Take a Hike

First Saturday Hikes

The 2019 hiking season kicks-off in the West Duwamish Greenbelt, the largest urban forest in Seattle, with our popular first Saturday hikes.  Each hike starts at 10 a.m. usually at the 14th Ave. SW and SW Holly Street trailhead, but check here for more hike details closer to the date.  Everyone and all ages are welcome. Parts of the trails are graveled and well-constructed; other parts are not formally maintained, so come prepared for possible muddy patches.

Here’s the schedule:

June 1 . Join National Trails Day in the West Duwamish Greenbelt. “Walk Native Land” with Ken Workman, a descendant of Chief Seattle. Ken will talk about his personal experience growing up in the forests of Puget Ridge and of the Duwamish use of the land and river.

The walk begins with an orientation at 10 a.m. in front of the Chan Education Center at the Chinese Garden at South Seattle College. We’ll walk down Puget Ridge to the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center near the Duwamish River and return. This “Duwamish Ridge to River” hike is on unimproved trail with aspirations to be a connector between ridge and river, about two miles round-trip with 200 feet of elevation gain coming back. Wear good shoes and be prepared for small obstacles like logs, brush, and walking near the edge of West Marginal Way. This walk is a First Saturday walk hosted by the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails.

South Seattle College is at 6000 16th Ave. S.W. Parking is on 16th Ave. S.W. or at the arboretum and garden center at the college. Bus route 125 goes to the college on Saturdays.

July 6   Native plant identification with Steve Richmond of GardenCycles.

August 3  Geology and land use history with Paul West and Craig Rankin.

September 7  History of the greenbelt with Matt Groshong, Randy Nelson, and Craig Rankin

October 5   Mushrooms with Kim Traverse of the Puget Sound Myco Society

Thursday walks at noon

Also walk every Thursday when South Seattle College is in session with WDGT volunteers, including college faculty and staff, who lead a 45-minute hike through different portions of the greenbelt each week. The length and direction of each hike depends on the wishes of  the hikers.

Past Hikes:

Insect Discovery, May 4, 2019

Thirty-five to forty walkers of all ages joined guest leader Amber Chiozza of Scarabs: the Bug Society, on an insect discovery walk.  Amber is an artist/printmaker, art conservator, educator and naturalist with a passion for insects, especially bees & wasps.  The walkers included a contingent of first grade enthusiasts from the West Seattle Nature Girls. All the children were provided inexpensive magnifying boxes with which to inspect and release live insect specimens. Pigeon Point Park proved to be the most fitting venue again because of its diverse, sprawling landscape that includes open grassy areas and wooded wetland.

After a short introduction, the group headed to the open areas near the Pathfinder School entrance and spent the remaining time searching grass, lifting rocks and scanning the flowers and bushes. Amber roamed around with a gaggle of children illuminating insect specimens. The group briefly detained a bumble bee just in time to compare it to a fly that looks like a bee; mimicry in nature is not uncommon. Best comment, from a first grader, overheard as we headed back to the trailhead:  “That was beautiful.  I thought it would be boring.”

See Amber’s exhibit “Crevice & Comb, The diversity and dwellings of wasps and bees”  at the CORE Gallery, 117 Prefontaine Pl. S. Meet at the Pigeon Point Park trailhead, 4714 21st Ave. S.W.

Bugwalk2

Birds of all Kinds, April 6, 2019

Expert birder Scott Markowitz from the Tahoma Audubon led a bird hike in Pigeon Point Park. The hike began at 10:00 am at the very moment that the sun broke the rainy weather that had been projected. The group of about 18 participants watched a hummingbird perform a territorial “J-dive” dance, analyzed song sparrow calls, inspected the mossy nest of a bushtit and watched a sharp-shinned hawk out-maneuver angry crows- just to list highlights. The known owl resident was not present, but the group found a pellet beneath its tree and discovered skeletons of small animals on which the owl had snacked.

 

 

Transportation History

History hikeSouth Seattle College librarian Randy Nelson led a group on a history hike, describing the streetcar line that ran through the Greenbelt, the sand and gravel operations that left an old road, and the proposal for a Soundway through the greenbelt.

Cultural History

IMG_3492In August 2018 70 of us hiked a Puget Park trail following Puget Creek with Ken Workman 4th generation-great grandson of Chief Seattle.  Ken talked about growing up in this neighborhood, finding quiet and an escape from the city in the woods, and about the continuing presence of Duwamish ancestors in the very soil and trees of the greenbelt.  A video of his talk/walk will be posted soon.

