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Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area

Seattle + Tacoma Metro Area, Washington

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Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area

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  • The visitor center is located in the east parking lot.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • The basketball and tennis courts at the east end of Discovery Park.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • The playground in Discovery Park.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • The Loop Trail travels through mixed forests, shrub lands, and meadows.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • A designated viewpoint near the south pedestrian gate.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • The Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains from Discovery Park.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • A giant radio tower stands near the park's highest point.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • The Fort Lawton Historic Area in Discovery Park.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • The fort was opened in 1898 by the U.S. Army.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • A historic fort building near Discovery Park Boulevard.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • A sandy area near the Loop Trail.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • A view south toward downtown from the sandy area.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • Heading down the South Beach Trail.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • A view of Mount Rainier (14,411') from the South Beach.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • Bainbridge Island and the Olympic Mountains from the South Beach.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • The West Point Lighthouse stands at Seattle's western tip.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • The North Beach makes up the southern portion of Shilshole Bay.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) on the North Beach.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • Large-leave lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus).- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • A ruffled great blue heron (Ardea herodias).- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • Shilshole Bay and marina to the north.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • Climbing the North Beach Trail is mildly strenuous.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
  • A massive bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) just off the Loop Trail.- Discovery Park + Fort Lawton Historic Area
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Excellent views. Diverse natural environment. Over 10 miles of trails.
Cons: 
Near treatment plant.
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Region:
Seattle + Tacoma Metro Area, WA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

It’s no secret that the people of the Pacific Northwest pride themselves on living in a region with such abounding natural beauty. Seattle models this well, and aspects of its cityscape blend bustling urban life and incredibly scenic views of mountain and sea. While you don’t have to travel far within the city to find a great view, scoring a little solitude isn’t always as easy; set within the quiet Magnolia neighborhood on 534 acres of forests, beaches and meadows, Discovery Park has more than enough space and scenery to go around.

Much of the grounds overlook the Puget Sound, and on clear days you can see the Olympic Mountains jutting into the western horizon above Bainbridge Island and Mount Rainier towering over headlands to the south. An efficient, 11.8-mile network of hiking and biking trails navigate the park’s diverse terrain. The Loop Trail is a favorite among visitors, making a wide circuit through the park’s forest and prairie habitats. Chances of viewing wildlife are high, and over 270 different species of birds have been sighted and documented by the Seattle Audubon Society.

Discovery Park rests on the historical grounds of Fort Lawton, which was operated by the United States Army for most of the 20th century. In 1971, almost half of the 1,100 acres were deemed as surplus and later given back to the city, eventually becoming Seattle’s largest public park. Today, many of the buildings remain standing near the center of the park, which has been designated as the Fort Lawton Historic Area. This, along with the West Point Lighthouse at the convergence of the north and south beaches, are both on the National Register for Historic Places.

Note: Car access to the beach area is restricted, and required permits can be obtained from the visitor center.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

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(90 within a 30 mile radius)

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