeled. It turns out these were a special kind of Rhodenderon – wardii, a rhododendron species native to southwestern Sichuan, southeastern Xizang, and northwestern Yunnanin China.
I go to this park so seldom that I forget when it looks like in the spring when everything is in bloom but I am sure it is very pretty. Even in the winter it is very pretty and scratches the hiking itch a little. If you are ever in the Seattle area and can’t get out to the mountains, this is one of our top recommended parks to visit.