Need a quick reprieve from the urban bustle? Head over to Discovery Park, Seattle's biggest and best city park for a walk on the wilder side. Because though it's in the middle of town, Discovery Park is alive with wildlife, and has even been known to harbor a bear or cougar every once in a while. But don't worry, you have better chances of coming eye to eye with one of the many owl species in Washington state, which you'd be lucky to spot. With abundant hiking and running trails through surprisingly dense forest, golden meadows, active sand dunes, classic Pacific Northwest coastline and stellar views of the Olympic Mountain Range, Discovery Park is a local favorite for good reason.
It also has an interesting history as a military installment throughout much of the 1900's, only getting turned over to the city in the 70's. Many of the old Fort Lawton buildings still remaining, making for an interesting combination of nature and history. And though there is treatment plant hidden in the woods, it somehow manages to do little to detract from the natural beauty of this Seattle gem.
Getting to Discovery Park is fairly straightforward, and you have your choice of several parking lots. Each one provides easy access to the network of trails, including the popular Magnolia Bluff via Loop Trail. But a visit to Discovery Park isn't complete without a hike down to the beach and famed West Point Light Station, well worth the extra effort for the sweeping views of the Puget Sound.
Though it's in the middle of the Magnolia neighborhood, don't be fooled! First-timers can easily take a wrong turn in the sprawling 534-acre park. Be prepared with a map, and don't forget where you parked.
Visit this scenic park is open year-round from 4:30 am to 11:30 pm.
No permits or entrance fees required for the main parking lots. However, the beach access road is only available to those unable to make the trek down. Find details on the first come, first served beach parking permits, here.