That’s the start of a trail into the West Duwamish Greenbelt — which covers many acres of eastern West Seattle but isn’t nearly as well-known as the trails of Lincoln Park, Camp Long, Schmitz Park, and so on. From that trailhead at 14th SW and SW Holly (map), we joined a group Friday afternoon on one of the free guided monthly hikes offered by the West Seattle-based Nature Consortium, whose executive director Nancy Whitlock led the way:
More photos, video, and what we learned about this semi-secret stretch of greenery that’s not very far off the beaten (and driven) path, ahead:
Close to the 14th/Holly trailhead, Whitlock pointed out that clearing, one of many areas in the West Duwamish Greenbelt where her group has been working for years on habitat restoration. This spot, she explained, was buried in blackberries, which you probably know are non-native, invasive, and chokingly fast–growing. From there, back under the cover of trees, mostly deciduous species that moved in after the native conifers were cut down decades ago. Along the way, some small surprises, such as a migratory-wildlife marker you’d miss if you blink, celebrating the golden-crowned sparrow:
One point of whimsy, followed by history, along the way – this video clip feaures what Whitlock described as a “native street pole,” and her explanation of the historical reason it’s there:
This greenbelt still isn’t free from wheel-induced danger; our group was supposed to hike to a pond where red-legged frogs are living, but Whitlock turned us back halfway because of trail damage she said was caused by dirt bikers.
Nonetheless, there are miles of passable trail. So if you want to walk/hike into the West Duwamish Greenbelt, there are many entrance points; besides the one we used at 14th/Holly (here’s that map again), we also have been to Pigeon Point Park, next to the southeast side of Cooper Elementary (map), and before the end of our Friday hike, we saw an entrance from Highland Park Way. Not far from the trailhead, we also passed a clearing with South Seattle Community College in view – but most of the rest of the way, development was out of sight, if not entirely out of mind or earshot.
The Nature Consortium leads guided hikes every third Friday (call to make sure you’re on the list for the next one) and also invites public participation in its frequent restoration work parties (we previewed one in this video report a few months back). NC also sponsors the Arts in Nature Festival at Camp Long in August; here’s its section on the NC website. They’ve also just started blogging about what they’re up to (find that site here).
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