Return Home

Washington Park Arboretum Loop Trail

October 17, 2021
Type : hike
Length : 3 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain : 50 ft.
High Point : 150 ft.

The fall gloom in the morning gave way to a partly cloudy sky after my son’s soccer game, providing the perfect opportunity to go to Arboretum and view some fall colors. We optimistically pulled into one of the Washington Park Arboretum’s parking lot hoping to find a spot, but it was completely full. My wife and son hopped out of the car to begin the walk, while I proceeded to find street parking a couple of blocks away.

Scroll down to begin

As I briskly walked down the Arboretum Loop Trail to catch up with my family, I noticed my son stooped over the pavement excitedly pointing at the ground - he had located a caterpillar. I had to consult my iphone to remember the name of it, a Woolly Bear Caterpillar. I used to see them all the time growing up in Vermont, but this was the first time I had seen one in Washington. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the larger the black stripes, the more “severe” the winter will be. I don’t know what a normal Wolly Bear Caterpillar looks like, but I’m going with larger black stripes on this one, hence, we shall have a severe winter with lots of cold and snow!
Woolly Bear Caterpillar
Woolly Bear Caterpillar
Blue sky and lots of trees
Blue sky and lots of trees
Tall trees along the Washington Park Arboretum Loop Trail
Tall trees along the Washington Park Arboretum Loop Trail
We continued along the Loop Trail, enjoying the fall colors, as well as reading the signage along the way and learning about the Park and it’s various trees.
Fall colors along the Loop Trail
Fall colors along the Loop Trail
Walking along Arboretum Drive East
Walking along Arboretum Drive East
Upon reaching the Northern part of the park, we opted to skip heading out further North to Foster Island, and loop back around. I wasn’t really sure what trail or road was actually part of the Loop Trail at this point, so we started walking on Arboretum Drive East. While there were some barricades at the start of the road indicating it wasn’t open to public traffic, we encountered a number of cars on the road, and eventually decided to head off on one of the numerous side trails.
Entering the Japanese Maples section
Entering the Japanese Maples section
One of the main reasons for choosing the Arboretum Park this weekend was catching some fall colors. While we encountered a number of beautiful trees throughout the park, I figured the Japanese Maple section would be our best bet, and it was indeed full of color. It had been a number of years since I was last here, and I forgot about the pool and sitting area in this section. My son had fun playing around the water while my wife and I enjoyed the fall color.
Fall color in the Japenese Maples
Fall color in the Japenese Maples
Pool in Washington Park Arboretum
Pool in Washington Park Arboretum
Walking along one of the various trails
Walking along one of the various trails
After the Japanese Maples, we ambled along the various trails with no particular destination in mind, other than heading South. We passed through Rhododendron Glen and other sections that escape my mind now, and eventually hooked up with the paved Loop Trail.
Passing through Rhododendron Glen
Passing through Rhododendron Glen
Stone stairs leading to another path
Stone stairs leading to another path
We headed North on the trail and eventually reached our starting point, where Boyer Avenue intersects with Lake Washington Blvd.
Heading North on the Loop Trail
Heading North on the Loop Trail
Blooming plant along the Loop Trail
Blooming plant along the Loop Trail
Small brdige in the Arboretum
Small brdige in the Arboretum
A great place to get out and enjoy the fall colors. Next time I will have to make sure I actually do the entire loop trail, rather than getting side tracked on the many other trails criss-crossing the park.