North Mercer Slough My Love

by Connie DeLaVergne on May 27, 2010

3 Miles
1 hour
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (difficult)
mostly flat easy walk on well-maintained trails, couple of inclines at start and finish
6515 Steps
227 kcals
Mercer Slough Nature Park

woodsy trail into Mercer Slough Park

Previously I’ve mentioned that walking is good for relationships, that it has helped save my marriage and I suspected opportunities to demonstrate this phenomenon to my readers would emerge in time. Today’s walk is a good example.

Last night I had asked my husband, Steve, if he would walk with me in the morning. He said yes but it would have to be early because he had an appointment at 11:00 AM. I suggested we drive our daughter to school together and go for a walk in the Wilburton neighborhood immediately thereafter. Steve agreed.

This morning, however, I pushed sleeping-in to the limit and wasn’t ready to leave when it was time to go. I promised I would be ready for our walk as soon as Steve got back from taking our daughter to school. When he returned I met Steve at the front door ready for our walk. His face registered mild surprise, relief perhaps, and I suggested we begin our walk at the Environmental Education Center at the north end of Mercer Slough instead of Wilburton. Steve appeared fine with the suggestion.

We locked the front door of our house but I had forgotten something inside so I had to go back in to get it. Steve sighed. In the car I remembered that I left something else I needed inside the house. Steve turned off the car so I could use his keys because I didn’t bring mine and he moaned. Three blocks away from our house I realized I had forgotten the camera. This time Steve sighed, moaned and complained out loud! I apologized of course and Steve turned the car around. After retrieving the camera Steve was visibly irritated and I felt tense and guilty. I broached the conversation I knew we needed to have and Steve confessed he was angry because of my self-concern and thoughtlessness (a couple of my issues I’m sorry to report).
I apologized again and offered up the opportunity to not go on the walk if he’s short on time or doesn’t want to anymore.

Steve drove to the Environmental Education Center (EEC) at 1625 118 Ave SE. We parked in the lot immediately north of the EEC. Steve waited at a 30-foot distance for me to gather my things and then we followed the gravel trail behind the EEC—which are sustainably built structures perched in the tree canopy overlooking the Mercer Slough. I made a mental note of the tension still existing between us as we headed into the woodsy trail.

Immediately I noticed the thick vegetation. It had been raining pretty solidly for a number of days and I could feel the moisture and life surrounding us in these woods.

The trail climbs upward to street level and is a good warm-up for your heart, useful for Steve and me this morning, I thought. Follow 118 Ave SE south to pick up the Bellefields Trail at the bollard where you will turn right again to get back into the woods.

” . . . in wilderness is the preservation of the world.”  Thoreau 1851

These woods are beautiful—bright green, moist, and large—complete with the sounds of a running creek and many happy birds. We marveled at the beauty and Steve recalled being on this trail when our daughter was young and I joyfully snapped a bunch of pictures. The trail is easy to follow, picturesque and well-maintained. Follow it to the right onto a small bridge toward Slough Channel Bridge. Stay right and go up the steps. At the Y stay right again and here you will notice that you are surrounded by plant life and literally walking through a tunnel of flora. There is so much growth here, I was amazed by the abundance. Follow the trail bollard right toward Slough Channel Bridge.

Slough Channel Bridge

You will know when your get to the Slough Channel Bridge because it is sizable and crosses an inlet of water. If you look right to the NNW you can see the City of Bellevue skyline and if you are at all like me and Steve you will be amazed that such a beautiful and pristine place exists so close to a city. It’s an oasis.

Mercer Slough and Bellevue Skyline

To the left the slough meanders and Steve pointed out a lone duck that appeared to be guarding a small brown dock. After crossing the Slough Channel Bridge turn right on a Heritage Trail (trails with signage that explore Bellevue’s history) and head north around the blueberry field that is on your left.

Did you know that in . . .

•1869 Aaron Mercer settles on the slough. (Hence the name, Mercer Slough.)

•1947 Overlake Blueberry Farm was established. (Some of these bushes might be over 60-years-old!)

•1956 City acquires land for Bellefields Nature Park. (This park is older than me.)

The more I explore, the more impressed I become. I love that the City of Bellevue puts these facts on their signs. It helps me appreciate the land, the work involved with it over the years and the people who were here before me.  I can’t help but wonder what it would’ve been like to live here as a Native American before traffic and asphalt. I imagine it was quiet, plentiful, peaceful, and wet, of course the well-maintained trails and boardwalks would be missing.

At the Ostbo Loop as indicated on the trail bollard, head west toward the Winters House or enjoy the Ostbo Loop beforehand.

wild rhoddies

We took the Ostbo Loop around before heading toward the Winters House. It’s a really pretty loop especially when the wild rhododendron bushes are in bloom. At the remains of the old boiler house a sign informed us that Endre Ostbo purchased this land and opened King of Shrubs Nursery where he successfully grew rhododendrons in wet peat moss, which explains the purple rhoddies I saw along this loop.

remains of an old boiler room

After the Ostbo Loop, Follow the trail bollard west toward Winters House Visitor Center. Head south on the gravel trail behind the Winters House to pick up the Winters House Trailhead. Pass behind Bill Pace Produce. We are officially heading back to our starting point on what is a BIG loop of well-maintained trails, bridges and boardwalks on a 320-acre park nestled in the heart of Bellevue, Mercer Slough Nature Park, in case I didn’t mention it earlier.

another beautiful trail

At T go left toward Bellefields Trail. At the 4-way intersection go straight and over the Slough Channels Bridge again. Remarkably the duck was still on dock duty. I grabbed another picture of it—this might be the best one yet, it’s almost a silhouette.

duck dock guard

Right at T following Bellefields Loop. Go left at next T toward 118 Ave SE, following trail bollard. At Y stay right toward 118 Ave SE. At 118 Ave SE go left toward the EEC. Left downward into woods and behind EEC buildings to parking lot.

By the time Steve and I got to the car the tension we felt when we arrived was no longer with us. To tell you the truth, I don’t know where it went. I suspect we forgot about being mad once we got out of ourselves and into this beautiful place. Perhaps the negative energy dissipated as we moved our bodies.  Maybe Steve simply forgave me. I don’t know but we liked each other again, it felt good and . . .

one thing remains undeniably certain, walking is good for our hearts.

photo by Steve with love

Walk on my friends.


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A Loved One<3

Also, leave a comment so we can get a conversation going. I LOVE COMMENTS! ~almost as much as I love Steve.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison June 10, 2010 at 5:15 pm

That is a FABULOUS running area. There is a map of the entire slough in front of the Winter’s House which has each segment of the trail system broken down into 10ths of miles, so you can measure exactly how far you ran… or want to run. All paths are either soft ground or wood, with just a short jaunt of metal on the bridges. So, Connie, if you want to begin running, this is the perfect place to go. No cars, fine for your joints, pretty environment. Go for it! Oh, of course you can continue walking, too.


Connie DeLaVergne July 3, 2010 at 10:04 am

Is there such a thing as a fabulous running area?


Peggy Katsch September 1, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I saw this on another post and it made me smile

I’m not crazy, but the voices in my head might be. 🙂


Connie DeLaVergne September 4, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Thanks Peggy, smiling is good and I think everyone has crazy voices in their head sometimes.


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