Location: Kenmore. Length: More than seven miles of trails. Level of difficulty: Flat-to-rolling plateau trails; moderately steep dirt/gravel...

Share story

Location: Kenmore.

Length: More than seven miles of trails.

Level of difficulty: Flat-to-rolling plateau trails; moderately steep dirt/gravel trails down to Lake Washington (muddy after rains). Paved limited-access road curves around the seminary building for an accessible route.

Setting: In 1926, Archbishop Edward John O’Dea bought this property with his personal inheritance and donated it to the Diocese of Seattle. In 1931, the Saint Edward Seminary building was completed (another nearby seminary building built later is owned by Bastyr University). The seminaries closed in 1977, and the diocese sold 316 acres, including Saint Edward Seminary, to the state for use as a park.

Several trails traverse the upper park plateau, and others plunge down through an open conifer and deciduous forest to a trail that runs along 3,000 feet of undeveloped, low-bank, Lake Washington shoreline. Some trails down to the lake are steeper than others — check the trail maps at the parking-lot kiosk or posted throughout the park to note their degree of difficulty.

The area along the shoreline is an old, formerly submerged terrace exposed in 1916-17 when the lake was lowered almost nine feet with the creation of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Off the southwest corner of the park lies a submerged yet upright forest of conifers. About 1,000 years ago, a massive landslide dumped a forested chunk of hillside into the lake. The trees once extended above the water, posing a threat to navigation, and were dynamited to remove their tops.

Highlights: Last year the historic building and grounds of the park were added to the National Register of Historic Places. The park is in the midst of a land-use planning project, which is examining various plans to develop the seminary building (see Web sites below). A 25-yard, indoor heated swimming pool next to the seminary building offers year-round swimming for the public.

Facilities: Restrooms, fabulous huge playground, phone and water fountain (shut off in winter; behind administration building).

Restrictions: Leash and scoop laws in effect; bikes on designated trails only.

Directions: From Highway 522 (Northeast Bothell Way), near the north end of Lake Washington, turn south on 68th Avenue Northeast, which becomes Juanita Drive Northeast. In about 1.5 miles, turn right at the park sign, and turn right at the fork.

For more information: 425-823-2992 or www.parks.wa.gov or www.c4sep.org. For pool information, call 425-823-6983.

— Cathy McDonald, Special to The Seattle Times

Renton-based freelancer Cathy McDonald, a former geologist, has written about science and nature travel for 20 years. She’s currently a travel guidebook editor at Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door. Contact her: nwwriter@hotmail.com.