I recently shared how I took my kids on the BPA trail in Federal Way. Several of you chimed in, asking if I’d also visited the West Hylebos. I hadn’t – in fact, I had no clue what you all were talking about. But after a quick Google search I was, “oh… that place!” I thought that place was just an old grange where various clubs met. I had no idea it was an old cabin, a huge trail on a boardwalk, and a protected watershed.
Last night I decided to take the kids out to explore it. Except little girl wanted to stay home instead, so I left her with Daddy. So it was just me and the boy.
An awesome feature of West Hylebos? FREE PARKING. It’s also easily accessible off 348th in Federal Way, WA, just a few blocks shy of the Opus Crossing shopping center (the newer one with the Jimmy Mac’s Roadhouse, McDonalds, and Panda Express).
We also came across an old orchard alongside the trail. I have no idea if the orchard is protected, owned by someone, or open to the public. It made me think about the cabin and I envisioned Ma and Pa planting apple trees on their early homestead.
We’re reading The Orchadist this month for book club, which is set in Oregon during the turn of the century. Here’s my lil’ orchadist.
There are many charming little spots along the trail, like this foot bridge we found. Photographers, hello?!
We found this great little pond at the trail’s edge. My son wanted to come back and fish for salmon. (Just to catch and release, and not eat, he insisted.)
I adore this picture I took, but it makes me happy and sad at the same time. They grow too fast, don’t they?
We found about a dozen rabbits on the trail last night! If you go, watch for them in the grassy areas just next to the blackberry bushes. So cute!
There is a great boardwalk that takes you through the wetlands and it’s just…. magical. Giant ferns, old trees that creak in the wind, strange lichens… and apparently there are a whole host of creatures that live in this protected area! We only saw birds and rabbits, but turns out river otters, flying squirrels, coyotes, frogs, snakes, turtles, weasels and more make this place home! Who knows what you might spy on the trail!
The boardwalk meanders for about a mile. It’s a nice, flat trail suitable for families, strollers, wheelchairs.
It may seem like a crying shame, but we did not get all the way down to the lake. In a way, I feel like I’m delivering a story and missing the point by saying we didn’t get to the boardwalk’s end because it was getting late and growing dark. So I hesitated sharing this post with you. On the other hand, maybe you’ll see this post as a great “tease” and head there yourself! I plan on taking my kids back there in the next few days (and bringing sister this time!).
There are some picnic tables and plenty area suitable for packing in a meal. (Just make sure to pack it all back out, of course!) I think this spot would make a lovely place to take a romantic walk, or catch up with an old friend, or spend an afternoon by yourself (if you’re so fortunate!) with some good coffee and a journal.
This place absolutely captured my imagination – and my son’s – and we’ll be back very soon for more adventures. A huge THANK YOU to those of you who suggested West Hylebos! If you know of another nearby place that I can take my kids to explore and share here on the blog? Please leave a comment below! All I ask is that it’s kid-friendly and FREE to visit.
You might also be interested to read about the BPA Trail, located in Federal Way, Washington.