Magnolia Bluff Off The Beaten Path

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Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Magnolia Bluff

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    Open Space at the Water Tower offers Some Views

    by glabah Written Jan 26, 2014
    Water Tower and Open Space near 38th & Dravus
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    At the very top of the hill on which Magnolia sits you will find a water tower - which really isn't too surprising. The area around this water tower is a relatively undeveloped open space with a few small trees. For now (until the trees get a bit bigger) there is somewhat of a view of the surrounding area provided by this high spot.

    Sadly, the view of Mount Rainier, which could be pretty good from here, is blocked quite a bit by power and telephone lines. (see photo 4)

    The water tower and its associated open space is located between West 38 & 39th Avenues, and between Dravus and Prosper. It is not an official city park, and may be developed at any time (most likely added water capacity).

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    Discovery Park: Fort Lawton Cemetery

    by glabah Updated Nov 5, 2013

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    Fort Lawton Military Cemetery in Discovery Park
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    This tip is part of a larger set of tips about Discovery Park, and therefore see my overview tip about Discovery Park that is in my Seattle page.

    Before Discovery Park existed, this area was a military reserve. Today, there are a few small sections that remain part of the military but much of what became the park was regarded as no longer necessary for military use. Thus, the conversion to city park land.

    One of the areas that is still essentially a military area is the old Fort Lawton cemetery. This location is mostly dedicated to US military graves. However, there is also one German prisoner of war here that passed away while here. There also appears to be one Italian grave.

    As seen in the main photo, the graves of those who died with military honors are in a uniform size, and are in a uniform formation. As seen in photo 5, those that died while retired or otherwise not in uniform are different that the standard military headstones.

    How to Get Here: If driving, enter the main park entrance at Government & Texas. continue on main road slightly up the hill from the main visitor's center. The gate for the entrance to the cemetery (see photo 2) is slightly uphill on the right.

    If taking the bus, take bus route #33. Get off as close as possible to Government & Texas, and walk up the hill on the sidewalk on the south side of Government way. You will see the entrance to the cemetery slightly up the hill from the visitor's center.

    From the loop trail, continue up the hill from the parking area at the visitor's center. The first major trail junction that you come to will be a four way intersection. If you turn right at this intersection you will come out on the main paved road. From here, walk about 10 feet north and up the hill, and there is a place in the sidewalk to cross the road and get into the cemetery. If you enter the tunnel under the road on the loop trail, you have gone too far.

    This tip is part of a larger set of tips about Discovery Park in Seattle's Magnolia area. See my Basics of Discovery Park tip in the Seattle travel page.

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    Discovery Park: Pond Trails

    by glabah Updated Nov 5, 2013

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    Pond Trails and Picnic Table Hidden in Forest
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    Crammed between the Daybreak Star center and the Wolf Tree Loop Trail, there is a small loop of trails that wander downhill from the Daybreak Star center. These trails circle a pair of ponds which, in the summer months anyway, accumulate a significant number of mosquitos.

    However, outside of mosquito season it is a relatively quiet place compared to some of the busier sections of the park. There isn't a wonderful view of much from here, but it is at least forest land.

    Sadly, this part of the park looks a little on the neglected side by its visitors, as there seems to be a bit of trash accumulation around the picnic tables. I'm guessing these are neighborhood youths that come here to escape parental rule as most park visitors seem quite willing to clean up after themselves.

    How to Get Here: From Daybreak Star it is only a matter of going down the hill on a very plain looking maintenance road (see photo 2) which serves as the primary entrance to this small trail loop.

    This tip is part of a larger set of tips about Discovery Park in Seattle's Magnolia area. See my Basics of Discovery Park tip in the Seattle travel page.

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    Discovery Park: Daybreak Star Cultural Center

    by glabah Updated Nov 5, 2013

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    Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center
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    In 1970 Fort Lawton was largely determined to be surplus to the needs of the US military. At that time, services to First Nations people living in in the urban areas were extremely limited. Seattle was particularly impacted by this as it had one of the largest urban First Nations populations in the 48 contiguous states.

    So, a vocal group of protesters led an "invasion" of Fort Lawton and occupied it. There is a clause in a treaty signed in 1865 that declares surplus military reservation land should revert back to ownership by First Nations tribes.

    Though it took some time, the protest was eventually successful in getting at least a small part of what became Discovery Park dedicated to a center for First Nations culture.

