Carkeek Park is a 216-acre natural area located at the mouth of Pipers Creek just a few minutes from downtown in Seattle's Broadview neighborhood. This fascinating area is a mix of forest, wetland, and beach that offers visitors a range of activities and excellent views. The park features a variety of trails and terrain; whether you're looking for a great playground for kids or a few miles of trails for walking or workouts, Carkeep's diversity accommodates. Trails are mostly level and easy, and several sections are ADA accessible. There are plenty of individual picnic areas that are first-come, first-served, and the two large picnic shelters make this a good option for groups (call 206.684.4081 for reservations). Restrooms are located near the playground, and a large, open field sits just south of the playground, as well. The Environmental Learning Center, an award-winning green building built to promote community activities and environmental awareness, is available for school programs and rentals, but it is no longer open for public visits due to budget cuts.
The large beach at Carkeek Park is a favorite spot on hot days, and it may not get the same crowds that attend nearby Golden Gardens. A railroad bisects the park, which may sound like a significant setback, but not in this case. Beach visitors walk over a pedestrian bridge to access Puget Sound, and a lucky few may even get the chance to stand over one of the rushing trains. It is truly a unique feature of the park. Once on the other side of the tracks, the pebble and sand beach unfolds as a small spit to the south. There is plenty of room to accommodate parties large and small. While this is an excellent beach for sunbathing and swimming (be prepared for Puget Sound temperatures), leave the boat or paddleboard at home, as the carry across the bridge and down the stairs would be difficult to say the least. Do bring a camera, however, especially if you visit Carkeek near sunset. The view of Puget Sound and the Olympics from this beach is one of the best in the city.