“Informative signs and lush greenery make this short loop a good family destination.
— Brendan Ross
Birding · Fall Colors · Spring
Deer hunting in the main portion of Island Center Forest is permitted for a short period, typically in the second half of October. During this time, the trails are closed to non-hunters. Signs will be placed at trailheads, but if visiting during this period, it's a good idea to check King County's website at kingcounty.gov/services/par…
. The Natural and Gateway Areas, east of Landtrust Trail
, remain open.
Island Center Forest's routes are mostly flat and smooth. Road or trail shoes work fine on these easy trails. Expect to share them with other hikers, runners, cyclists, and horseback riders. Take note that there are several singletracks branching off the established trail system and leading to local residents' backyards.
Dogs are not permitted in the Mukai or Meadowlake Pond areas but are allowed throughout the rest of the trail. They are required to remain "either leashed or under strict sight and voice control," according to local regulations.
Generally, visitors should elect to use the 188th Street Trailhead, as it has the most parking. Paper maps are available here and at the Mukai and Cemetery Trailheads.
Forestry Loop is Island Center's version of a nature walk. Only a third of a mile from the Cemetery Trailhead, it features a number of informative signs describing the history of the region and efforts to convert it to a sustainable forest stewarded by local and county interests.
The loop is accessed from Grinder
, about twenty feet west of the end of Cemetery Run
. A sign marks the intersection. The smooth dirt singletrack is kept remarkably clean and free from debris, especially by forest trail standards. The path is also about as narrow as it comes in Island Center, with grasses, ferns, and bushes growing in abundance. Owing to the excellent maintenance, nothing grows close enough to cause trouble, so runners will be free to enjoy the verdant plant life along the loop. As the route proceeds, keep an eye out for the aforementioned large signs on either side.
While short, the twists and turns of Forestry Loop may leave runners feeling disoriented by the time they finish. Several options exist to continue exploring the forest by turning onto Grinder
and Middle Fork
Flora & Fauna
Originally a state-owned area logged to provide revenue for Washington's education system, Island Center Forest was passed to King County Parks in 2002 as a model for sustainable forest management. Owing to its history, the area exhibits a mix of both old growth and restoration areas. Many local tree species grow here, including enormous firs and one of the Island's largest areas of quaking aspens.
Animal life includes smaller woodland creatures and deer, but the biggest draw to Island Forest is the wide variety of birds, more than eighty species in all. The wetland areas around Mukai and Meadowlake Ponds draw bird watchers from around the region.