If your kids love to explore the wilderness, but haven’t quite reached a level of endurance (or attention span) to tackle that six-mile mountain hike, then we have the ideal park for you. Located in Maple Valley, its name says it all…Lake Wilderness Park. Complete with a brand-new playground, a beach and swimming area (hello summer!), large grassy spaces to play and picnic and acres of trails and wetlands to explore, it’s everything you’d want in a park and more! If you’re ready to give this popular South Sound spot a try, scroll down for the deets.
Scooters, Bikes, Dogs, Kids…Come One, Come All
Located approximately 45 minutes southeast of Seattle, Lake Wilderness Park is a 117-acre park that boasts a 42-acre arboretum with forest trails and display gardens along with flat, paved trails perfect for tiny terrors who are more keen on perfecting their cycle and scootering skills. In addition to well-maintained trails and paths, you will find huge areas of open green space for your doggie’s playing delight. But the best part? All of these amenities surround the brand-new playground complete with swings, slides, climbing structures and rope jungle gyms to keep the busiest of tykes happy and entertained.
Calling All Climbers!
If you’ve got a little Spiderman wannabe, he’s going to be in superhero heaven navigating the new web-like play structure. The big rope and slide structure is designed for the 6 and older crew, but there’s also a smaller structure for tots that might not have grown their own set of Go-Go-Gadget arms yet. If your little one is more into reaching for the clouds, there is a large swing set decked out with two baby swings, four regular swings, a see-saw swing (one side for a bigger kid, the other designed for your littlest explorer—think baby swing-style) and an ADA accessible swing. The playground also has a merry-go-round (currently under repair) that will be an option in the future for your tiny tots, and most likely a new bicep workout for you! Regardless of what your kiddo’s go-to activity is, if you’re looking for a place to peter out your bundle of energy, you won’t be disappointed here.
Right Now You’re in Warm-Ups, But When It Warms Up…
Keep this park on your spring and summer radar! The lake has a beach to accommodate endless sandcastles as well as an even bigger green space for those who prefer to set up their beach camp away from the water and put their little piggies in the grass as opposed to the sand. The park also features a huge dock for fishing and lounging, which surrounds the swimming area for when the weather really heats up, along with seasonal lifeguards, boat rentals and a concession stand (ice cream, anyone?).
Moms Who Lunch
If a mid-day picnic is beckoning you, there is certainly plenty of room to throw down a blanket or take advantage of the many picnic tables that call this park home. Psst…if you’ve got a large group (think: PEPS group or family reunion), reserve one of three picnic shelters or five picnic sites. At least 15 tables are located on the main grassy area by the beach, but dozens (and dozens!) of others are scattered throughout the park. Pack those PB&Js, pick a table, let the Littles run after the ducks and enjoy the views of the lake year-round.
Wait! One More Thing…
If your kiddos have already conquered those basic biking skills or a trail walk sounds like just the ticket to burn off the stir-crazies, you can access the 17.3-mile Cedar River Trail from this park. The soft-surface section of the trail is called the Green to Cedar Rivers Trail and will connect you to the Cedar River Trail that runs all the way from Renton to Landsburg!
Good to Know
The large main parking lot is located between the playground area and the beach with plenty of parking spots for even the busiest days and biggest grocery-getters. Since 2015, 91 paved parking spots have been added.
As you head down the road towards the park there will be two entrances. The first entrance will take you to the Lake Wilderness Lodge and the Arboretum, but if you go down to the next entrance on your left, you will find a generous lot near the lake and playground amenities. No pass required!
Restrooms are located near the beach as well as next to the playground.
Lake Wilderness Park
22500 S.E. 248th St.
Maple Valley, Wa 98038
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.-dusk
Have you visited the new playground at Lake Wilderness Park? Planning to go soon? We would love to hear about your adventure in the comments below!
—Alaina Weimer (all photos courtesy of the writer)