Hike an urban park near Bellevue through extensive old-growth forest (yes, really)! Marvel at the many large conifers and deciduous trees. View a small creek in a steep canyon. Listen for, and perhaps see, abundant bird life. And, in season, note a few wildflowers.
You can download a park trail map from the specified link. Note that some older maps refer to the park as "Weowna Beach Park," a complete misnomer since the park has no beach or lake front, and views out to Lake Sammamish are limited to occasional narrow openings through the foliage.
The entire park offers many large conifers, apparently genuine old-growth as there is no sign of the large stumps seen in other areas that have been logged, such as at Tiger Mountain. Large deciduous trees also are present in Weowna Park.
While this is not a wildflower hike, in spring you are likely to see a few blooms of salmonberry, thimbleberry, creeping raspberry, salal, avens, and a few others.
The park trails are well constructed and have been barked for a soft footing. In steeper sections the route follows carefully built wooden staircases.
As you leave the trailhead, the uphill begins immediately. You will gain about 230 feet in the first quarter mile to reach the highest point of the hike, where a short side trail heads west out of the park to SE 9th Street. The main trail leaves an old park road and continues on south, dropping gently for a while. In about a quarter mile, come to another park road heading east. The main trail leaves the road, continues across a couple of gullies, and comes to another side trail that leads out of the park to reach SE 16th Street. About 0.3 miles farther along on the main trail, come to a crossing of Phantom Creek on a rustic wooden foot bridge. The creek often is little more than a trickle, although the flow can be much greater after heavy rains.
Ironically, Phantom Creek is completely artificial. It began in the 1890s when a would-be farmer near Phantom Lake, 0.3 miles to the west, sought to increase his farm acreage by lowering the lake level. The lake formerly drained to the west, but some powerful digging, plus blasting with dynamite, created a new channel draining east toward Lake Sammamish. The resulting deluge, while temporary, must have been impressive. It washed great amounts of sediment into Lake Sammamish and caused considerable damage to a lakeside farm. (All this in an era before environmental impact statements were required.) Many years later, the highly-eroded creek channel was restored by the city to resemble a natural stream, as you see it today.
Just beyond the creek crossing, a short side trail leads out of the park to SE 19th Street. A few feet farther along, the main trail forks. For the best views of the creek and canyon, take the left fork. Near the upper end of the canyon two viewing platforms have been constructed to provide views of the creek, but the views often are limited by vegetation. Your best views of the creek may be found farther down the canyon, beyond the viewing platforms.
At the next trail junction, stay left again. Follow Phantom Creek all the way down to street level where the creek flows into a wide settling pond designed to catch sediment that otherwise would end up in Lake Sammamish. The trail continues on a few feet more to W. Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE and a tiny parking area easily overlooked from the street.
To continue your hike, head back upstream and, at the first signed trail junction, turn left onto the South Loop. In 0.3 miles, a short side trail heads out to 168th Ave SE. The South Loop trail continues on a quarter mile to reconnect with the main trail near the crossing of Phantom Creek, and from there you can return to your trailhead the way you came.