Special to The Seattle Times
Length: About a half-mile of trails.
Level of difficulty: Flat to moderately steep dirt/bark/gravel trails.
Setting: While oriented mainly toward children, there are so many things to see in this charming 51-acre park that it's easy for everyone to find something intriguing. From the parking lot, trails descend into a small glen that holds a fishing pond and the wetlands of Allen Creek. Paths climb the hill on the far side of the valley to a playground with a dinosaur theme, a forest of Douglas fir, cedar and alder, and a ballfield (more nature trails are accessible from the ballfield parking lot). The park incorporates a small farm once owned by the Jennings family, who raised animals and fruit.
Highlights: Look out over the wetlands of Allen Creek, a salmon-spawning stream, and admire the showy yellow leaves of skunk cabbage in the early spring along a short trail behind the fishing pond. A playground near the parking lot leads to the petting-zoo barn, which may have calves, pigs, goats, burros, ducks or rabbits available to visit.
Gardening enthusiasts can admire specimens in the Master Gardener demonstration gardens. Devotees of history can enter the Gehl House, a restored 1889 pioneer cabin; don't miss the 1901 steam-donkey engine behind the cabin, typical of the equipment used to log this area's original forests.
The petting zoo is now open weekends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Wednesday through Sunday from June 16 to Aug. 26.
For more information on the park, call 360-651-5085. The Gehl House Museum is open weekends Memorial Day to Labor Day, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; there is no admission fee. For information on the museum, call 360-651-5028.
Facilities: Restrooms, water, phone, two playgrounds, fishing pond (kids 12 and under), demonstration gardens, seasonal petting zoo, ballfield and historical cabin.
Restrictions: Leash and scoop laws in effect. Don't feed the ducks.
Directions: From I-5 (heading north or south), take Exit 199 and head east on Fourth Street (Highway 528). Turn left on 47th Avenue Northeast/Liberty Avenue, then bear right on Armar (Arlington-Marysville) Road. The park is ahead on the right.
Cathy McDonald is co-author with Stephen Whitney of "Nature Walks In and Around Seattle," with photographs by James Hendrickson (The Mountaineers, second edition, 1997).