This pair of back-to-back urban parks just west of Shoreline Community College offers some very tall trees, small creeks, and a network of (mostly) good trails with a few ups and downs. Wildflowers, ferns, moss, birds: they are all here.
Currently, there's even a "hidden" artificial lake, constructed when William Boeing - of aircraft fame - owned property here in the 1920s. He created a private hunting and fishing preserve, complete with his own fish hatchery to stock the lake.
Later, Boeing donated the land to the city of Shoreline. While initially thought of as a school site, in the end it became a city park - a gain for hikers today.
But now the future of Hidden Lake is in doubt. The city of Shoreline is developing plans to remove the dam and to restore the original flows to Boeing Creek. More information on the complex factors involved in this issue. If or when the dam (and lake) are removed some details of your hike could be different.
The park offers a large network of trails, and before you begin your hike it is essential to download a trail map. The map-makers evidently visualized hikers beginning at the northern end of the park so, unlike most other maps, this one has north at the bottom.
You could, of course, set out and explore on your own with map in hand. Or, for a more structured approach that will get you to most of the most interesting park features, we offer a suggested loop hike here.
From the parking area, begin by heading west on the wide concrete path between the playing fields, then circle around to the left behind the softball field. When you come to a signpost "Hidden Lake, 0.2 mi," turn right onto the obvious trail.
Depending on the time of year, the trail initially may seem dry, and in the spring there may be a lot of weedy Scot's broom and some blackberry vines. The few madrona and fir trees here are of no great height. This may seem an inauspicious beginning for your hike, but it gets much better soon.
Just before reaching a set of stairs, note an unsigned path heading slightly right. It's not a social trail, and it actually leads to a small wooden deck with a minimal view of Hidden Lake through the trees.
The view will improve. Just return to the main trail and continue on down. As you round a corner to the right, the vegetation changes. You will be surrounded by much larger trees, and by a lot ferns and moss. This greener, moister habitat will be with you for most of the rest of your hike.
The views of the lake will improve too, although the far shore is outside the park and it sports a few homes, some more visible than others. You are likely to see a few ducks on the lake.
Continue upstream on the trail along Boeing Creek. The next quarter mile may be the most challenging part of your hike. Some sections of the trail have been eroded, and in places you may find it somewhat rudimentary.
As of spring 2017, there is a short section of trail that offers the alternatives of dropping down a few feet to the creek bank (slightly moist footing) or clambering up a few feet to a higher trail. Either way, sturdy roots are available as hand holds. Experienced hikers will have no problem at all here, although a trekking pole might be helpful for balance. Before your hike, you might check recent trip reports to see if the situation has evolved.
If anyone in your party is uncomfortable with this section of trail as it is on the day of your hike, just backtrack and consult your map for alternative routes. Other park trails, as of spring 2017, are in good condition.
The ongoing trail crosses Boeing Creek on a series of flat-topped stepping stones and then climbs steeply. A side trail to the right leads nowhere - that ongoing trail has been completely removed by a small landslide. It's worth a quick look, but keep well back from the precipitous edge! Then return to the main trail and continue on uphill where the trail levels off.
Here, and elsewhere in the park, there are a few impressively large Douglas-firs and large western red cedars. Reflect that such trees, rare today, once were common throughout the region.
Continue on, staying left at various trail forks, and approach the northern boundary of the park at NW 175th St. Along this section of trail, there are some information boards that are worth reading, including one about the 1996 New Years Eve Flood.
You've probably noticed that your map shows three loop trails in the park, each depicted in a different color. The trail here at the northern boundary is part of the "white" loop on your map.
As you continue on the "white" trail, it loops around and rejoins the Boeing Creek Loop (the "orange" trail on your map.) Turn left here. Soon, come to a signed side trail on the right that leads about 200 feet to an overlook. It's worth checking out. There, a small bench sits beneath one of the largest Douglas firs in the park, and offers views down on the wooded creek.
Return to the main "orange" trail and continue on parallel to Boeing Creek. Soon you will come to the stony "Dry Creek Crossing." It's likely to be dry, but after a major rain storm you might find considerable water here. Cross, if it's safe, head up a few stairs, and at the T-junction turn right, still on the "orange" trail.
As you continue, there are good views back down on the lower trail and the overlook.
In about 750 feet, at a sign post for "Off leash Dog Park .17 mi," turn left. You won't actually get to the dog park, since a bit farther along, at a sign "Forest Loop Trail 158 ft," turn sharply right. After what may seem more than 158 feet reach the signed Forest Loop Trail (it's the "dark green" trail on your map) and continue left there, climbing a bit.
At an unsigned T-junction stay right (the left branch leads out to the college.) At an obvious high point you can check out the view (it's minimal because of all the trees) then continue on down the stairs and trail to your left.
This route (still the "dark green" trail) leads to the back side of the tennis courts where a sharp right turn at a T-junction will lead you to a series of stairs that pass between the tennis courts. These will take you back to your trailhead parking area.
In season you may see a number of wildflowers along the trails. Very early in the spring look for trillium and bleeding heart; later for avens, buttercup, Oregon grape, red currant, fringe cup, oxalis and salmon berry; still later for thimble berry, ocean spray and foxglove. It's likely you will see others. If you are a flower fancier, bring your flower guide and try to identify them. In any event, if you file a trip report please mention which wildflowers you have seen.
You are likely to hear a lot of birdsong, particularly in the spring, and note the sounds of woodpeckers tapping. You may see a few small birds, and some crows and robins, while an occasional hawk or eagle may soar overhead when you are in a more open area. Many other avian sightings are possible. Please mention them if you do a trip report.