AN ELEVATED BOARDWALK made of recycled-plastic lumber leads visitors to a “Cedar Cathedral” at the Northwest Stream Center in Everett.

On this late summer day, I see sunbeams shining through the towering evergreens and hear ravens calling out to their mates high up in the spectacular canopy. 

After taking in the relaxing scene and enjoying a much-needed dose of fresh air, I continue my stroll on the half-mile trail. From beautiful illustrated signs along the way that describe the habitat in detail, I learn that the forested wetland is made up of red alders, cottonwoods, Western red cedar and Sitka spruce. New-to-me native plants like skunk cabbage and devil’s club fill a wet meadow. Near the end of the path, a clearing opens. It’s “Wild Bird Alley,” where owls and woodpeckers nest.

Tom Murdoch, the center’s director, says these 20 acres of restored wetlands on the North Creek watershed are “like a small-scale National Park,” where people can learn how to be stewards of our streams and water resources. “If you read all the signs, you’ll come away with a natural-science degree worth of information,” he says. 

The center limits the number of visitors to reduce the impact on the environment. Make an online reservation at streamkeeper.org.