Hours:Daily, dawn to dusk
about West Hylebos Wetlands State Park:
It's well worth the drive to Federal Way to visit this strange, lovely tract of land. The 69-acre bog, one of the last of its kind in South King County, features a mile-long boardwalk, easily accessible to strollers and shaky walkers, that cuts through pristine wetlands of incredible biodiversity. What this means to families out with kids is that there are endless natural wonders to (respectfully) explore. Kids can pet carpets of thick emerald mosses, or step on deep, spongy peat. Have them try to find the 20-foot-deep sinkhole or rare old-growth Sitka spruce, and tell them to be on the lookout for pileated woodpeckers (the Woody Woodpecker woodpecker - impossible to miss) and flying squirrels high in the trees. Lucky visitors might also glimpse weasels, mink, and mountain beavers, and snakes and amphibians of all kinds. This is a good place to bring your guidebook to all the species of Washington, if you have one. And if this sort of exploration isn't your family's cup of tea, it's still a great walk with kids. It's flat and fast, lovely in springtime or on sunny summer days, and pleasingly desolate at other times of year.
The website has a list of the park's birds, amphibians, mammals, and plants; an interesting history of the area; and a virtual tour of the boardwalk.
Located in Federal Way, about 25 miles south of Seattle. From I-5: Take exit 142-B. Head west on S 348th Street about 0.9 miles and turn left into the parking lot in front of the pioneer cabin. A trail lies west of the cabin that goes to the West Hylebos Wetlands trailhead. Additional parking can be found at the South Federal Way Park and Ride, 901 S 348th Street, approximately 0.4 miles east of the park. The area has a couple of picnic tables, but no facilities.