    The building isn't much of a tourist destination in and of itself, as for the most part it is dedicated to providing services (including head start and other educational programs) for the First Nations people. However, there are some aspects of it that could be of interest to some visitors, such as the art gallery that is open on an occasional basis, the native plant garden (see my Bernie White Bear Garden tip), and a viewpoint to the northwest (see photo 3). The Pond Trails and Wolf Tree Nature Trail are also close.

    There are a few artworks in various locations indoors, but it is best not to photograph them due to the First Nations people regarding photographs as something that should not be done to works of art and culture.

    As seen in photos 1 and 2, the facility has a few works of art built right into the building.

    As the services in the building are essentially tribal services the facilities inside the building are only open during weekdays. However, special events do happen here and thus the hours are not strictly those of a general office structure. Outdoor areas are open whenever Discovery Park is open.

    This tip is part of a larger set of tips about Discovery Park in Seattle's Magnolia area. See my Basics of Discovery Park tip in the Seattle travel page.

    How to Get Here: bus route #33 ends in the parking lot closest to the structure, and from there it is a short walk down a wide paved pathway. 15th Avenue to Dravus to 20th to Gilman to Government Way is probably the best way to get here by driving, though it is also possible to take Garfield / the Magnolia Bridge to Thorndyke Avenue and go north from there to 20th.

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    Discovery Park: Wolf Tree Nature Trail

    by glabah Updated Nov 5, 2013

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    Entrance to Wolf Tree Loop Trail
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    Located just north, and down the hill from, the North Parking Lot (the largest parking lot close to the Daybreak Star Center) the Wolf Tree Nature Trail makes a very short loop through the forest in the area near Daybreak Star. It is a self-service nature trail, with brochures and numbered educational posts around the loop. Sadly, many people take the brochures but do not replace them so frequently there are none.

    Most of the forest here is second growth, but it is maintained as mature second growth.

    A branch trail connects the loop to the Pond Trails.

    The trail is not very long at all, but it should not be regarded as handicapped accessible.

    The trail is much like many other such educational forest trails in many other parks in the region, so it isn't extremely unique. However, it is a nice walk through the forest.

    How to Get Here: The connection between the Wolf Tree Loop and the Pond Trails is not easy to find from the Pond Trail end of things. It is very easy to find from the North Parking area, which is right at the end of bus route #33. The trail runs north from the northwest end of this parking lot.

    From the Loop Trail, it is possible to take a branch trail north to the North Parking Lot and Daybreak Star, go through the parking area diagonally, and then get to the Wolf Tree Loop Trail.

    This tip is part of a larger set of tips about Discovery Park in Seattle's Magnolia area. See my Basics of Discovery Park tip in the Seattle travel page.

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    Discovery Park: Pond View at North Beach Trail

    by glabah Updated Nov 5, 2013

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    North Beach Pond and View Bench
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    There is a paved trail that runs along the north beach area of Discovery Park (see my North Beach Trail tip) and for the most part this provides views of Puget Sound and the surrounding area. The beach itself is fairly small through here.

    One feature of this trail that may go undetected is a small bench and viewpoint of a small pond that is hidden in the underbrush beside the trail. These ponds are cooling ponds for the nearby water treatment plant. However, the ponds and the surrounding brush are also very popular with a number of birds. In the right season you will find cedar waxwings picking over the fruit of a few of the bushes. Even something the size of a great blue heron isn't unusual to see as they hunt for various edible water life in the pond.

    There is always a chance that there won't be anything here at all, especially on busy days as the number of park visitors may chase the birds away.

    The pond is located about 600 feet (about 200 meters) east of the West Point Light. The pond is visible on Google Maps Satellite View, even though it isn't very large. It is located on the north side of the North Beach Trail. As seen in photo 2, the branch trail that goes to the bench is fairly easy to find as it is reasonably obvious. Currently, the North Beach Trail changes from Paved to Gravel as it goes eastward right at this pond bench trail, and this transition in the trail is also visible in photo 2.

    This tip is part of a larger set of tips about Discovery Park in Seattle's Magnolia area. See my Basics of Discovery Park tip in the Seattle travel page.

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    Discovery Park: Bernie White Bear Garden

    by glabah Updated Nov 5, 2013

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    Sign marks Bernie White Bear Gardens
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    Created in 2011, this little garden by the Daybreak Star center (see my Daybreak Star tip) is named for the man who started a protest movement that helped get the Daybreak Star center started.

    The garden is a small preserve of plant life that is particularly set aside to display and cultivate those plants that are of importance to the local First Nations. The salmon are well known to be of huge importance, but salmon were only part of the diet here. A huge number of plants were also of vital importance but their importance to First Nations peoples are much less discussed.

