Bellevue's Ardmore Park offers two connected sections of forest habitat, traversed by easy hiking trails. Here, you can enjoy tall conifers and deciduous trees, ferns and other forest vegetation, and small creeks, giving the illusion that you are some distance away from the surrounding suburbia. You are likely to find a few wildflowers blooming in season, hear woodpeckers, crows and other birds, and see a few energetic squirrels.
You will notice an occasional stump in the park; the area was logged many years ago. But today the forest has recovered and there are many large second-growth trees, and forest wildflowers in season. In late winter and early spring, look for an occasional trillium. In late spring, buttercups are numerous along sunnier edges of the trails, and you are likely to see avens, miner's lettuce, fringe cup, nettles, salal, salmonberry and thimbleberry. A few invasive plants are present too, particularly some Himalayan blackberry, and occasionally ivy and holly.
Note that you have some options in the northern section of the park, and you might enjoy exploring by varying your return route, but be sure and bring a map. The southern section of the park is easier to navigate, as it features one single, long trail.
All trails in the park are surfaced with bark and wood chips, offering a soft footing for hikers and joggers. Occasional short, steep sections are traversed using carefully crafted wooden stairs.
The hike begins near a grassy area next to a small playground, with tall conifers looming up immediately to the south. Signed trails leave from both sides of the playground and come together in 0.1 mile.
Take the trail that begins on the west side of the playground and head toward the tall trees. Just beyond the point where the two trails rejoin, come to a low bridge crossing a moist area that may be dry in summer. At a trail fork just beyond the bridge, head left (the right fork leads out to NE 28th St and another park trailhead.)
The left fork soon wanders out of the northern section of the park onto an apparent continuation of NE 28th St -- but it's a segment that is unpaved, grassy and not used by cars. The trail continues east along the grassy strip for just a short distance before heading back north into the park.
At the next trail junction in the park, turn right. The ongoing tail crosses that grassy continuation of NE 28th St and heads into the southern section of the park. You will cross two small streams on low bridges and, near the second crossing, note a short side trail that leads down to a view of the confluence of two small creeks. It's possible to scramble down a rough bank to reach the stream bed for a closer look. Like all creeks in the park, these are small. In summer they might not be much more than trickles, or could even be dry.
Continue south on the main trail and soon reach the southern end of the park at NE 24th street, where you can turn around and head back to your trailhead. The entire distance from the northern to the southern end of the park is about 0.6 miles. Signposts in the park show the correct mileages. (But a few of the many online pages that mention Ardmore Park get the distance totally wrong, suggesting incorrectly that it is as much as five miles!) Even if you explore the side trails at the northern end of the park, your round trip distance will be at most an easy mile and a half. And it's quite an enjoyable forest walk.
Note: The northern section of Ardmore Park has a number of side trails, and you might find it helpful to download a park trail map from www.bellevuewa.gov/ardmore_trails.htm. This takes two steps: On the right of the illustration, click the link for "Ardmore Park Trails page," and click the link there for "Detailed map of Ardmore Park Trails," NOT the link for "Map / Directions."