My Edmonds News is proud to introduce a new column, “An Edmonds Kind of Kid,” that will explore activities available to children in Edmonds.
By David W. Edgerton
When planning an outdoor activity for the kids in Edmonds, it’s natural for parents to first think of visiting the beach, the waterfront or our charming downtown shops. But let’s not forget that Edmonds was settled for its lush forests of valuable timber. And Edmonds’ remaining wooded areas are still a great way for parents and kids to get a little fresh air, exercise and learn more about our city’s history and environment.
The best part is, you don’t have to travel far to explore what much of Edmonds must have looked like 100 or so years ago. Turn off the video games and cell phones and head to the intersection of Walnut Street and Bowdoin [MAP]. There you’ll find Edmond’s emerald-green jewel, Yost Park (there’s also an entrance at the north end of the park on Main Street). Tucked unassumingly behind Yost Pool, the 48-acre park boasts about a mile of well-marked trails and plenty of easy-to-traverse terrain.
Print out this trail map available from the City of Edmonds and head to the park on the next bright, clear day. Make sure you and the kids are wearing sturdy shoes with good traction (especially after a rain). You can stick to the trails that circle Yost Ravine for an easier hike, or head down to see Shell Creek and cross some of its many bridges. When visiting in autumn, keep an eye out for spawning salmon – taking care to never disturb them.
The trails are lined with many plant species native to the Pacific Northwest and more than a few invasive species that were introduced by settlers. Discussing the difference between native and invasive species is a good way to share the fragility of our ecosystem and why its preservation is important. If you’re lucky, you may also spot native owls, woodpeckers, hawks, squirrels, raccoons, tree frogs and salamanders.
To help keep a pleasant walk through the woods from turning into a tedious lecture, make it a “Natural Treasure Hunt.” You can download and print this treasure hunt list (or create your own) and challenge the kids to see how many of the listed plant species they can find. The City of Edmonds also offers the Yost Park Quest. It’s a map, story and series of clues that lead young explorers to a secret box where they’ll find a stamp to officiate completing the quest and a guestbook to sign.
Of course, you don’t have to make every trip into the woods a classroom experience. It’s equally valuable and pleasant for kids and parents to just step into the green woods, breathe the moist air and let the craziness of the modern world melt away.
Yost Park is open year-round from dawn to dusk. Dogs are welcome on a leash and scoop laws are in effect. Trails are not recommended for strollers or wheeled vehicles due to rough terrain, steep hills and frequently muddy ground.
David W. Edgerton is an Edmonds resident, parent and author of “Tear-Free in Disneyland,” A parent’s guide to less stress and more fun for the whole family – available at Edmonds Bookshop and Amazon.com. You can read our interview with Edgerton about that book here.