Take a Hike

2021 Hikes

Our Thursday walks and guided Saturday hikes have been temporarily suspended during the coronavirus outbreak, but we are offering virtual hikes instead.

Walk with Ken Workman of the Duwamish 

In a series of walks in the northern portion of the greenbelt, follow Ken Workman, great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Seattle, as he describes the native history of this ridge, the native and edible plants he sampled as a boy, the Duwamish use of clay, and the continuing presence of Duwamish ancestors.

Click here for We Are Still Here.
Click here for Welcome My Friend.
Click here for Edible Plants, Oregon Grape
Click here for Native Plants, Lady Fern
Click here for Duwamish Uses of Clay
Click here for Golden Hour in the Greenbelt

Dump Truck Run aerials

Click here for aerial views of what is affectionately known as the Dump Truck Run, starting at S.W. Holly St. and 14th Ave. S.W. and ending at Highland Park Way (or the other way around).  Clay Eals and Jean Sherrard photographed and featured this trail in their Seattle Now & Then column in The Seattle Times on May 6, 2021, and included more description on their website.   

Tree Decay

Click here to walk with Maxfield Shea as he explains the process of tree decay, the compartmentalization of decay in trees (CODIT).  Instead of “healing” their woody tissue, trees have “walls” that help to compartmentalize decay and keep it from spreading. Better understanding of these processes can help to make sense of all the wild and unexpected ways that trees adapt to their wilder environments. Maxfield is an aspiring arborist and recently went through the horticulture program at South Seattle College, located along the margin of the West Duwamish Greenbelt.

Mindfulness

Click here to walk with mindfulness, guided by mindfulness teacher Andrea D’Asaro and spoken word poet Trent Randall. They begin in the Pigeon Point Park area of the greenbelt and utilize poetry, mindful breathing, listening, walking, and standing to appreciate the greenbelt and become centered in the moment.

Native Plants

Click here to walk with Steve Richmond, master of native plants and forest restoration, in a series of videos as he identifies both native and non-native plants and how they interact.  Steve’s walk begins at the trailhead at S.W. Holly Street and 14th Ave. S.W.  After viewing his videos, you may explore for yourself on good trails built by Seattle Parks and volunteer groups.

Walking Native Land

In both 2018 and 2019, Ken Workman, the great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Seattle, led walks on native land in the woods where he played as a boy.  Click here to walk with Ken on a short trail leaving from S.W. Dawson St. and 19th Ave. S.W. as he talks about the Duwamish heritage in the land.

Trail-Running

If you’re looking for a muddier challenge, check out trail-running in the greenbelt.  Click here for a video Bryan Schaeffer provided.  Follow runners south through the greenbelt to Westcrest Park on harder-to-find trails.  The video was produced as part of a decade-long project called Best of the NW, highlighting trails within a day’s drive of Seattle.

Thursday Walks

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. Meet at the South Seattle College tennis courts located in the southeast portion of campus at noon. The length and direction of each hike depends on the wishes of  the hikers.  Guided hikes have been temporarily suspended during the coronavirus outbreak until the college is in session again on campus. 

First Saturday Hikes 2019

The 2019 season featured seven Saturday walks in the West Duwamish Greenbelt, the largest urban forest in Seattle.  See descriptions below.  The WDGT group deeply appreciates all those who contributed their time and passion to lead hikes this season; the West Duwamish Greenbelt is a busy place!

Mushrooms
Amanitas

Mushroom:  On October 5th a small gaggle emerged at 14th and Holly for the final Saturday hike of the season. Fungi had formed up around the West Duwamish Greenbelt trails for our mushroom-themed walk. Many mushrooms stuck to their more subtle, camouflaged Fall colors and low profile while the iconic red and orange Amanitas (the “Mario mushrooms”) stood out like small bright sculptures among the damp coppery brown leaf litter.  The WDGT group was fortunate and grateful to host Kim Traverse to lead an exploration of fungi livelihood. Kim served for four years as the president of the Puget Sound Mycological Society and is a chief organizer for the annual Wild Mushroom Show which occurs this year October 26 & 27 at North Seattle College.

Geology:  September 7  More than 20 hikers joined environmental educator Devin O’Reilly for an exploration of Duwamish Valley geology.  Devin explained glacial movements in West Seattle, soil and rock types, river pathways in south Seattle and Renton, and the likely presence of a glacial erratic in the greenbelt.

Land Use History: August 3  Hikers explored the land use history of the West Duwamish Greenbelt with urban forester Paul West.  They learned how 500 acres were acquired and how sand and gravel operations, kiln dust contamination, and plans for a freeway have threatened the sustainability of the greenbelt.

Native Plants:  July 6  Steve Richmond, an expert in controlling invasive plants and restoring native plant communities, instructed 15 walkers on plant identification and descriptions in the greenbelt.

Native plant hike with Steve

Native Land:  June 1

More than 75 people of all ages walked native land from ridge to river on National Trails Day in the West Duwamish Greenbelt.  Ken Workman, a descendant of Chief Seattle, described his personal experience growing up on Puget Ridge and the Duwamish experience of the land on the ridge and along the Duwamish River. The hike left South Seattle College and followed an unimproved trail down to the Duwamish Longhouse on West Marginal Way and back up. Hikers had to walk the parking strip along the busy truck-way because sidewalks are intermittent there. The hike, sponsored by the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails group, highlighted the vision of a ridge to river trail, connecting landscapes nurturing human life for thousands of years.Ridge to River

Insect Discovery: May 4

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.”

Bugwalk2

Birds of all Kinds

On April 6, 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.

2018 Hikes

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

In 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.

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. Specific work party dates will be listed here. Watch for the next work party in November 2021. 

Work party
October 2021, 15th and Brandon entrance
Work party
Forest steward Christine Clark directs October 2021 work party.
Trail party1
Work party
The “finished” trail, October 2021
Are you in High School and need some community hours?  Bring friends to a work party.
Youth waiver for those under 18 – please email back before event or bring with you:

MOVING A NURSE LOG
The crew of GardenCycles moves a cedar nurse log to a wet area near the Duwamish Longhouse where it can support native growth.   Click here to watch a time-lapse video by Paul Parker.

HIGHLAND PARK WAY SIDEWALK
An unusual project to uncover the sidewalk on the north side of Highland Park Way has created a new connection between the end of a hike through the greenbelt to Highland Park Way and the intersection with West Marginal Way.  See this short video about the project.

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. Nature Consortium is now part of the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association; check out that website to sign up to volunteer.

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.  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

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. 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/.

Community Connections

 

The Duwamish Ridge to River Trail (R2R)

In 2021 Duwamish Tribal Services received a grant from the King Conservation District to determine the feasibility of a trail from the top of Puget Ridge, Pathfinder School, and South Seattle College to the Duwamish Longhouse and Duwamish Waterway at Ha-ah-poos.  The West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails group participated in the planning for and implementation of this grant.

The purpose of the grant was to assess trail routes through the Greenbelt and determine remediation options required to meet federal, state, and municipal policy and safety regulations for trail usage and develop a comprehensive trail plan for the greenbelt, addressing recreation, education, cultural exchange, environmental justice, youth employment, and forest restoration.

The study was completed in May, 2021.  A summary of the results of that study by Herrera Environmental Consultants can be found here and the full Feasibility study here.

Water Quality Monitoring

Part of the RIdge to River grant was water quality monitoring at the base of Puget Creek where it enters a culvert on Puget Way.

Heron’s Nest

We also support the work of Heron’s Nest outdoor education camp and its projected repatriation of land to the Duwamish.