Getting Kids Out Into Nature

Big Rock Park and Ebright Park, Sammamish

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Big Rock at Big Rock Park

Annika and I went on an local outing on Friday. We wanted to explore some of the parks on the east side of the metro area. We also wanted to check out some nature play areas as we research ideas for adding a new play area to our school. I had heard good things about Big Rock Park, so while Gabe was at a friend’s house for the day, we spent a few hours exploring.

Big Rock Park is named for a glacial erratic that sits nestled in the forest. The land used to belong to a private citizen, who donated it to the city for a park with trails. There is a new natural play area near the road, with rocks to climb, tunnels to crawl through, wooden stumps to climb on, and a really fun zip line.

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Tunnel at Big Rock Park
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Climbing Wall
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Big Rock Zip Line

Annika also really liked the giant nest of sticks; she would have played in that a lot when she was younger.

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Giant Pretend Bird Nest

Annika’s favorite part of the park was the stream, which harbored a large number of Pacific chorus frogs.

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Exploring the Creek
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Pacific Chorus Frog
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Playing with Frog

She caught many of them, overtopping her hiking boots in the gentle stream. She noticed how they swam in the water and how well they camouflaged themselves. She also liked watching the horses in the field next door.

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Neighbor Horses

Besides playing in the stream, we also walked on the trails through the woods [find a map here].

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Trails at Big Rock Park
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Big Leaf Maple Leaf

There are a few different paths you can take, adding up to just over a mile of trails. It’s very pleasant and peaceful back there, and we found many different kinds of fungi, and even a slime mold!

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Bolete
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Slime Mold! Stemonitis sp.

We came across two dead small mammals, which seemed odd. We hoped they hadn’t been poisoned by neighbors.

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Dead Mole

When we were done at Big Rock Park, we drove out to Ebright Creek Park, which we had passed on the way in. I had noticed some paths through a wetland there.

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Ebright Creek Park Path

There is about 3/4 mile of paths in this park, and a large, very cool play area, with equipment for older and younger kids.

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Ebright Creek Park Playground

The paths would be fine for walking with little ones or strollers, and I could see them being good for learning to ride a bike. The paths do go through some natural areas.

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Natural Area at Ebright Creek Park

There is a nice restroom facility that even had warm water in the sinks. You can get directions for this park from this webpage.

Both of these parks are fun to explore for children, and are worth the drive if you are in the area.

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