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The Wetlands pages are now located on the Neighbors of Seahurst Park site, clicking the menu items will redirect you there.

1. What is this web site about?

This site is about promoting and protecting Seahurst Park in Burien. It started because of concerns about a pending development on the NE border of the park which is likely to have significant negative impacts on the natural habitat in that area. The biggest issues are the clearing that will be done as part of the development and the potential for changes and damage that could be done by runoff and discharge from the development. Once the site was started, it made sense to include other information about the Park that shows what a unique and valuable resource it is, since that's what it's all about.

2. How big is the park and where is it?

Seahurst Park covers approximately 178 acres of Puget Sound beach and sloping hillsides on the west side of Burien Washington. The park continues to grow as Burien obtains more of the surrounding land. It's south of Seattle and just north of Des Moines, Washington. You can use Google Maps to see where it is. The satellite images will give you a good idea of what it's like.

3. What are the Park hours?

The park is open only during daylight hours. Normally the park gates open by 8 AM, unless there are serious weather issues or other problem in the park. The closing hours vary depending on the time of year. In the middle of winter the park closes by 4:30. In the peak of summer it's open until at least 10:00 PM. As a general rule the gate is locked half an hour before dark, so it changes throughout the year. You can get an idea of the closing times by checking the Sunset calendar from Closing time will be sometime after sunset. You can also use their link to create a Custom Calander. Choose Seattle for the city and tick the box for "Civil Twilight". Closing time will be approximately the same, but will vary slightly because it is adjusted in half hour increments (5 PM, then 5:30 PM, 6 PM etc.) Always check the sign on the gate post at the park entrance, because that is the official closing time. The only time that people are normally allowed in the Park after dark are for the Moonlight Beach Walks sponsored by The Environmental Science Center, People for Puget Sound, the City of Burien and the Seattle Aquarium.

4. Who owns the park?

The City of Burien owns the park. They continue to purchase adjoining land as it becomes available when the budget permits. Several large tracts of land have been added in the last couple of years.

5. How old is the park?

The area that the park occupies was used by Native Americans for many years before settlers arrived in the mid-1800s. Some settlers homesteaded in the area around 1860, but primarily to obtain logging rights. Once the land was cleared it was used for homesteads and as a park by area residents, being very popular in the early 1900s. One of the primary uses for a long time was as a water source because of the high quality of the spring water. There are still many springs in the park. Part of the area was a private estate for many years, before the family sold it to King County to help establish the Park. The official park was established in 1975 and owned by King County. Work on developing the Marine Technology Center started in 1968 and it was first occupied in 1972. Additional property was acquired over the years, and in 1993 the process to transfer it to the City of Burien began. Since then the Park has been maintained and administered by the City of Burien, who is responsible for protecting and caring for it as a public trust.

6. What facilities are available?

The park has new restrooms which were completed in November of 2008, parking areas, climbing equipment in a playground area, walking paths, 2 covered picnic areas with barbecues (that can be reserved for a fee), and lots of opportunities to watch birds and animals. The primary facilities are marked on this Google Map

7. How much parking is there?

There is limited parking space at the end of the road along the beach. More spaces are in a larger parking area up the hill.

8. Is the park handicapped accessible?

Yes. There are a limited number of handicapped parking spaces available in the lower parking area, and a concrete and paver walkway along the beach in the north section of the park. The walkway can be bumpy in spots due to settling, but a few feet further back from the seawall there is also a gravel road that goes to the north end of the park. There is a wide, well graded gravel pathway suitable for handicapped access extending along the beach at the south end of the park. Some of the trails away from the beach can be rugged and muddy.

9. Is there a fee for using the park?

There are no fees to use the park, it is currently supported by tax dollars. The two picnic shelters with barbecues can be reserved for a fee from April to September.

  • Fees: Weekends (Saturday and Sunday)-$55; Weekdays-$45
  • To reserve call (206) 988-3700 or visit the City of Burien Parks site.
10. What dangers does the park face?

The park (like most urban parks) is at risk from all sorts of normal activities in the area. Chemicals and pollutants are carried into the park and the adjoining sound by wind and water. There is a large wetlands area in the north east corner of the park that helps to protect North Creek, the Salmon Hatchery and Puget Sound. But this wetland is being threatened by a proposed development. It's critically important that any development that is done around the park follows best current practices to protect the park.

