Walk in the park | Take a walk in the park with Tan Vinh, to West Seattle’s Camp Long, which has hikes, a climbing rock, rental cabins, a salamander pond and more.
Where: Camp Long
Location: 5200 35th Ave. S.W., West Seattle
Length: 2.8 miles of trails, spread over 68 acres of city park.
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Level of difficulty: Mostly flat, gravel trails. Only the outer loop, also called the “Lower Loop,” has inclines, though not steep.
Facilities: Ten rustic cabins, each with six double beds, are available for rent year round ($50 per night). There is a 20-foot climbing rock, Schurman Rock, plus two restrooms, two picnic shelters and a giant fire ring for campfire gatherings. Ample parking.
Setting: Camp Long is a forest within the city, with houses a few steps outside the park’s gate. It also abuts the West Seattle Golf Course. As a result of the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy, park officials recently spent $1 million for seismic upgrades and sprucing up the 70-year-old stone and wood lodge, which houses both the visitor’s center and the Environmental Learning Center. Park officials are in the middle of a restoration project to plant thousands of small conifers and native plants and get rid of invasive plants that have overrun Camp Long in recent decades.
Named after Judge William Long, the park was built to serve scouting groups. In 1984, park officials made Camp Long more accessible to the general public, allowing the cabins to be rented out and encouraging people to take nature walks and try rock climbing here. Youth programs are still run out of Camp Long, under the umbrella of the Environmental Learning Center. A rope obstacle course was recently erected in the park.
Highlights: The flat Middle Loop Trail (less than a mile) takes you through big-leaf maples and alders. You might spot eagles, ospreys, Cooper’s hawks and barred owls above.
As you circle back, peek at the Longfellow Creek tributary, a snapshot of what this municipal park looked like a century ago — lush with ferns, alders, maples, cedars, salal and huckleberries. Nearby is Polliwog Pond, where Northwestern salamanders breed around mid-February to early March. Their egg masses can be as big as grapefruits.
The lower loop trail is steeper, though not a strenuous walk. It might not be as tranquil a stroll on weekends, when the hum of golf carts from the adjacent golf course might drown out the chirping of birds.
Lots of dog walkers on the trails, and despite the leash law, many owners let their dogs roam free.
Restrictions: Leash and scoop laws in effect. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Directions: Go west across the West Seattle Bridge and follow the main roadway as it curves to the left uphill toward Fauntleroy Way. At the first light, turn left on 35th Avenue Southwest, go 0.8-mile, then turn left on Dawson Street to enter the park.
For more information: 206-684-7434 or www.seattle.gov/parks/environment/camplong.htm
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle.