TRACKS promotes outdoor adventure, youth leadership and environmental stewardship, with a mission to encourage outdoor opportunities that develop life skills and knowledge for all ages, abilities and income levels. photos || video
Tracks Winter Hikes and Walks
Get outside and explore nature your way!
The chilly weather has arrived, but that doesn't mean you have to stay inside. TRACKS Winter Hikes and Walks are designed to help you find new spots to enjoy the beautiful natural areas in and around Bellevue, so bundle up and find a hike or walk that works for you! We've got two different ways to enjoy nature this winter - Tuesday Trails and Wednesday Walks. Check back weekly for new routes! The TRACKS Winter Recreation Guide 2021 offers helpful tips for exploring this winter.
- Tuesday Trails are hikes that range from 1.5 to 3 miles, are easy to moderate and will take you on different surfaces like gravel, packed dirt and mulch. This winter we are going to explore some King County trails, Regional Parks and State Parks that are in and around the Bellevue area. Please note that trails in this series are not maintained by the Bellevue Parks Department. Winter hiking can be a great way to stay active during the colder and rainy months; just make sure to pack a waterproof jacket and boots. Please be careful out there as wet weather can make trails, bridges and boardwalks slippery.
- Wednesday Walks are right here in the Bellevue Parks system. Explore easy, one mile or less, paved walks that are accessible to all. This series of walks is perfect for strollers, scooters, bikes and wheels of all kinds and are perfect if you're looking to explore a new walking path with the whole family.
Tuesday Trails Winter Hike - Harvey Manning Trail to Tibbetts Marsh Trail
Harvey Manning Trail to Tibbetts Marsh Trail
Parking lot: Harvey Manning trailhead parking lot is located at the end of SE Cougar Mountain Drive.
Trail condition: Moderate - mud and uneven trail, narrow bridges.
This week we are starting our hike near the top of Cougar Mountain at the Harvey Manning trailhead. To get to this trailhead, follow SE Cougar Mountain Drive all the way up until it ends in the parking lot. There are many trails accessible from this trailhead, and this week we are going to explore the area around Tibbetts Marsh. From the parking area, head down past the kiosk to the first trail sign, and follow it right toward Tibbetts Marsh Trail.
As you wind through the trees, you’ll slightly descend. After about a quarter of a mile you’ll reach the intersection of the Tibbetts Marsh Trail and the Harvey Manning Trail. Follow the Tibbetts Marsh Trail, and you’ll finish your loop coming back on the Harvey Manning Trail.
Due to the wet winter weather, watch your step as the trail is quite muddy in places. Next you will see the intersection with the Protector Trail; again, stay to the right and continue on toward Cougar Pass. You’ll cross over Tibbetts Creek on a narrow bridge, so watch your step. Your loop will continue on Cougar Pass Trail for a short while before linking up with Harvey Manning Trail. As you head back up to complete your loop, notice how the moss keeps the forest looking lush even in the dead of winter.
Tuesday Trails Winter Hike - Evans Creek Preserve
Evans Creek Preserve
4001 224th Ave NE
Trail surface: Packed dirt, boardwalks and crushed gravel
This week we head out to Evans Creek Preserve in Sammamish. It’s just a short drive from Bellevue, and the tranquil trails are worth it. Note that some of the trails in this area are closed, so please mind the signs and areas marked as closed. This area is well marked with numerical trail markers which make navigation easy. Check out the map below.
From the parking area, check out the kiosk. Note the warning about slippery boardwalks, and make sure to watch your step. The trail starts with a switch-back that leads to an open road with a bridge at the end.
Just after the bridge, you will see the first trail marker.
Continue on past the bathrooms, and take a left at Trail Marker 15. Head over the boardwalk and admire the meadow view.
Next you’ll come to an intersection with Trail Marker 12. Note that the trail is closed to the south, so take a right and head toward Trail Marker 14.
Continue on to Trail Marker 3 and the planked viewpoint. This hike offers lovely meadow views throughout. After you’ve taken in the scenery, keep going toward Trail Marker 4 and then 5.
Continue straight toward Trail Marker 8, and you will once again notice signs for the closed section of trail. Head back toward Trail Marker 4, then 3, and make your way back to 2. At this point you will recognize the open picnic area and can stop for a rest or continue on back to the parking area.