    This garden aims to rectify this situation by showing what these plants are and giving a little bit of information about how they are used.

    As seen in photos 4 and 5, the plants are marked, and have their names here: the First Nations name, the common English name, and the Latin scientific name.

    How to Get Here Follow the directions for the Daybreak Star Center. It is well marked with signs, and near the end of bus route #33. The gardens are outside the building, on the north side of the structure.

    This tip is part of a larger set of tips about Discovery Park in Seattle's Magnolia area. See my Basics of Discovery Park tip in the Seattle travel page.

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    Elliott Bay Marina: Short Trail on Waterfront

    by glabah Updated Nov 5, 2013

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    Elliott Bay Marina public pathway along water
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    While Elliott Bay Park is the noted public park along Elliott Bay for people to visit, Elliott Bay Marina may also be visited by the general public, at least for right now:

    "PRIVATE PROPERTY" say the signs in nice, large letters, but if you just drive by in your car you will miss the little letters underneath that say "public pathway access 9:00AM to DUSK". It does not tell you what time "dusk" is. It also says "PEDESTRIANS ONLY no bike riding and no roller blading" but the path along the water is fairly short, so this area really shouldn't be a popular attraction to those wanting to do those activities anyway.

    As there is no through auto traffic, this is a fairly quiet place to come, and it does have some wonderful views of the bay and the sound - depending of course on the weather you have when you visit. There is a paved pathway along the edge of the water, leading from Elliott Bay Park to the west edge of the Marina property - where the trail comes to a stop at a bench overlooking the bay. Total pathway length is approximately 2000 feet (about 600 meters).

    While it is not possible for the general public to go out onto the piers and get an up close look at the hundreds of boats that call this marina home, it is possible to see a great many of them from the public trail.

    Smith Cove Park is right along the water at this location as well, so don't miss that park if you have an interest in walking along the edge of the water. It isn't a vastly improved view from what you have at the Marina but it is a little different perspective on things. See my Smith Cove Park tip.

    This marina also has two restaurants. One is called Maggie's Bluff and the other is called Pallisades. Both probably have better views than any other restaurant in Magnolia, and yet they are also probably Magnolia's best kept secret. Palisades is the expensive looking restaurant upstairs that has a door man. Maggie's Bluff is on the hidden basement level that overlooks the marina and seems to have prices aimed at the rest of us. (See my Maggie's Bluff tip)

    Driving Directions: Elliott Avenue West to Magnolia Bridge, and follow signs to Elliott Bay Marina. Exit onto ramp halfway across Magnolia Bridge - it is only possible to get to this ramp if you are going west on the Magnolia bridge! At the end of this ramp, turn left (the only direction you are allowed to go if you aren't a bicycle or pedestrian or port of Seattle employee) and drive towards the water. At the edge of the water, turn right and follow the road a short distance to the Entry to the Marina.

    By Bicycle or Walking from Magnolia proper: From Thorndyke Avenye West, go south onto 20th or 21st Avenue, into the industrial area. At the end of either street, you will come to a bike path that curves around the edge of the Port of Seattle industrial land, and ends under the Magnolia bridge at the Marina. Turn right onto this path at the end of either street.

    Address: 2601 West Marina Place, Seattle, WA 98199-4331

    The web site below is for the Marina, and you must go through the "on site businesses" section to find out about the restaurants. There isn't much there about the short bit of public walking pathway.

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    Magnolia Gateway (sculpture)

    by glabah Updated Oct 13, 2013

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    Magnolia Gateway at 33rd & Smith
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    This large sculpture is very modern, and yet also an attractive part of the southern entrance to Magnolia Playfield / Playground. It is located very close to the intersection of 33rd Ave West and W Smith Street. This 2004 sculpture depicts Madrona seed pods, flowers and berries.

    The Pacific Madrone (or Madrona) is fairly common along Puget Sound, and there are several large examples in the Magnolia area. Unfortunately, there are no impressive examples of this tree anywhere near this sculpture. Some of the nearest most impressive examples are at the Magnolia Blvd Viewpoint but there are also some good examples in Magnolia Park. Look for a large tree that is loosing its bark and has a red layer of skin under the bark that is falling off.

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    Origins Poles - "Story Pole" - Public Artwork

    by glabah Written Oct 4, 2013

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    Origins Pole near Fishermans Terminal
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    Three of these poles are scattered about the Magnolia area, and all make mention of "origins" of some sort or another. There are engraved images on them, as well as a map to find the other two.

