Seward Park was designed by the Olmsted Brothers. It is located in the Seward Park neighborhood at 5895 Lake Washington Blvd. S, 98118. It is 300 acres.
Your walk starts by the beach area, just west of the Clay Studio. Then proceed north along the west shoreline up to the north end of the park, where the Olmsteds proposed quite an interesting array of park features. From there, head back south through the middle of the forest on the Skebexced Trail, then turning onto the Lost Lake trail to eventually reach the Audubon Center, then the tennis court area, and finally to the inner turn-around to the Japanese Lantern and Torii Gate.
Originally called Bailey Peninsula, hilly Seward Park boasts some of Seattle’s oldest-growth native forest thanks to John Charles Olmsted, who helped save it from development by encouraging the city to include its purchase in the park and boulevard system he designed in 1903. In the 1903 report, Olmsted encouraged the city to acquire it before the forest was injured by logging or clearing for development.
Bailey Peninsula was far outside the City limits when Olmsted proposed including it as part of the Comprehensive Park & Boulevard System in 1903. As a 300-acre natural reserve it would form an ideal terminus of what is now Lake Washington Boulevard. Although it was not included in the list of park acquisitions in the first bond issue in 1906, it would subsequently be bought by the City in 1911.
Olmsted’s 1912 preliminary plan for the park locates programmed spaces, such as a dancing pavilion, basketball and tennis courts, and a small boat harbor on the northern shore of the park. The majority of the park featured the old growth forest, which visitors could explore via several meandering trails. The design is a prime example of the Olmsted Brothers’ ecological approach to park design, with many woodland trails, an amphitheater and a shoreline trail.
Olmsted’s plan was never fully implemented, but his 1912 plan influenced later development in the park, and the forest has largely been preserved. Recreational facilities are mostly restricted to the flat isthmus.