Fun in my neck of the woods: West Hylebos, Federal Way

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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.

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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).

DSCN0268The trail is easy to walk and there are lots of nice grassy areas, surrounded by blackberry bushes. I may have to return come blackberry time!

DSCN0300 (800x600)We spied many, many salmonberries, all fully ripe last night too.

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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.

DSCN0272 (800x600)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.

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There are many charming little spots along the trail, like this foot bridge we found. Photographers, hello?!

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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.)

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I adore this picture I took, but it makes me happy and sad at the same time. They grow too fast, don’t they?

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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!

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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!
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The boardwalk meanders for about a mile. It’s a nice, flat trail suitable for families, strollers, wheelchairs.

DSCN0285 (600x800)He told me he was looking for dragonflies.

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!).

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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.

DSCN0294 (600x800)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.

For more information about today’s adventure, please read, Friends of the Hylebos, and Wikipedia.

You might also be interested to read about the BPA Trail, located in Federal Way, Washington.

15 thoughts on “Fun in my neck of the woods: West Hylebos, Federal Way”

  1. We’ve been wanting to go there for years! I read an article about it in the newspaper and it sounded very similar to a Wetlands area we used to visit in Utah (that we loved) when our kids were small. Thanks for sharing, now we will have to visit for sure.

  2. Your son is adorable. What is it about rubber boots that make them the universal foot wear of kids?

    • The kids wear boots pretty much everywhere. I love them b/c they are easy to put on – just slip them on and go!

  3. Thank you, I often drive by that place and had no clue lol. I will definitely be making a trip there with my boys. Looks beautiful and peaceful!! Again thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Every Saturday from 10am-2pm Highline Community College’s Marine Science and Technology Center (MaST) is open to the public for free (donations accepted.) It’s in Redondo next to the Salty’s. There is free parking but it fills up fast, though the last time I went it was only $1 to park in the parking lot. It’s a mini aquarium with 11 fish tanks including two touch tanks where kids can touch anemones and starfish. While it is small and definitely wouldn’t take up much of the day, walking along the boardwalk and watching the scuba divers would definitely add to the experience. Here’s the website:

    • Yes, it is! I think it’s only open during certain days/times. It was closed when we were there.

  5. Also, you’ve GOT to check out Nelson Nature Park in Edgewood. There is a large open space, great for picnics, games, etc. There’s also a trail that goes through a small forest that my 5-year old LOVES to explore!

  6. In the same area as Hylebos Wetlands and BPA Trail is a small ravine called “Julia’s Gulch”

    It’s a great place to walk.

    I know it’s been a long time since this was posted, but it’s still worth looking at Julia’s Gulch

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