Easter Sunday was a beautiful sunny day, and we didn’t have much going on, so Jon and I decided to take a walk to the Sehome Arboretum near our house. This large, natural wooded 180 acre city park is a joint partnership between the city and the University. The history of the park is quite rich, with coal mining in the 1850s and logging throughout the 1800s. It is now second growth forest and the last time it was logged was 1906. It was developed with some roads in the early 1900s and became a park in 1922, and was designated an arboretum in 1967. Most of the park is closed to cars now, so it is a wonderful oasis for walkers and hikers, right in the middle of the city. Technically, it isn’t an arboretum, because it wasn’t consciously planted with native plant species, and non-native species are not actively removed, but it still gives you a sense of what the area was like before modern settlements.
We are lucky enough to be only a half block from the Arboretum, but we do have to walk a few blocks to reach the trail head entrance. We headed up into the park, and at the beginning, the climb is fairly steep. You are immediately surrounded by tall trees and native undergrowth, and the surrounding homes and neighborhood quickly melt away.
We headed first up to the tower, which is an 80 foot observation tower with views of Mt. Baker, and the Bay to the west. This is generally the busiest part of the park, with families and children there most of the times I have walked there. It is still very peaceful and nice to just take a few minutes to enjoy the view. Jon has a hard time sitting still for long though, so I had to encourage him to relax and slow down.
The local college students were having an Easter Beer Hunt, where they hid cans and bottles of beer throughout the park for the hunt. It reminded me of a condom hunt they have every year for Sexual Awareness Week, but somehow I think the Beer Hunt isn’t sponsored by the Associated Students Club. Jon and I found several beers, but we left them alone so the students could have their fun.
We left the tower and headed deeper into the Arboretum. At this point, we were on an old road that was built in the 1920s, but closed to cars in 1967. We walked through a sandstone tunnel that was carved by hand in 1923. You can see that it was carved for the tall narrow cars of the day, and it would be a tight squeeze for our modern cars. They say that there are old coal mines throughout the park, but that the entrances were not mapped and their locations are no longer known. Perhaps at some point we will venture further off the beaten path and see if we can find some!
This time we kept to the main trail, which then meets up with the road where cars can travel up into the parking area in the park. There were only 3 cars there, and I think most of the visitors to the park are college students and neighborhood residents who live close enough to walk, like we do.
The road has a spot where the trees have been intentionally bent over the road, creating a cool natural arbor. We checked that out and then continued on our way, finding one of the smaller trails that connects with Sehome High School. At that point, we left the park in search of some cool drinks and headed home for Easter dinner. I do see more exploring in my future though!