Tuesday Trails Winter Hike - Marymoor Park Loop
Marymoor Park Loop
6046 West Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE
Redmond, WA 98052
- Distance: 1.5 miles
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trail surface: Paved, packed dirt, boardwalks, mud
This week we head just outside Bellevue to Marymoor Park. Marymoor Park is maintained by King County Parks and has miles of paved sidewalks, play fields, playgrounds, rock climbing and even a velodrome for bike racing. This week's hike is for dog lovers and dog owners, as part of the trail runs along the off-leash dog area at Marymoor. If dogs are not really your thing, there are plenty of paved loops that run through the park and around the ball fields. Note that Marymoor does charge a $1.00 parking fee, and kiosks are available in each parking area. Also, King County is asking those to using the park to Recreate Responsibly by wearing masks, social distancing and taking trash with you.
For this week's hike, park in the first parking lot for Willowmoor Farm.
Start your hike by heading toward the Clise Mansion. Take a lap around the grounds of the mansion, and you'll see the lovely green lawn and old brick mansion. As you head toward the river, you'll see a wooden windmill.
Continue away from the mansion toward the concert venue, and you'll come to a large parking lot. Directly in front of the parking lot is the off-leash dog area. To avoid most of the dogs, stay to the right and the trail along the river. You'll spot a sign for the Audubon Bird Loop.
Continue along the banks of the river, and notice how high the water can get in the winter months. This area is open to off-leash dogs.
As you reach the end of the off-leash dog area, there is a boardwalk that will lead you through the wetlands on the River Trail. Continue around the Heron Trail Loop. Keep an eye out for the many species of birds that frequent this area. At the end of this loop, you can head back the way you came, or follow the edge of the sports fields back to the community garden and through the parking lot once again.
Tuesday Trails Winter Hike - Wildside to Redtown
Wildside to Red Town Trail
Distance: 1.5 miles
Parking: Red Town Trail Head (Lakemont Boulevard SE- just south of Forest Drive SE)
The Cougar Mountain Trail system offers miles and miles of interconnected trails. Make sure to grab a map at the trail head or download one ahead of time from the King County Parks website.
This hike will explore the Wildside to Red Town Trail loop. This look takes you through the Meadow Restoration Project and though some lovely forest.
Start this route on the trail that leads past the picnic tables toward the Wildside Trail. After a few hundred feet you will see a bridge to the right - turn right and cross the bridge.
Next you will come to an intersection with the Rainbow Trail and the Ford Slope Mining exhibit Stop and take a look at the area’s mining history and then head off toward the Wildside Trail.
Follow this trail along the creek and through some twists and turns. You'll see turn-offs for Marshall's Hill Trail as well as another Wildside Connector. Stay straight and you'll come into the Meadow Restoration Project.
After making it through the meadow, stay on the wide gravel trail and follow signs for the Red Town Trail and Red Town Trailhead. Note this is a great trail for dogs, but please make sure to follow all leash and scoop laws.
Tuesday Trails Winter Hike - Coal Creek Falls
Sky Country to Coal Creek Falls
Parking: Parking for the Sky Country Trailhead is at the end of 166th Way SE, about a half mile from the intersection with SE Cougar Mountain Way.
Distance: 3 miles.
Trail surface: Crushed gravel, packed dirt, mud.
This week's hike takes you back to Cougar Mountain but starts at the Sky Country Trailhead. This trailhead offers a paved parking lot with more spots than the Red Town Trailhead, so it is a good alternative if the parking at Red Town is full.
This week's hike will take you to Coal Creek Falls. Winter is a wonderful time to view the falls because the water level is higher during the winter due to the rain runoff. Try this hike again in the summer, and the falls may only be a trickle.
Start your hike at the Sky Country Trail kiosk. Head down the trail and follow trail signs; you'll see remnants of the airfield that used to be here.
Follow the 'Old Man Trail' until you see a split fence. Take a right at the split fence and continue on the Cave Hole Trail. The Cave Hole Trail is a wider open trail that heads downhill for a little over half a mile.
As you reach the bottom of the trail, you will come to a fork with a sign leading you towards Coal Creek Falls. The trail narrows and winds through the forest for about another half mile. As you walk, you will begin to hear the creek below you. The falls will come into view ahead. Take a minute to admire them on the bridge over the creek.
