A little history, a little wildlife, a little botany -- it's all here in this quiet little wetland right off a main road in Federal Way.
The unassuming parking area for West Hylebos Wetlands is a gateway to a surprisingly rich, diverse, and lush wetland. Walk down the wide graveled path past two restored cabins, the Denny and Barker cabins. The Barker cabin is the oldest structure in Federal Way -- Barker was one of the first settlers here and he lived on these wetlands with four other settler families.
Near the trailhead, the land is open and parklike. An informational kiosk greets visitors just a few hundred feet from the parking area, and the path wends around a large hedge, introducing you to a much more wooded, protected environment.
Shortly after passing the kiosk, a trail to the right indicates the Marlake Loop. This is a short, muddy trail to a small lake adjacent to private property. It's a somewhat underwhelming trail; the good stuff further into the wetland, so stay to the left.
Proceed down the wider trail and into the forest. Giant red cedars, hemlocks, and Douglas fir trees dripping with moss surround you, and soon the trail changes from gravel to boardwalk. In winter or rainy periods, the boardwalk can be slippery, so having good grips on your shoes or a walking stick will help here.
Interpretive signs periodically inform the visitor what flora and fauna surrounds the boardwalk. Stop and discover what salal is, which tree towers over you, and what birds you can hear chirping overhead.
A quarter mile from the trailhead arrive at a second junction. Here, each way leads to lovely, calm Brooklake, but the left route is longer (0.5 miles) compared to the 0.25 mile right route. The longer way takes visitors past a huge Sitka spruce tree and 'Deep Sink', one of a very few remaining peat bogs in the area. These are valuable from an environmental and educational perspective. It's worth taking the long way 'round.
Your destination is a quiet place to sit on a bench and contemplate the silence of the lake before heading back. Luckily, this trail loops, so you can take the shorter way back to your car. When you make for the trailhead, follow the trail straight ahead rather than turning right when you head back to the lot.
West Hylebos Wetlands
- 1.2 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 0 feet
- Highest Point
- 70 feet
Hiking West Hylebos Wetlands
West Hylebos Wetlands
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.2898, -122.3293 Open in Google Maps