Winters in Seattle are wet and damp but they help keep our parks lush and green. Don’t let a little rain keep you from seeing the wonder of winter flora this season. We have dozens of trails that are waiting to be explored.
Carkeek Park offers extraordinary views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains. Explore the hidden gems of this Northwest Watershed just nine miles from downtown Seattle. The park encompasses 220 acres of lush forest, meadows, wetlands, creeks and beach and has more than a dozen trails running through it. Hike along Piper’s Creek or be awed by the Puget Sound. The Carkeek Park demonstration garden is alive with winter color this time of year. Kalmiopsis leachiana provides tiny pink buds and Mahonia repens shows its deepest purple, red and maroon. In total, the park offers just over six miles of trail. The Salmon to Sound trail, the Piper’s Creek trail from the lower meadow to Piper’s Orchard and the Wetland Trail are all ADA accessible.
Hidden in South Seattle, Kubota Garden is a stunning 20-acre landscape that blends Japanese concepts with native Northwest plants. The City acquired the property, which is a historic landmark, in 1987 from the estate of master landscaper Fujitaro Kubota. Unlike the Seattle Japanese Garden which closes for the winter months, the Kubota Garden is open year-round and there is no admission charge. The gardens are a spectacular setting of hills and valleys, interlaced with streams, waterfalls, ponds, bridges and rock outcroppings. Last spring, the Kubota Garden Foundation celebrated the grand opening of a new terrace overlook.
Take a self-guided tour of the garden using a map provided by the Kubota Garden Foundation, or take a public, guided tour for free the fourth Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. A Foundation docent will be the guide. Tours leave from the garden’s parking lot.
Dancin’ in the moonlight! Everybody’s feeling warm and bright…and exploring Discovery Park! From 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, take a guided hike and experience Discovery Park from the perspective of a nocturnal animal. The views in the park are always beautiful, but there’s nothing quite like seeing it bathed in starlight. The Full Moon Trek event costs $5 per person and is designed for ages 8 and older. Find registration information here.
Discovery Park is a 534-acre natural area park. It is the largest city park in Seattle, and occupies most of the former Fort Lawton site. The site is one of breathtaking majesty. Situated on Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound, Discovery Park offers spectacular view of both the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges. The secluded site includes two miles of protected tidal beaches as well as open meadow lands, dramatic sea cliffs, forest groves, active sand dunes, thickets and streams.
If you’d like to discover the park on your own, take a look at the trail map here.
Washington Park Arboretum
The Washington Pak Arboretum is a 200-acre park on the shore of Lake Washington in the Madison Park neighborhood of Seattle with more than 40,000 trees, shrubs and vines from all over the world. Start your visit at the Graham Visitors Center where you can talk to a botanist, pick up a park map and lists of trees and plants.
Just a short walk from the visitors center is the Jospeh A. Witt Winter Garden that features a central lawn encircled by tall cedars and firs and a wide assortment of smaller trees and perennials. While the rest of the garden is more subdued, the winter garden is coming alive. For a winter garden map and plant list, go here. For a general arboretum map, go here.