Outdoor Seattle

The Loop Trail at Discovery Park…four star recommendation

Discovery Park is a 534 acre natural area park, located next to the peninsular Magnolia neighborhood in Seattle, and overlooking Puget Sound, with views of the Cascade and Olympic mountains. It is the city’s largest public park and contains 11.81 miles of walking trail.  The park is built on the historic grounds of Fort Lawton.   The park includes two miles of protected tidal beaches, a lighthouse, open meadow lands, dramatic sea cliffs, forest groves, active sand dunes, thickets, and streams.

The park is one of the best places in the city to view wildlife, especially birds and marine mammals.  The Seattle Audubon Society has compiled a checklist of 270 species of birds seen in the park and nearby waters.  Elliott and Shilshole Bays are home to harbor seals and California sea lions, while the wooded areas support Townsend’s chipmunks.   Most visitors enjoy hiking the Loop Trail, which forms a circuit through forest, meadow, and shrub habitats around the upland portion of the park, and provides excellent views of Puget Sound. The shoreline is accessible by a trail (the hike back up from the north beach is mildly strenuous.   The south beach is on the windward side of the peninsula, Elliott Bay, and the north beach is on the leeward side and has views of Shilshole Bay. At the point between the north and south beaches is West Point and the West Point Lighthouse. Coniferous forest is mostly to be found in the north bluff region and can be accessed from the road that leads to the beach. Deciduous woods surround the two parking lots and the visitor center. Overlooking the south bluff is a large meadow with small trees and shrubs. Bigleaf maple, red alder, bitter cherry, Douglas-fir, western red cedar, and western hemlock make up a large percentage of the tree cover in the park.  Click the Discovery Park for a park map.  Click Directions or City Map to find your way to the Park.  Busses stop at the park entrance or at the North parking lot.  You can find the bus that works for you by clicking Metro Online Trip Planner.

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