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Destination PNW: Bridle Trails State Park
Explore Bridle Trails State Park, 482 acres of inspiration…all without going off the grid.
This post comes to us from nature expert and Northwest native, Lauren Haule.
The Pacific Northwest is nothing short of a mystical dream for the outdoor wanderer. Its towering trees and endless walking paths lead to destinations fit for a fairytale. You’d be hard pressed to find a region as ripe with adventure and inspiration.
For instance, nestled unsuspectingly in the Seattle suburbs of Bellevue and Kirkland is Bridle Trails State Park. This 482-acre park boasts over 28 miles of winding forest trails tangled up amongst small horse farms and quaint neighborhoods. Located only 15 minutes outside the city, the quiet paths and local plant life is well worth the short trip. Shared by horseback riders, runners, walkers, dogs and, of course, wildlife, Bridle Trails offers all the inspiration and beauty of the wilderness without having to go off the grid.
With three main trails of varying length the park lends itself nicely to a quiet stroll or a brisk hike, depending on your mood. Used mainly as equestrian grounds since the 50’s, it’s not unlikely to see local riders trotting through. Personally, I find it the ideal place to put on some headphones, meander through the lush greens and get lost in the trees.
On any given day, the wildflowers and berries that grow within the thick forest-like floor are prime with fruit and flowers. You will almost always encounter an Oregon Grape bush or the Himalayan blackberry. As you move further into the park you’ll notice ferns make up the majority of ground coverage. There are more than seven different types of fern species represented, including the Maidenhair Fern and the Sword Fern. Further still, and you come upon a small open field thick with local flowers of every shape and color.
The real show-stopper here is the abundance of towering Pacific Redceders throughout the entire park. As the sun plays behind the clouds and peeks through these giant trees, the light cascading down is other-worldly. If you look closely, alongside the moss-covered stumps are small, bright flowers, like the perennial herb called the Self-heal. The entire plant is edible, and also quite beautiful with its vibrant bulb clusters popping against the greens.
Within the park these small treasures are around every leaf and stump, as nearly 200 plants call Bridle Trails home. For the more detailed wanderer, here is the complete list of all the Plants and Animals.
In truth, Bridle Trails often times falls under the radar being overshadowed by larger parks and destinations within a few hours (I’m talking to you, Mt. Rainier). To the locals that know it, there really is no other park near Seattle that showcases everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Go explore this reticent escape — you won’t be disappointed.