Edmonds Treks: Meadowdale Park — a green slice of urban solitude
By Marlene Martzke
There are few urban respites that provide a full service experience: trees, water, views, and the stillness of the forest. Stillness? Urban? Yes, those two terms can be used in the same sentence and not conjure up some kind of apocalyptic scenario. Meadowdale Park of Snohomish County is that strange mix of being in the middle of a bustling metro area and finding a place where salmon still run in the stream, forest giants tower over you, and the melee of city noises cannot penetrate the lush canopy and undergrowth.
It is just you, woodsy loveliness, and your thoughts. At least for a little while. Remember, you might not be the only one seeking forest seclusion. Meadowdale Park is a popular place that stretches across 105 acres and is bordered by busy cities Lynnwood and Edmonds, so its path can be considered of the more-traveled variety. It’s common to encounter families, joggers, walking clubs, and tourists along the way.
It’s not to say that you won’t get a forest hiking experience. An out and back trail meanders 1.25 miles through the trees down the slope to the water for a round trip total of a little over 2.5 miles and an elevation gain of 425 feet. Often you are flanked to the south by a babbling Lunds Gulch Creek racing you down the hill to where it wins the race and empties into the Sound. The creek is named after John Lund who first homesteaded the area in 1878.
The trail also offers various fine examples of forest flora to engage your eyes and nose: cedar, huckleberry, salmonberry, Oregon grape, and salal just to name a few. Cedar, hemlock, big leaf maples, and Douglas fir shade the wide, maintained trail. Several large cedar stumps remain of giants who were felled a century ago in harvesting lumber. If you look closely, you can still see wedge marks in the sides of the stumps where loggers hammered in boards to give them something to stand on while they sawed away.
Before reaching the big water, depending if you loop to the left or to the right, you’ll reach the Park Ranger residence in the clearing. It is a quaint place with steep roof and one side of small paned glass windows. Right after you’ll come upon the playing fields and covered picnic shelter. Go a little further and you will find the entrance to the beach via an access tunnel beneath the train tracks. This was built for both humans and migrating chum salmon alike to reach the beach – humans walking on a boardwalk above the salmon swimming below. Whenever we spot a train coming around the bend in either direction, we are sure to scoot inside this tunnel to listen to tons of steel rumbling like a small earthquake over our heads.
The beach fans out and offers a wide view of the Sound, Whidbey Island, and the Olympic Mountains. Plenty of driftwood logs and a couple of picnic tables offer opportunities to take a seat and relax. It’s the perfect turn around point to enjoy lunch, a snack or a nap. And for those who just want a day out under the trees without the walk down and back up, a small playground and picnic tables can be found topside of the trailhead.
© 2012 Marlene Martzke
Marlene Martzke is a blogger for The Northwest Trekker Bleker, a blog that reports on places and people of the Pacific Northwest.