A dry winter is the best time for wetlands.

Hazel Wolf Wetlands

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.7 miles

Located within the city of Sammamish, the Hazel Wolf Wetlands are part of a contiguous tract of parks and preserves totaling nearly 800 acres. Many miles of trails traverse these properties allowing for extended explorations. One of the quieter options here—and one free from overexcited mountain bikers—is the hike from the Beaver Lake Preserve to the Hazel Wolf Wetlands.

Nearly level, this delightful hike weaves through mature cedar groves and lush lanes of ferns. From the trailhead follow the Loop Trail north, soon bearing left at a junction. The trail right leads to King County’s Soaring Eagle Park, where most of the biking and trail running action takes place in these parts.

Continue in quiet woods soon reaching another junction. Veer right and proceed through beautiful forest. After crossing a wetland pool on an attractive log bridge, enter the 118-acre wetland preserve named for a longtime social and environmental activist, Hazel Wolf. She was 96 years old when this property was preserved by a consortium of public and private interests forged by the Cascade Land Conservancy (now known as Forterra). The preserve was named in her honor on her 100th birthday.

Hike a short distance farther and come to a junction with Ann’s Trail. You’ll be returning from the left, so hike right circling the large wildlife-rich wetlands. The way hugs the shoreline and utilizes a boardwalk before coming to a wooden observation deck. Scan the reeds and open water for birds and small mammals and admire Tiger Mountain in the distance.

Then continue on Ann’s Trail to a junction. Bear left and follow a wide path along a forested buffer between wetland pools and stately homes. Eventually come to Ann’s Trail again and take it left crossing the wetland’s outlet stream on a large bridge below a complex of beaver dams. Soon afterward return to a familiar junction and retrace your steps back to the trailhead or venture off onto a radiating trail for further exploring.

Watch For: Mergansers, eagles and beavers

Note: Dogs prohibited on Ann’s Trail.

Getting There: From Seattle, follow I-90 east to Exit 17. Then drive the Issaquah-Fall City Road east and bear left onto Duthie Hill Road. Turn left onto the Issaquah-Beaver Lake Road and after 0.7 mile turn right onto Beaver Lake Drive. Follow for 1.8 miles to trailhead at Beaver Lake Preserve.

Craig Romano is the author of nine Washington state hiking books including Winter Hikes of Western Washington Deck.

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