West Duwamish Greenbelt

Come Back to Your Senses, a one-hour mindfulness walk led by Andrea D’Asaro of Awaken to Mindfulness and Ken Workman.

Andrea began guiding the group with mindful breathing practice and continued with slow and then faster walking to wake up the senses and calm restless minds. They paused along the way to observe each sense perception and experience the wisdom of the forest with fresh eyes.

Ken spoke about the connection between Native culture and mindfulness and cultivating a deep connection with the earth.

National Trails Day

For the second year in a row, along with the Nature Consortium, we participated in National Trails Day, June 2, 2018, offering guided hikes in the West Duwamish Greenbelt.

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Restoration Work Projects

There is always work to be done restoring urban forest and maintaining trails. Here’s what’s currently happening and how you can get involved.

PIGEON POINT PARK
Pigeon Point is located on the furthermost northern end of the greenbelt, overlooking Elliot Bay and the mouth of the Duwamish River. Over the past 10 years, Nature Consortium has brought volunteers and community members together to help restore habitat by removing invasive weeds, amending soil, addressing erosion issues, and planting new native trees and shrubs.

PUGET PARK
Puget Park is just south of Pigeon Point Park. The Seattle Parks Department along with community volunteers have been working on improving the trail. They have been removing invasives, planting natives, regrading and resurfacing the trail. The entire 1.2 mile horseshoe shaped trail should be completely restored by the end of 2019. If you haven’t been to Puget Park lately, go check out the progress being made or at least check out this before and after photo: https://twitter.com/SeattleParks/status/843259499175723008

The 2019 work party dates are listed below. All work parties go from 9am to noon.

  • March 17th – Spring Kick-off
  • April 7th – Volunteer Day
  • May 5th – Join Hands Day
  • June 1st – National Trails Day
  • June 23rd – Seattle Works Day
  • August 18th
  • September 15th
  • October 6th – Fall Planting Party

WESTCREST PARK
Westcrest Park is located on the furthermost southern end of the greenbelt. DIRT Corps is revitalizing the southwest portion of Westcrest Park. The first step is to remove invasive species followed by planting events. The volunteer restoration events will include a brief weed ID education class to learn about the different types of invasive weeds, why they are harmful, and how to get rid of them. Learn how to join an upcoming Dirt Corp volunteer restoration event here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/theDIRTcorps/events/

GREENBELT THINNING GAP ENHANCEMENT PROJECT
The Green Seattle Partnership conducted a restoration project on roughly 40 acres in West Duwamish Greenbelt on the hillside between South Seattle College and West Marginal Way. A thinning and gap enhancement operation occurred from mid-August through mid-October 2017. Native planting by Garden Cycles was completed in March 2018. Professional crews thinned red alder and big leaf maple to create small gaps in the canopy to allow more light to the forest understory where young conifers await favorable light conditions. The cut down timber was left in place as nurse logs or snags, and  habitat piles were built with the slash material. Weeding and major replanting of tree seedlings was conducted over the 24 thinned acres as well as on an additional adjacent 16 acres. With more light and planting of 10,000 native tree/shrub seedlings, this effort will nudge this forest on a healthy and resilient path. The Applied Ecology crew will continue invasive removal and maintenance weeding over 100 acres of the greenbelt as well as monitoring seedling survival.

If you are walking through this area, be mindful on windy days.  With less density, trees are not buffered from the high winds. Learn more about this project at: http://www.greenseattle.org/letting-light-shine/.

NATURE CONSORTIUM
Since 2003, the Nature Consortium’s Urban Forest Restoration Program has been conducting forest restoration in the West Duwamish Greenbelt. Along with volunteers and community groups they have been removing invasive, planting natives, and controlling erosion. There are three Nature Consortium restoration sites in the greenbelt at Pigeon Point Park, north of Riverview Playfield, and north of the Seattle Chinese garden. Check out their website to sign up for monthly newsletters or sign up to volunteer.

Community Connections

Audubon Bird Count in the Greenbelt

In January 2018 the Audubon New Year’s bird count visited the greenbelt.  See Lynda Mapes’s article in The Seattle Times.  Volunteers identified 54 species of birds and 1,235 individual birds just in the greenbelt, including bushtits, wrens, and a spotted towhee.

Steering Committee: 

Steering Committee meetings are usually held the 2nd Tuesday of the month. All are welcome to attend.

Next Steering Committee Meeting is Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the community room at Puget Ridge Cohousing, 7020 18th Ave SW.