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Thursday, December 18, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Walkabout

Fauntleroy Park trails

Special to The Seattle Times

Location: West Seattle.

Length: About a mile and a half of interlaced trails.

Level of difficulty: Flat to moderately steep dirt/gravel trails (often muddy) with sections of boardwalk (very slippery when covered with wet leaves).

Setting: The headwaters of Fauntleroy Creek are at the head of this lush 32-acre ravine, and the stream descends 300 vertical feet on its milelong journey down to Puget Sound. Efforts have been under way to undo the effects of years of land development, including rocks and logs placed strategically in the stream channel to stabilize it against erosion. Historically a habitat for cutthroat trout, the stream has also supported coho salmon since 1994 as a result of schoolchildren's efforts.

Highlights: This mixed forest of big-leaf maples and alders, combined with conifers, shades the ravine to offer habitat for a wide variety of birds and other animals. The park is used as an excellent resource for environmental education. In cooperation with teachers, creek volunteers host field trips throughout the year. Denny Middle School recently began a yearlong erosion-control and revegetation project, while the Kapka Cooperative Primary School is in its second year of helping to establish and maintain native plantings.

Facilities: Restrooms at the YMCA west of the park.

Restrictions: No bikes; leash and scoop laws in effect; keep pets away from water sources.

Directions: From Interstate 5, take Exit 163A west (South Spokane Street/West Seattle Freeway). After you cross the West Seattle Bridge, take a left on 35th Avenue Southwest, and in about three miles, turn right on Southwest Barton Street. Park on the street near 40th Avenue Southwest; the trail kiosk is across the street.

For more information: 206-684-4075, 206-938-4203 or www.cityofseattle.net/parks/parkspaces/Fauntler.htm or www.fauntleroy.net/creek/aboutfauntleroycreek.htm.

Cathy McDonald is coauthor with Stephen Whitney of "Nature Walks In and Around Seattle," with photographs by James Hendrickson (The Mountaineers, second edition, 1997).

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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