Mercer Slough Nature Park
A biologically diverse 320-acre wetland in the heart of urban Bellevue, Mercer Slough Nature Park is Lake Washington’s largest remaining wetland. The park provides a diverse habitat and is home to hundreds of species of plants and wildlife.
The slough itself is a canal that winds through the park and is best explored by kayak or canoe. A trip along the waterway offers views of great blue herons, bald eagles, jays, beavers, otters, wild iris, and water lilies. The canal is limited to human-powered watercraft, making for a peaceful experience. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at Enatai Beach Park. Visitors to the slough may launch their own watercraft from the Sweyolocken Boat Launch located within the park. For those interested in a more educational experience, park rangers lead guided canoe trips through the slough during the summer months from Enatai Beach Park.
Visitors can also explore the area by foot along the more than 7 miles of boardwalks, soft surface trails, and asphalt paths throughout the park. The Heritage Trail connects to the park’s blueberry fields, old greenhouses, and a garden as it winds toward the historical Winters House. The Bellefields Trail explores forests, wetlands, and meadows near the slough channel. Lastly, the paved Periphery Trail circles the park, connecting it to the Mountains to Sound Greenway.
During the summer months, visitors can pick fresh berries at the park’s seasonal U-pick blueberry farm. Seasonal fresh produce, flowers, and other agricultural products are available for purchase from the farm from mid-April to October.
Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center
The park’s Environmental Education Center is a collaboration between the City of Bellevue and Pacific Science Center. The MSEEC is comprised of a visitor center, classrooms, a community building, a “tree house”, and an elevated boardwalk. The center offers various ranger programs such as nature walks and, art in nature classes. The visitor center features interpretive displays about the park’s history as well as a library with books, field guides and park information. The boardwalk area provides a lookout across the slough and a bird’s-eye view of the city skyline. Groups may rent the 1,575-square-foot Douglas Fir Community Room which is a fun location to hold meetings, retreats, classes, and small social gatherings.
The park is also home to one of Bellevue’s historic sites, the Frederick W. Winters House. The house is one of the few buildings associated with the city’s agricultural past. The house is significant for its distinctive Spanish Eclectic architectural style and its association with the early bulb growing and the floricultural industry in the region.