Juanita Bay Park is a popular winter walk, well-interpreted
Take a walk through Lake Washington wetlands on paved trails and boardwalks of Kirkland's Juanita Bay Park.
Special to The Seattle Times
Location: Juanita Bay Park, 2201 Market St., Kirkland
Length: About two miles of trails.
Level of difficulty: Level paved trails and boardwalks.
Setting: This accessible park is used as a popular winter promenade along the northeast edge of Lake Washington — trails keep you up out of the shoreline muck while immersing you in a wide variety of wetland habitats. A free monthly interpretive walk offered by volunteers helps you understand the wildlife that lives here (an increasingly rare opportunity in these days of budget cuts; see below for details).
The park's trails consist of a paved pedestrian causeway (an old roadway bridge) that runs north-south along the east edge of the lake, and two boardwalks that offer additional access to the shoreline. (From the parking lot, a paved trail over the lawn connects to the left to the two boardwalk trails; head right to access the causeway.)
Highlights: This area's human history is brought to life in well-done interpretive signs situated near the north and south ends of the pedestrian causeway (the southern signs are marked by a tall wooden structure). Before 1830, a Duwamish winter village existed here, and Forbes Creek was named after early white pioneers. Among the Forbes' friends were other noted Eastside pioneers, including Bothell founders, David and Mary Anne Bothell, and Woodinville founders Ira and Susan Woodin. When the Lake Washington Ship Canal was built, the level of the lake was lowered almost nine feet (the structures out in the water mid-causeway are remnants of docks from a former ferry landing).
The 110-acre refuge has now been reclaimed by wildlife, and birds, beavers and amphibians thrive here. On several visits I've seen bald eagles perched in the same tall conifer near the end of the west boardwalk.
Facilities: Seasonal restroom and water fountain (closed in winter) and portable toilet near parking lot.
Restrictions: Leash and scoop laws in effect. Bikes allowed on causeway.
Directions: From northbound Interstate 405, take Exit 20A (Northeast 116th Street) and turn left onto Northeast 116th Street. Turn left onto 98th Avenue Northeast (which becomes Market Street), and drive about a half-mile along the lakeshore to the parking lot on the right (across from the fire station). From southbound I-405, take Exit 20 (Northeast 124th Street exit) and turn right onto 124th. Turn left onto 100th Avenue Northeast, which becomes 98th Avenue Northeast (which becomes Market Street), and continue as above.
For more information: A guided walk is offered the first Sunday of every month; bring binoculars and meet at the parking lot at 1 p.m. (another walk, spotlighting birds, runs the third Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m.). 425-587-3300 or www.ci.kirkland.wa.us or www.myparksandrecreation.com.Renton-based freelancer Cathy McDonald, who trained as a geologist, has written about science and nature travel for 20 years. She's also a travel guidebook editor and researcher at Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door. Contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org.