Unfortunately, this little wild park is located in an area that is completely surrounded by busy highways, and thus there are no places where it is completely clear of traffic noise. However, that doesn't seem to bother the bufflehead and other birds that winter on the water here, nor the red-tailed hawk and other birds that prey on them. There are gravel and dirt trails that meander through the wild lands, and boardwalks that cross the various waterways. Thankfully it is posible to get reasonably far away from the traffic noise and enjoy many areas of this wild area, but others are right next to very busy loud roads.
Parts of the nature park are off limits to visitors, as it is still an active farm.
Features in the park include a very small ampitheatre, a preserved homestead from the early 1900s, and a place to launch non-motorized boats.
How to Get Here:
One part of the "Nature Park" has been converted into a park and ride lot, and is accessed through a number of local bus routes and several regional bus routes. From Seattle bus route 550 (SoundTransit Bellevue connector) stops right by the parking lot. Interstate 90 to Bellevue Way, and parking lot is immediately on the east side of the road.
Located on land that is essentially part of the Mercer Slough Nature Park, the Winters House is the only publicly accessible building in Bellevue on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been extensively restored to serve as the visitor's center to Mercer Slough Nature Park, headquarters to the Bellevue Historical Society, and availability for rental for various events.
The house was the homestead house for the farm that once occupied the surrounding lands. Among other plants grown here, there was an extensive number of flowers for a number of different occasions in the region for several decades.
How to Get Here:
Located just north of the south Bellevue Park and Ride and the entrance to the Mercer Island Nature Park, the house has a small dedicated parking lot as well. From Seattle you can get here on SoundTransit bus route 550, or take Interstate 90 to Bellevue Way. The entrance will be on your right soon after the park and ride lot. The official address is 2102 Bellevue Way SE.
While it is located quite close to the Interstate 90 bridge over Lake Washington, the park is never without at least some traffic noise. However, the noise is somewhat less loud than it might be assumed based on the park location.
There are a few benches and some scattered picnic tables, one eccentric sculpture, a beach that allows swimming during the warm weather months, and a place to launch small water craft. There are also facilities for renting kayaks, which are open during certain months.
How to Get Here:
Interstate 90 to Bellevue Avenue, left onto 112th Avenue at Light. South to 34the Street SE, right onto 34th. Park essentially under freeway bridge at 34th and 108th, which is where 34th ends. Nearest bus routes are at park and ride lot at 112th & Bellevue, but trails available between there and Enatai Beach Park.
Located just two blocks west of Interstate 405, the new Bellevue City Hall is a huge edifice of a structure, and includes a street level plaza with several works of art in it, plus a glass meeting hall.
The works of art include a large metal reproduction of an overturned tree stump (perhaps indicating just how much the entire lumber industry has been overturned by the technology industry in the local economy?), and two statues that were gifts from sister city Hualien, Taiwan.
Somewhere on the city of Bellevue web site (below) they probably have some sort of description of this plaza, but I have not been able to find it.
While much of downtown Bellevue is today dominated by a lot of traffic noise, Downtown Park is one of the oasis from this tangle of engine noise.
The park features several different fountains, one of which is a loop of water that runs right next to a gravel circular broadway that is used as a jogging path by many residents. This pathway is 1/2 mile long, with benches and picnic tables along the route. A playground is in the far southwest corner. A grand staircase is in the north side of the park and serves as an entrance from the core of downtown.
The interior circle of the park has several large trees but the remainder of this space is a huge grass open space that could be used for a number of activities. This includes a few events throughout the year, if the various posters are any indication.
The water from the various waterfalls of the several fountains do a very good job of blocking out the traffic noise from the busy streets that surround the park.
There are plans in the future for completing the last southeast portion of the park, making the walkway a complete circle. However, today a small parking lot occupies this location.
Several works of art are scattered through the park, though except for the fountains these are in somewhat hidden locations along the various edges of the park.
Location: 10201 NE Fourth St., Bellevue. Bus routes #550 (SoundTransit) and # 234 (King County Metro) have stops very near the park, and a huge number of bus routes serve the transit center that is about 4 blocks away.
At first glance, the majority of this park, just down the street from the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, appears to be highly developed in nature: several playgrounds, and several sports fields. However, the park also contains a fair amount of woodlands with a few trails (including a short portion of the Lake to Lake Trail) passing through them.
If you happen to have visited the Botanical Garden, and want to get more of a walk offered by the trails in the garden, consider walking east on the Lake to Lake Trail into this park. Due to the number of sports fields it may not be a quiet day, but on the other hand if it is a school day and it is daylight hours chances are the kids are all in school. Under those conditions it is likely to be a quiet day over here, at least until school gets out.
The Lake to Lake Trail passes through the park by running along the edge of one of the sports fields, and then plunges into the forests. Smaller trails run through the park connecting to this trail, both in the forest and along the sports fields. The Lake to Lake trail is paved through this park, but many of the other trails are narrow dirt or gravel pathways.
This park may also serve as a good place to find overflow parking should you come to the Bellevue Botanical Garden and find it is a popular day and all the parking places are taken.
How to Get Here: Essentially the instructions are the same as you would use for the Bellevue Botanical Gardens except the park is located slightly east of the gardens. If you come by public transit, visit the gardens first and walk through the gardens on the Lake to Lake trail and trails within the gardens rather than the trail that is right next to the road.
Cougar Mountain Park has an extensive trail system. There are nice, wide trails that are used by both people and horses, and little, narrow trails for hiking only.
The main trailhead is just outside of Bellevue, actually in or near the town of Newcastle.
It's not really off the beaten path, in general, as this park is pretty popular, but it is off the beaten path of suburban Bellevue : )
I was driving along in Bellevue and found all these painted bucks around. I found out they are being auctioned off charity in October. Bizarre!