Discovery Park is a 534 acre park located on shores of Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington. This is the largest public park in this city and contains nearly 12 miles of walking trails. A lighthouse can be seen from West Point, as well as the whole city of Seattle. On the southern side of North Beach strip, there is a sewerage treatment plant although it is totally concealed from marsh, beach and the trail. This park was built on the historic land of Fort Lawton, with most of Fort -Lawton Historic District falling within the park. Beaches, forests, prairies and some bluffs dominate this park.
Discovery Park is one among the most unique places in this city to view beautiful wildlife such as birds and other marine mammals. According to Seattle Audubon Society, there are about 270 species of birds in this park and nearby rivers. The Shilshole and Elliot Bays are a home to California sea lions and harbor seals. Most visitors love hiking around the Loop Trail.
The shoreline can be accessed via a road or trail. However, you need to get a permit before driving your car to the beach. The free permits can easily be obtained at the Environmental Learning Center located in the Eastern Parking Lot. The permits are specially designed for qualified individuals. South beach is on the windward side of Peninsula. Elliot Bay and North Beach are on the leeward side and offer excellent views of Shilshole. Between the northern and southern beaches, there is West Point and West Point Lighthouse. A coniferous forest is found on the northern bluff region and is easily accessed from a road that will lead to the beach.
Some Deciduous woods can be seen surrounding the 2 parking areas and the visitor center. A huge meadow with some small trees and other shrubs overlooks the south bluff. Red alder, western red cedar, bigleaf maple, Douglas fir, bitter cherry and western hemlocks make up a huge percentage of the entire tree cover in Discovery Park. Some invasive species like Scot’s broom, Holly and English ivy are all over the park.
Discovery Park is a relatively recent creation. It was opened in the early 1970’s. This land was surplus to U.S Army’s Fort Lawton. This site had previously been given to the Army by city authority in 1898. The fort was opened in 1900. The Army then decided to sell this back to city in the year 1938, but unfortunately the city refused due to maintenance concerns. Most of this land was given back to city in 1972, and later dedicated as the Discovery Park in 1973. Fort Lawton still continued as the Army Reserve facility up until the February 25th, 2012 when it officially closed.
Today, this park has a few issues such as a tendency to attract some wild animals. In May of 2009, a black bear was seen and on September of that same year, a cougar was spotted. The beach also has a history of some sporadic clothing-optional use in remote areas of the shoreline.