    All three serve as bus stop poles.

    One of these is located very close to the entrance at Discovery Park. This is at the south side of Government way, just east of 36th Avenue West.

    Another is located not too far away from here. It is located close to Fisherman's Terminal. It is on the north side of Emerson and just west of the intersection with 21st.

    The third one is at the far southern end of Magnolia, in the area that is known as "Magnolia Village" by locals, or just "The Village" to those who live in Magnolia proper. This one is on the east side of 35th, just south of McGraw. This one does not support a bus stop sign any more, as the shelter has been moved slightly south of the origins pole.

    Each of these poles has somewhat different artwork on them, and seeks answers to different questions.

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    Magnolia Blvd. Viewpoints

    by glabah Written Dec 21, 2012

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    Bench at Magnolia Blvd Viewpoints + WA state ferry
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    While there is no official name for this wide swath of roadway on the far southwest side of Magnolia, it does have its own dedicated parking area, and even a City of Seattle Parks sign that indicates it as a publicly owned set of viewpoints.

    The view from here runs far to the west and south, including (on clear days) parts of the Olympic Mountains.

    There are benches and open grass on the slope, and the parking area at Magnolia Blvd and Montavista.

    This is a popular place for local residents to jog and walk, but few people from out of town seem to have discovered this location.

    The only disadvantage to it is that it is a fairly busy road during many times of day.

    How to Get Here:

    The nearest bus routes are #19 and #24, located at what is essentially Eastmont Way and Viewmont, except that Eastmont at this point is just an unmarked sidewalk going between houses on its way down the hill. Take the sidewalk down the hill from the bus stop and it will intersect Magnolia Blvd. at the main parking area for the viewpoints.

    If driving, from the Magnolia Village area, head south and west on a maze of local roads. McGraw to Montevista to Magnolia Blvd or south on 34th to Howe to Magnolia Blvd. is probably the least confusing of the various methods to get here.

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    Smith Cove Park - Hidden Viewpoint near Bridge

    by glabah Updated Aug 21, 2012

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    Smith Cove Park with wintering fishing ship
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    Depending on the time of year and the weather, this park could have a great view of Elliott Bay and parts of Puget Sound, or it could have a really awful view.

    As you can see from my photos, my ifrst visit happened to visit on a day when the view wasn't so great.

    Despite the hours listed on the web site, the posted park hours are 6 AM to 9 PM in summer, and 6 AM to 7 PM in winter. It does not list the months that are considered "summer" or "winter" months.

    There are several benches and picnic tables with a few trees, and small patches of open grass. Directly across Elliott Bay is West Seattle and the Alki Peninsula.

    In the area surrounding the park, it is possible to get very close to the large cruise ships and other ships that call at the Port of Seattle's Interbay facility. in the winter, this is where the Pacific fishing fleet spends the winter.

    You may or may not get a view towards downtown Seattle, depending on what ships are sitting in the port facility. If there are lots of large ships, you view may be blocked. The same also goes for the potential view of Mount Rainier: it is possible to see it from here, if there is nothing large in the way.

    There is a full sized athletic field here with a portable toilet next to the entry gate, but the athletic field is not that interesting to travelers - unless you need a portable toilet.

    For a view of the park in better weather, please see my Photo of the Park from August 15, 2010, which is Photo 3 of my Seattle and Magnolia, August of 2010 Travelogue.

    Address: 1451 23rd Ave W

    How to Get There: Elliott Avenue to Magnolia Bridge. Exit bridge halfway across on ramp labeled for the Marina. At end of ramp, turn south (your only choice) and follow Marina Place south. When Marina Avenue turns towards the Marina, find a place to park beside the street. Smith Cove Park runs along the north side of Elliott Bay eastward from this sharp corner in Marina Place.

    By Walking or Bike: It is possible to access this park from the Terminal 91 Bike Path. From Thorndyke Avenue West, go south on 20th or 21st Avenue West through an industrial area. Both roads end at the bike path. Turn west (right) at the end of the road and follow the bike path to its end at Marina Place, and continue follwing Marina Place. When the road makes a sharp right curve and runs along the bay, turn left into the park.