If you are looking for a bit of a shorter hike, you can turn around at the falls and head back the way you came. If you'd like the full three miles, keep going across the bridge and back up away from the creek. As you wind your way up the hillside, the incline will become a little steeper. At the intersection with the Quarry Trail, take a left toward Fred's Railroad Trail.
This part of the trail is a bit of a climb until you reach the next intersection with Fred's Railroad Trail. Take a left again and head towards Clay Pot Road.
Once you are on Fred's Railroad Trail, the incline is behind you. Enjoy this walk through the forest as you head back toward the trailhead. After a half mile you will see a Bypass Trail that will take you back to the Cave Hole Trail. Take a left on the Bypass. Once you hit the Cave Hole Trail, take a right. This will take you back towards the split fence and the Old Man Trail you started on and back to the parking lot.
Tuesday Trails Winter Hike - Coyote Creek to Klondike Swamp Trail Loop
Coyote Creek - Klondike Swamp Trail Loop
Distance: 2 miles
Parking: Skycountry Trail Head located at the end of 166th Way SE
Difficulty: Easy, paved and packed dirt/mud
Coyote Creek Trail to Klondike Swamp Map
This week's hike starts again at Skycountry Trail Head, but heads out in a different direction to explore more of the trails in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park. For this week's hike you will start on Clay Pit Road. Access from the parking lot to Clay Pit Road is around over a bridge/boardwalk on the west side of the parking lot, near the exit.
After you cross the small bridge, take a right and head up the paved road. This road is closed to traffic, but watch out of the occasional trail work crew truck. Continue to follow this road for a little over a quarter mile. Look for a trail sign off on the left-hand side for Coyote Creek Trail.
Once you are on Coyote Creek Trail, continue through the trees. This trail can get muddy after heavy rains, so watch your footing as you go. The trail stays fairly flat, and there are no major uphill paths as you wonder through the wetlands.
After about three quarters of a mile, you will come to a fork in the trail. Turn right toward the Klondike Swamp Trail. There is a slight downhill here as you transition to the other side to the wetlands.
The Klondike Swamp trail takes you back along the other side of the wetlands, Keep your eyes out for a moss-covered tree canopy. Note there are a few other trails that intersect with the Klondike Swamp trail as you go, but keep straight.
After just over a half mile you will once again connect with Clay Pit Road. Take a right on the road and follow back toward the parking lot, you will once again pass the turn off for Coyote Creek Trail as you retrace your steps to finish this hike.
Winter Wednesday Walks - Surrey Downs Park
11177 SE 4th Street
Surrey Downs Park is one of Bellevue’s most recently-redeveloped parks. It has picnic shelters, playground, basketball court, paved and gravel trails and lots of open space!
Start your walk just opposite the bathrooms, and head north around the picnic shelter. There is a large paved loop that will lead you around the exterior of the park and then back toward the playground.
Once you pass the playground, explore the grassy knolls and loop around the south end of the park.
As you come around the east side of the park, make sure to check out the overview toward 112th Avenue NE. From here you can see the progress on the light rail work.
When you are done exploring this lovely new park, head back toward the parking lot.
Winter Wednesday Walks - Ivanhoe Park to Ivanhoe Sportsfields Loop
Ivanhoe Park- Ivanhoe Sports Fields Loop
16600 Northup Way
This week we are headed to North Bellevue to check out Ivanhoe Park. This park has basketball courts, playgrounds, green space and trails.
Take your time wandering around the wooded trails. There are a few great spots to stop for a picnic or enjoy a coffee.
After exploring these trails, venture to Northup Way. Take a left and head down to the crosswalk. On the opposite side of Northup Way is Ivanhoe Sports Fields. Walk through the parking lot and around the theater building. Here you will find more paved trails as well as a playground and plenty of open green space. This area is perfect for walking the dog, throwing a frisbee or kicking the soccer ball around.
After a loop around the fields, head back toward Northup Way. Cross at the crosswalk and go back to Ivanhoe Park.
Winter Wednesday Walks - Goldsmith Neighborhood Park
Goldsmith Neighborhood Park
14475 NE 35th Street
This week we are headed up to North Bellevue and Goldsmith Neighborhood Park. This park has a playground and basketball court and dedicated street parking.
