With the days becoming sunnier and sunnier, I'm ready to indulge in my two favorite summer activities - hiking our city parks and heading to the beach. One of my favorite places to go, no matter the season is Carkeek Park because I can both stroll along the beach and hike through the abundant forest. Carkeek Park features over 220 acres of lush forest, meadows, wetlands and beach while offering phenomenal views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, along with a yearly outdoor art exhibition.
Carkeek Park literally has everything for the outdoor enthusiast. Hikers can amble along the over 6 miles of trails while checking out the restored salmon spawning population, urban streams and follow along with the Pipers Canyon Story Trail. Additionally quite a few trails are ADA accessible which means they are also great for strollers.
Art enthusiasts should scout out the annual Heaven and Earth Outdoor Art Exhibition which is in its seventh consecutive year. Each year, the Center on Contemporary Art (CoCa) orchestrates an exhibition of temporary artwork from over 16 artists in the forest of Carkeek Park along with Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Carkeek Park Advisory Council. The artwork can be seen from mid-July to mid-October. My absolute favorite exhibition was the giant croquet set with inflatable beach balls in the meadow next to the Environmental Learning Center in 2013. I'm excited to see this coming year's exhibition.
Historians and gardeners alike will delight in Piper Orchard, a restored fruit orchard with over 29 fruit varieties from Dutch Mignone Apples, Rhode Island Greening Apples to pear, cherry and chestnut trees. Sitting just above Piper Creek, Piper Orchard is an ideal location for summer picnics and the annual Festival of Fruit in September is not to be missed. The orchard was planted in 1889 by A. W. Piper after the Great Seattle Fire. Foragers can also find salmonberries, stinging nettle and many other types of berries within the park. Naturalists in the environmental learning center can help identify which berries are safe to eat and where they can be found.
Carkeek Park is perfect for children. It's salmon-themed play area, kid-friendly hiking trails and easy to access beach area make for fun playtime. The Bubble Man makes daily appearances at the playground. Kids of all ages will delight in his bubble shows and antics.
The pedestrian bridge over the BNSF Railway tracks is a hit with train-loving toddlers and adults alike. I love to stand on the bridge while feeling the roar of the locomotive as it rushes by. My kids like to wave at the Amtrak Cascades Train passengers as they head toward Vancouver, BC. One can often hear toddlers yelling, "Choo-Choo" with their parents as the train passes.
Piper's Creek empties into the Puget Sound along the beach at Carkeek Park. While on the small side, the beach is a lovely place to explore during low tide and a wonderful location to rest for a bit anytime of the day. Beach Naturalists from the Seattle Aquarium are often on hand during low tides to provide education about the Puget Sound's multitude of marine plants and animals.
Carkeek Park's current location is not it's original one. The first Carkeek Park was located just north of Sand Point at Pontiac Station and was named in 1918 after Morgan J. Carkeek, an English building contractor who arrived in Seattle in 1875. The park was moved to its current location in 1928 where from its expansive beach you can see the southern tip of Whidbey Island, the Kitsap Peninsula, and the Olympic Mountains.