If you like : sweeping sound and mountain views, picnicking, hiking, cycling, beach combing, old lighthouses, and military history Discovery Park is a fun place to visit.
The park, which was originally the Ft. Lawton army base (dating back to 1900), sits on a bluff high above Puget Sound on the northwestern edge of the quiet Magnolia neighborhood about 20 minutes from downtown.
I usually park my car on the street at the southern entrance and either park on the street or in the parking lot.
From there I take one of the trails through scotch broom, silal, and blackberry bushes down to the sandy bluff with the water far below. I always thought this part of the park would be a good exterior filming location for a gothic film classic like Wuthering Heights situated high above the sea.
There are picnic tables and several viewpoints as you follow the trail south along the ridge. Soon you'll see the trail signs to the beach and the West Point lighthouse. Lots of steps and pretty easy going down. But the return trip will give your legs and lungs a workout. Good idea to wear hiking boots or sturdy footwear. The trail spills out at a beach where you can wander amid lots of driftwood. The lighthouse is just a few minutes walk north from the trail.
The climb back up does come with some convenient, platformed view points where you can take breaks along the way. At the top of the blluff you have a choice of different trails for further exploring through fir and cedar trees and other lush greenery. You just might glimpse an eagle or two who like to hang out at the park.
Because I am a history buff I usually head up the hill toward the old Ft. Lawton parade ground to stroll amid some of the original buildings including the chapel, barracks, stables and the post exchange. None are open to the public but have been preserved quite well and a few are on the national historic register.
The facility was a particularly busy place during World War II in the Pacific theater and the Korean conflict as a distribution center for troops who shipped out at nearby Pier 91.
German POW's were held at Ft. Lawton. In fact one of the prisoners is buried in the post cemetery.
These asphalt roads allow for good cycling, jogging and walking and I always see young families with strollers. Most of the trails are of the dirt or gravel variety but there are paved portions as well.
This park is very popular with locals like me and I would assume many out of state visitors.
Other than the top of the Space Needle and Queen Anne Hill I don't know that you'll find greater views of Mt. Rainier, the ferries, ships, and sailboats,plying Elliott Bay and Puget Sound and mountain views than at Discovery Park.
For that alone a visit to this special place is very much worthwhile.
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