Starting at the Saint Edwards Seminary within Saint Edward State Park, the South Canyon Trail descends from the well-groomed lawns of the historic seminary into a lush and more wild third-growth forest of Douglas fir, western redcedars, bigleaf maples, and an undergrowth dominated by sword ferns and vine maple.
Once on the trail, it's roughly a 0.75-mile downhill hike to reach Lake Washington, the hike's sole destination, where 4-foot thick old-growth black cottonwoods shade one of the lake's most secluded and underutilized shorelines. Whether because of the length of the walk, or a silent protest against purchasing a Discover Pass, or the overwhelming popularity of nearby O.O. Denny Park and Juanita Beach Park, this park's swimming area seems to be completely overlooked, making it one of the most relaxed and tranquil settings anywhere on Lake Washington.
Once you're ready to make the return hike, venture onto any one of the park's trails that all eventually lead back to the seminary. This includes the Grotto Trail, which passes by a unique alcove that is popular among locals for weddings and other private gatherings.