This park has an inner loop that is completely paved and will take you around the perimeter of the park.
The large wooded area beyond the playground is a lovely example of a forest right within the city. There is an outer loop that will take you through the trees, but be aware the outer loop is a mulch surface. If you'd like to stay on the smooth pavement, stick to the inner loop and enjoy this peaceful neighborhood park.
Winter Wednesday Walks - Lewis Creek Park Ballfield Loop
Lewis Creek Park Ballfield Loop
5808 Lakemont Blvd
Lewis Creek Park has fully-paved walking trails in addition to the gravel and compact dirt trails. This paved loop can be the perfect spot for kids and toddlers to try biking and scootering for the first time. There is plenty of grass, a playground and basketball court. The paved loop starts opposite the visitor center and goes around the ball fields.
After you pass the grassy fields, you'll head down past the playground and the back side of the visitor center.
The path continues up a gentle hill towards the parking lot. If you are looking to go a little bit longer, you can join the sidewalk along Lakemont Blvd. It connects Lewis Creek Park and Lewis Creek Picnic Area. This covered picnic area is the perfect place for a lunch or water break out of the rain.
Winter Wednesday Walks - Spiritridge Park Loop
16100 SE 33rd Place
Bellevue, WA 98008
This week's Wednesday Walk is in Southeast Bellevue at Spiritridge Park. This lovely and quiet park offers a big green lawn, playground, tennis and basketball courts. There is dedicated parallel parking off of SE 33rd Place.
The tree-lined path around this park follows 161st Avenue SE. Once you reach the north end of the park, the path circles around toward the wooded area of the park.
Follow the tree-lined trail back towards the playground.
Take a quick break to check out the playground equipment before continuing on to loop around the tennis and basketball courts.
Winter Wednesday Walks - Robinswood Park Loop
2432 148th Ave SE
Bellevue, WA 98007
Robinswood is a great park for a stroll! There is plenty to keep everyone in the family entertained - ballfields, a playground, grass lawns, pond, trails and an off-leash dog area. There is parking at two different lots, either right off 148th Avenue SE or opposite the Big Picture School off SE 22 Street. Start your walk on the loop around the soccer fields. This loop is one-third of a mile so you can easily do a few laps.
When you reach the south end of the soccer fields, wander past the playground and check out the barn, Robinswood House and Hans Miller Cabin.
Make sure to check out the pond and picnic area.
Robinswood also has an off-leash dog area, so this is a great walk to bring your furry friends!
Tuesday Trails - Fall 2020
This easy hiking series is designed for active seniors looking to explore the beautiful trails around Bellevue. Hikes will be about two miles and specifically chosen for the over-50 crowd.
Wednesday Walks - Fall 2020
Bellevue has over 90 miles of trails throughout our parks system. Many trails are paved and accessible to all! This series of walks is perfect for strollers, scooters, bikes and wheels of all kinds. Each 1 to 1.5 mile walk explores different parks on paved, accessible trails - perfect if you're looking to explore a new walking trail with the whole family.
What is TRACKS?
TRACKS was started in the spring of 2007 amid growing concern and research identifying a "nature deficit" in society. Since its inception, TRACKS has effectively infused many Bellevue programs and activities with its six key standards:
- Teaching: teaches skills people can recreate on their own (Urban Cycling Techniques).
- Recreation: provides a healthy option to enhance fitness (Family and Friends Snowshoe Adventure).
- Adventure: offers opportunities for active, experiential learning (Teens Outside High Adventure Camps).
- Competency: helps build skill mastery (Skaters in the Woods).
- Knowledge: promotes understanding of the natural environment (Eastside Explorers Speaker Series).
- Stewardship encourages and creates opportunities for stewardship and volunteer service (Stewardship Saturdays, Teens Outside).
Volunteer with TRACKS
To volunteer with the TRACKS program, or if you are a teen looking for service hours, please email TRACKS@bellevuewa.gov.
Look for TRACKS in the Connections recreation brochure to find classes, activities and events that are part of the TRACKS initiative.
View Ken Burns' "National Parks: America’s Greatest Idea" clip about youth and the outdoors.