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Try Something New: 9 Lesser-Known King County Parks

The King County Parks system covers a lot of ground, with parks and greenspaces dotted across the county. You've probably got your favorite, but with so many to choose from, why not try a new-to-you park?

The King County Parks system covers a lot of ground. Parks and greenspaces dot the map from the northern reaches of Lake Washington to the outskirts of Enumclaw, and from the beaches of Vashon Island to the shores of the Snoqualmie River.

Shorter trails combine with a regional network of long-distance trails to offer opportunities for non-motorized travel throughout King County. These trails offer plenty of chances for a short hike during a busy week or a weekend adventure with family, and they're an excellent source of snow-free hiking during the winter.

WTA knows these trails well. In fact, we have had a hand in building or maintaining many of them. During the winter, Puget Sound work parties transition from the mountains to lowland parks around King County.

Chances are we’ll be working in one of your favorite spots at some point this season. Say hi if you see a crew, or, try joining one!

Moss Lake

Location: Duvall area
Mileage: 2.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: minimal

Moss Lake. Photo by Yoh! Member.
Moss Lake peeking out between the trees. Photo by Yoh! Member.

A short drive from the town of Duvall, this park sits just east of the Snoqualmie Valley. The forested park centers around Moss Lake with trails winding through the trees along its shore. This site also boasts the unique geologic feature of a bog. Views of the lake peek through the trees here and there as these trails, which have seen a lot of work from WTA volunteers, wind through the trees.

> Plan your trip to Moss Lake using WTA’s Hiking Guide

Tolt-MacDonald Park

Location: Carnation Area
Mileage: 12 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Tolt-Macdonald Park. Photo by The Menace.
Get familiar with ferns at Tolt-Macdonald Park. Photo by The Menace.

This park has many different features. On the east side of the river, you’ll find sports fields and a historic barn, but cross the river on an exciting suspension bridge and you can plug into the network of trails that radiates out from the campground. Stay low and parallel the river or head up into the forest for a good workout and to admire an array of native trees and shrubs.

> Plan your trip to Tolt-MacDonald Park using WTA’s Hiking Guide

Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

Location: City of Snoqualmie Area
Mileage: 6.5 miles, one way
Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Preston-Snoqualmie Trail. Photo by explorerdogs.
The Preston-Snoqualmie Trail connects these two towns by way of a paved trail. Photo by explorerdogs.

This paved trail is popular with cyclists as well as hikers. The route connects the towns of Preston and Snoqualmie and features a section along the Raging River Natural Area and a viewpoint of Snoqualmie Falls. 

> Plan your trip to the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail using WTA’s Hiking Guide

Chinook Bend Natural Area

Location: Snoqualmie Valley
Mileage: 1.25 miles of trails
Elevation Gain: 50 feet

Chinook Bend. Photo by wafflesnfalafel.
The bridge at Chinook Bend Natural Area adds to the beautiful combination of river scenery and farmland feel. Photo by wafflesnfalafel.

Tucked into a patchwork of farmland along the Snoqualmie River Valley, this natural area provides a serene experience. Keep an eye out for fish in the river and birds in the sky — or just let your mind wander along the riverbank as you look upstream to the trusses of a bridge spanning the river.

> Plan your trip to the Chinook Bend Natural Area using WTA’s Hiking Guide

Dockton Forest

Location: Vashon Island
Mileage: 9.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 350 feet

Dockton Forest. Photo by AlexKyger.
Dockton Forest has lots of trail options to make your own loop hike. Photo by AlexKyger.

This forest contains an extensive network of trails, which sit between two shores of Maury Island, a peninsula on Vashon Island. Visitors can walk from one edge of the peninsula, at Quartermaster Harbor, to the Puget Sound on the other, or just explore the forest or enjoy the views from atop the bluffs.

> Plan your trip to Dockton Forest using WTA’s Hiking Guide

Maury Island Marine Park

Location: Vashon Island
Mileage: 3 miles of trails
Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Maury Island Marine Park. Photo by Spartin253.
Maury Island Marine Park is one of the best places to experience the Puget Sound. Photo by Spartin253.

This park offers an exceptional Puget Sound experience. The trails here wind through the forests and open bluffs and descend down to the beach. Madrona Trees grow through the gaps in the evergreens and big views of sky and saltwater are everywhere.

> Plan your trip to Maury Island Marine Park using WTA’s Hiking Guide

Soos Creek Trail

Location: Kent Area
Mileage: 12.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: minimal

Soos Creek Trail. Photo by BikingDuck.
A section of the serene Soos Creek Trail. Photo by BikingDuck.

This is a wonderful, paved trail that runs through a greenbelt outside of Kent. There are multiple access points, and it’s popular with cyclists, runners and walkers. Enjoy a walk along this corridor which passes through forested sections and wetlands that are great for birdwatching.

> Plan your trip to Soos Creek Trail using WTA’s Hiking Guide

Mount Peak (Pinnacle Peak)

Location: Enumclaw
Mileage: 1.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

Mount Peak (Pinnacle Peak). Photo by Marley.
Views of Rainier can be found on the south side of Pinnacle Peak. Photo by Marley.

This trail takes visitors to the top of a peak just outside of Enumclaw. It’s a climb all the way, but once on top, hikers can take in views of the White River watershed and Mount Rainier in all its glory. This was once the site of a lookout building and a few remnants remain today.

> Plan your trip to Mount Peak using WTA’s Hiking Guide

Green River Natural Area-O’grady Trail

Location: Auburn Area
Mileage: 6.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 350 feet

Green River Natural Area. Photo by Marley.
It's no surprise they named this river the Green River. Photo by Marley.

The Green River Natural Area is a vast swath of public land comprised of steep forested hills leading down to the river. It’s close to the urban center of Auburn but it feels worlds away with its fern-covered big leaf maples and meandering trails. The trail system here is varied and makes many loop options possible.

> Plan your trip to the Green River Natural Area using WTA’s Hiking Guide