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West Hylebos Wetlands is located in Federal Way, 20 miles south of Seattle, Washington. It’s not the biggest park in the area, but the 120 acres make large enough to enjoy for a couple hours. Currently it’s only two blocks away from where I’m staying, so I’ve visited more than once in the past couple weeks.
The park, open from dawn to dusk every day, is located at
411 S. 348th St (click for map). The boardwalk path meanders a mile through numerous species of trees, 27 species of moss, 37 species of lichen, 30 species of fungi and 6 species of liverwort. Among the trees you’ll see is the Sitka Spruce, a behemoth rising up to 175 feet! A plaque in the park gives the following information:
This is the largest species of spruce in the world and a favorite of bald eagles and other predatory birds for roosting. A young Sitka’s thin gray bark changes to a purple-brown color with scaly plates as it ages. The sharp, pointy leaves circle the twigs with light brown papery cones hanging from the ends. Native people harvested leaves, pitch and bark for medicinal purposes.
At the far side of the West Hylebos Wetlands is Brook Lake. A platform affords some spectacular views of the scenery, especially at sunset.
The many species of moss and lichen make the area truly memorable. It’s hard to believe how vibrant the greenery is without seeing in person.
At the park entrance is the Barker Cabin. This was the original cabin by one of the first settlers in the area, preserved and accessible in the summer for information on 19th-century life in the Pacific Northwest.
There is a picnic area in the park, and as well as an outhouse. The boardwalk can get slippery, especially in the wetter months (all the time in Seattle), so bring shoes with good traction. Don’t worry about the weather – it’s always the perfect time to see the park.