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    Airplanes on the Move - Through Magnolia

    by glabah Updated Feb 2, 2012

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    High Horsepower meets High Speed in Magnolia
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    There is no way to guarantee that these will be here when you stop by, but it might be worth checking on if you happen to be in the area:

    Part of the Boeing assembly line has airplane bodies assembled in other states, and then sent by train to the Seattle area for final assembly. The long distance freight train terminates at the Interbay Yard, which is on the eastern boundary of Magnolia. The planes then wait in the freight yard for a local train to deliver them to the final assembly plant.

    The normal location for these airplanes, if they are sitting in the yard, is one or two tracks east of 20th Avenue, just south of 20th Avenue West and Thorndyke Avenue West.

    Google Maps Street View also has a great view of these airplanes, captured when their street view photographer visited the area.

    IF You Visit: Please don't do anything stupid. There is a lot of train traffic in this yard, and there are always crew around because this is one of the locations where BNSF crew end and begin their days. Thus, there are always railroad people around even if you don't notice right away that they are around. You can take photos and visit the airplane bodies and locomotives pretty well from the public street as it is very close to the two or three tracks in question. Therefore, there is no need to get arrested for trespassing on railroad land or get hauled in for questioning by the security people that are always watching over the Boeing airplane parts that are being moved.

    As stated at the top of this tip, there is no way to guarantee that there will be airplane parts here when you visit. Sometimes they are here and sometimes they are not. My impression is that this shipment happens two or three times per week. Sometimes they will be sitting here and sometimes they won't be.

    How to Get Here: Elliott Avenue to 15th Avenue West to W. Dravus Street, Left on 20th and continue straight south rather than diagonally on Thorndyke. Bus routes 33 (from downtown Seattle), 31 (from University of Washington) are nearby on 22nd Avenue, and 15th Avenue has bus routes 15 and 18 from downtown Seattle. The Elliott Bay Bike Path from downtown Seattle to Magnolia also uses this part of 20th Avenue.

    For Additional Photos see my Cockpit Meets Cab travelogue. Also, one photo on my Scenery from the Train travelogue shows the plane bodies waiting to be delivered just south of Seattle.

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    Ursula Judkins Viewpoint

    by glabah Updated Apr 21, 2010

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    view of Elliott Bay from Ursula Judkins Viewpoint
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    Opened to the public only a few months ago, this viewpoint is now yet another location that has good views of downtown Seattle and Puget Sound.

    However, in all honesty, the view is a little obstructed, and you may want to walk over to the Magnolia Bridge to take a look at the view from there as well.

    The viewpoint sits on the south edge of the hill on which Magnolia sits. There is a lot of open grass, and it would make a nice picnic location. The nearby road is fairly busy, but is it possible to get fairly far away from the road.

    There is currently no connection between this park and anything other than Garfield Street.

    I visited the site of this park several times in 2009. At that time, the area was surrounded by chain link fence, and there was little evidence that a park was to exist here. By April of 2010, a new sign existed outside the park entrance, and much of the chain link fence had been replaced by a small wooden fence that looked a bit more park-like. Photo 5 shows the state of the park in August of 2009.

    How to Get Here: Elliott Avenue to West Garfield Street. Cross the Magnolia Bridge over teh railroad yard and port facilities. The park is located at the west end of the bridge, just after a turn to the left. Go past the entrance to the park and turn around, as turning left into the park off of Garfield is not safe: there is a blind right curve that prevents you from seeing oncoming traffic.

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    Magnolia Park - A View of Puget Sound

    by glabah Updated Sep 10, 2009

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    view of Puget Sound from Magnolia Park viewpoint
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    Truly an "off the beaten path" place when it comes to tourists, Magnolia Park is a fairly typical city park: fairly large shade trees, a few picnic tables with barbecue pits, one covered picnic area, a few pieces of playground equipment, and well maintained grass.

    It isn't that great a place to play sports of most type (improvised disc golf might be an exception, but there isn't a set up course here for that), as the entire park slopes very steeply to Puget Sound. There are tennis courts, but those are across Magnolia Way from the park's parking lot on a fairly level piece of ground.

    Therein also exists the reason why I bother mentioning this park here: even during the summer months, when there are lots of leaves on the trees, you will find that the lowest two benches in the park have a fairly nice view out to Puget Sound. This view would be even better in the winter time, when fewer leaves on the trees would block the view.

    The view isn't as spectacular as it is from nearby Ella Bailey Park, but it is a view at least, and the park is a fairly quiet and enjoyable place once you get away from the rather busy Magnolia Boulevard.

    The main entrance to the park is at Magnolia Boulevard West and approximately West Hayes Street, though there really isn't a good intersection here to identify the location.

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Magnolia Bluff Off The Beaten Path

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