Edited to add: I wrote this back in December, but forgot to post it. Here it is! It’s still a lovely park to wander around, winter or summer.
You may have noticed it’s been pretty quiet here on this blog. I’ve been dealing with my chronic foot and ankle issues, and have not been allowed to hike. It’s kind of depressing, but I believe I am making slow progress.
Last week I was cleared to try a trial hike of less than 2 miles to see how it felt. I had seen photos of friends at the Gold Creek Pond area, and wanted to head up there, but when I checked the current conditions as we were getting ready, it was 26 degrees with fog and freeing drizzle. Not my cup of tea! So we picked a closer-in trail, and booked it over to the east side of the sound for a quick hike before it got dark.
Hazel Wolf Wetlands is a sweet little natural area that’s been preserved up on the Sammamish Plateau. It sits behind giant mansions, hidden from the road. The trail starts off by traveling through a narrow greenbelt between tracts of homes. After about a third of a mile, you’ll reach a junction with another trail that goes to Beaver Lake Preserve. Continue on the Main Trail, or take Ann’s Trail to loop around the east side of the lake. Boardwalks cross over marshy areas, and bridges cross creeks. At one bridge, you’ll be able to see a beaver dam, which has built up the surface of the wetland considerably.
We swished through deep layers of decaying leaves on the trail, winding among trees and around the shore of the lake. We saw evidence of pileated woodpeckers and red-breasted sapsuckers, and lots of lichen, moss, and licorice and sword ferns.
We also saw some fungi and possibly slime mold. There was a very thin layer of ice on the open water in the wetland, and Annika enjoyed throwing rocks onto it to hear the “plink” sound it made. We heard a few frogs and red-winged blackbirds, but otherwise the bird life was pretty quiet until the end of the hike, when we heard a great-horned owl hooting.
The trail goes around the wetland, and at one point crosses some open water on a boardwalk. You’ll find a nice wooden platform where you can look out over the water. Keep your eyes open for marsh wrens, mergansers, and other waterfowl.
Dogs and bikes are not allowed on Ann’s Trail, so I’d suggest leaving your furry companions at home. There are no bathrooms or other facilities at this park; no permits are needed. The hike is about 1.6 miles with 50 feet of elevation gain. It’s a wonderful, quiet place to spend an hour in nature.