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Innis Arden Reserve Park

Puget Sound and Islands

Location

Puget Sound and Islands -- Seattle-Tacoma Area
View map below

Length

1.4 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 225 ft.
Highest Point: 215 ft.

Rating

4.00 out of 5

 
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 
 

This hike is in a minimally-developed park in the City of Shoreline, north of Seattle. It offers steep hillsides and some fine mixed forest. Trails descend into the park from both a northern and a southern trailhead, with the northern trail being longer.

Both trails end just short of the railroad grade and the ends are separated by a swampy area that is best avoided. If you hike with a GPS unit and have downloaded the Northwest Topo map, you may have wondered about the apparent gap shown in the trail. This is why it's there. Please refrain from hiking to or near the train tracks here. 

For a look at the best forest scenery the park has to offer, plan to hike both the northern and southern trails. The trailheads are less than 1.5 miles apart, so this is straightforward.

Begin at the northern trailhead at the end of 15th Ave NW. In season there may be buttercups blooming here. Soon, you will be in forest with only occasional seasonal wildflowers: perhaps a few trilliums and bleeding hearts, then avens, fringe cup, youth-on-age, salal, and salmon and thimble berries.

From the trailhead, a fairly wide route heads down a few stairs and bends around to the right. Some homes are visible off to the far right, and up ahead there's an open flat area with a few tall madrona trees beyond it.

Perhaps that area once was considered for a home site, but it's now part of the park. The edge of that area is a bluff. There's no barrier, so approach the edge carefully. There's some litter at the base of the bluff, but there also are good views down to the railroad tracks and out across Puget Sound.

Off to the left of the bluff a narrower trail continues on down, with a few stairs and an initially stony tread.

In the spring, you might find some new growth of Himalayan blackberries and nettles hanging in over the trail here, and elsewhere on your hike, so be alert for those potential pricklies.

As you continue on you will encounter a variety of trail conditions. There will be additional rustic stairs, some short sections of older boardwalk in varying degrees of maintenance, and perhaps a few moist sections with - depending on the season - a bit of shallow mud. Just press on. The route is easy to follow.

Along the way, you will come to a large tree that has several ropes dangling from high branches. There is no indication of who installed and uses them, but the swingers must visit here occasionally.

Beyond the rope tree there is an unsigned Y in the trail. The right hand branch leads about 150 feet to a minimal high point. You can check it out if you like, but when the trees and shrubs are fully leafed out there's not much of a view.

Return to the Y and continue on the left branch as the trail becomes even more rudimentary and, often, moister. Quite abruptly, your trail will emerge onto the gravel slope a few yards from the railroad tracks.

You are about a half-mile from your trailhead here, and this is a good place to turn around. Do not venture out onto the tracks, or try to negotiate the swampy area beyond.

Return to the northern trailhead, and then take a few minutes to drive around to the southern trailhead at the end of 16th Ave NW. It looks very much like the northern trailhead.

At the left end of a guard rail, a minimal-looking path descends into the forest. But press on. It becomes much more substantial farther down. The first section of trail is the steepest, and in summer it can dry out and become gritty. Watch your footing here, and for the safest descent consider using trekking poles.

As you continue on, the trail becomes wider and less steep. The forest here is the most impressive you will see in the park. Take time to enjoy it.

As the trail levels out near the bottom of the slope it likely will become moister, and an occasional old blowdown may impede your way. About 0.2 miles from the trailhead, you will come to a swampy section, perhaps within sight of the railroad tracks.

As the raven flies, you are not that far from your earlier turn-around point. But it's best not to continue across the swampy area and approach the tracks. You have seen the best trails already, so you can turn around here and return to the southern trailhead.

 

Innis Arden Reserve Park

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.7586, -122.3767 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Puget Sound and Islands -- Seattle-Tacoma Area

City of Shoreline

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Getting There

It may help to refer to a street map. From Hwy 99 (Aurora Ave N) in Shoreline, head west on N 160th St to Greenwood Ave N. Turn right and, almost immediately, turn gently left onto NW Innis Arden Way. The on-going streets depart from a rectangular grid so expect many curves ahead. Continue on, passing Shoreline Community College and Shoreview Park. At the stop sign, turn left onto NW 167th St.

To reach the park's northern trailhead, bend right when the street curves around onto 15th Ave NW. Follow that street as it later kinks to the right and becomes 14th Ave NW. At an eventual stop sign, turn left onto Springdale Pl NW, then turn left again onto 15th Ave NW. That street dead ends at the northern trailhead.

If you prefer to begin at the southern trailhead, then stay on NW 167th St instead of bending right onto 15th Ave NW. As you stay on NW 167th St, it will bend around to the right and become 16th Ave NW. That street dead ends at the southern trailhead. (Or, if you are coming from the northern trailhead, turn right off 15th Ave NW onto NW 167th St.)

Neither trailhead has a parking lot. Check signs for any parking restrictions and try to park along the street. This is a residential neighborhood, so please be careful not to block driveways or mailboxes. There are no facilities at either trailhead, so plan accordingly.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 

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Innis Arden Reserve Park

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