Eastsiders will have a wider choice of places to play starting this weekend, when two parks open. After 15 years of property acquisition...

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Eastsiders will have a wider choice of places to play starting this weekend, when two parks open.

After 15 years of property acquisition, planning and construction, Lewis Creek Park, a 56-acre parcel in south Bellevue, will open with trails, athletic fields and environmental learning opportunities for visitors.

In the Issaquah Highlands, Bark Park will be the city’s first off-leash dog park, adjacent to the existing Grandview Park.

Both parks officially open tomorrow.

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Lewis Creek Park, a $12.3 million project for Bellevue, has been in the works since 1990, when the city began buying property along Lakemont Boulevard. Construction started in April 2004 and recently finished.

The site includes forested areas and cleared pasture land and is bisected by Lewis Creek. More than 80 percent of the park will be preserved in its natural state, providing an educational experience for visitors.

To help people understand and appreciate the wetlands, forest and wildlife, the city built a 5,000-square-foot visitors center and installed interpretive signs along the many trails.

Lewis Creek Park grand opening Tomorrow, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., 5808 Lakemont Blvd., Bellevue. Celebration will include family activities, games, refreshments and guided tours.

Bark Park opening celebration Tomorrow, 11 a.m., beside Grandview Park, Northeast Magnolia Street and 25th Avenue Northeast, Issaquah. Party will include a ribbon-cutting, Frisbee dog show, food and games.

The park also has a play area for children, two nonlighted Little League fields — one that converts to a soccer field — a basketball court, picnic tables and restrooms.

Park trails will connect to the trail system south of Interstate 90, providing hikers and bikers with a multitude of options.

“It’s like a trail junction right there,” said Patrick Foran, parks director. He said the park is unique because of the many different uses and its location.

“It was one of the last larger open spaces available south of I-90. It’s kind of a crossroads; the trails all come together right there, and it connects a number of large neighborhoods,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a neighborhood gathering spot.”

The park, on former ranch land, will maintain its equestrian roots. Under the master plan, the park will gain some daytime stable and pasture areas to accommodate horses and equestrian programs.

“We’re hoping to be the bookend to Kelsey Creek Park,” said Foran, referring to the popular spot for horse lovers in central Bellevue.

He said that after 15 years of planning, including lots of community input, the park opening is a milestone. “It’s not every day you celebrate the opening of a 56-acre park. This is a big deal for Bellevue.”

Bark Park, Issaquah’s first off-leash dog park, will feature two acres of open space, water fountains for humans and dogs, benches and a picnic area.

Residents of the Highlands, a planned community overlooking Lake Sammamish, raised more than $26,000 for the construction.

The park is open to everyone and will celebrate its opening with a party tomorrow featuring Woof-D{+2}, a freestyle Frisbee dog show.

“We’re so excited,” said Vicki Stier, executive director of the Highlands’ homeowners association. “We’re going to cut the ribbon and watch the dogs run free.”

Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or nsinger@seattletimes.com