The Park is also at risk simply from heavy use. That brings not only potential vandalism but also wear and tear. Please stay on the designated pathways and trails to limit erosion and damage to plants. And please refrain from removing natural materials from the Park. Every thing in the Park has a purpose. Sticks, leaves and even dead bugs and animals decompose to produce raw material for another generation of plants and animals. Shells on the beach that look empty provide potential shelter for small sea creatures, and eventually break down to provide material for the beach. Even rocks and gravel on the beach are part of the process that eventually creates new sand. Please do remove anything you bring into the Park, at least as far as the nearest garbage can. If you can, pick up at least one piece of someone else's garbage if they've been inconsiderate enough to leave it behind. And please clean up after your animals if they've accompanied you to the Park. Keep in mind that this is not an off-leash park. Even if your dog doesn't catch any birds, simply chasing them can prevent them from having time to gather enough food for themselves and perhaps their young.

Another danger the Park faces is invasive species. This is most noticeable along the trails that run near the borders of the park. English Ivy, English Holly and blackberries have made their way into the edges of the park. If left uncontrolled they will eventually overwhelm and crowd out the native plants that make up the habitat that is so important to the area.

11. What can I do to help make the park a better place?
  • Please stay on the roads and trails so that plants don't get damaged. Avoid taking short cuts across or straight down slopes. Water follows the new trail and with the ground cover destroyed will cause serious erosion over time.
  • You can help keep the park clean by picking up litter that is on the ground. If everyone who visited the park picked up just one piece of litter, there would soon be none left. There are garbage cans and recycling bins throughout the park, please help by picking up a loose plastic bottle, a paper cup, or anything similar.
  • Like any area these days, invasive, non-native plants are a problem. The most obvious are English Ivy, English Holly and Himalayan Blackberries. Most of the Park is pretty clear of these plants, but they are starting to move in along some of the trails around the boundaries and in scattered patches throughout the Park. Burien has an Adopt-A-Park Program that helps to coordinate volunteers who want to improve the park. Please consider volunteering, even a one time activity helps. Also, Ivy (and to some extent Holly) is particularly easy to control, at least in the early stages. The runners can be pulled up without much effort. If you're hiking and notice a little ivy, pull it out. Often there will be only one or two runners, and it can be totally eradicated at that spot in just a few minutes. But if it's ignored, it will overwhelm the area and be much more difficult to remove. You don't have to get it all, even pulling out one runner helps keep it from spreading. You may leave the pulled out plant laying on the ground, just set it off the trail. It doesn't tend to reroot if it's not in good ground contact. Just pulling out one runner as you go through the park will help. Larger sections need to be rolled up carefully to avoid damaging wanted plants. IvyOut has good information about controlling ivy. King County has a page with more information about invasive plants/noxious weeds.
12. What types of animals are in the park?

Lots. Birds include Eagles, herons, ospreys, hawks, owls, woodpeckers and numerous smaller species as well as all the types of birds you'd expect to find along a natural shore, including seasonal migrating birds. You can sit on the seawall and watch gulls and other sea birds fish. There are also reports of coyotes, foxes, raccoons, both grey and Douglas squirrels, and many others. When we have specific information about new wildlife we'll add them to the Seahurst Park Wildlife page.

13. What kinds of terrain are in the park?

The park is bordered on the east by Puget Sound. There are two main canyons running uphill towards the east. The southern canyon is the one that the entry road comes down, with the parking lots part way down and at the bottom. Some of the slopes are pretty steep and not accessible, so between the two canyons access is pretty much limited to the section along the beach. The north canyon has a gravel road which is blocked at the top by a gate, but is a good walking trail. There are also several trails up the north canyon, with a couple of places where you can cross from one side to the other. The trails can be very muddy and slippery when wet. Please stay on the trails to protect the area, cutting across slopes or cutting corners can end up causing serious erosion. The following maps from Washington Trout show the stream channels and ground contours. Unfortunately the park covers parts of 4 different maps, so you can't see it all on one. The stream marked "5A" is North Creek and the one marked "7A" is South Creek.

14. What is the beach like?
There are two types of beach along the park shore.

At the south end where the Rehabilitation Project has been completed the beach slopes gently to the water line and is easily accessible from the trail and parking lot.

Along the north end where the Project hasn't started yet there is a seawall, and below that there are various amounts of large rocks, logs and other obstructions. There are enough sand areas that you can make your way along the shore at low tide, but at some spots you will need to scramble over obstacles. Check the tide table to find the best times to go to the beach.

At both ends there is a gently sloping sand shore below the high tide line. At extreme low tide this can be as much as 40-50 yards wide. Remember that the Park is a Marine Reserve, please do not disturb or remove any natural features or animals that you see in this (or any other) area.

15. Are there rivers or streams in the park?
There are two main streams or creeks in the Park, one at each end.

South Creek has been rehabilitated where it meets the shore and runs in a nice meandering bed. This creek starts above the park and runs down along the road and parking lots to the shore.

North Creek begins up in the wetlands above the shore. These wetlands are the sole source of water for the creek. Once it reaches the service road along the shore North Creek currently runs in pipes and a concrete channel. Part of the flow from the creek is diverted to the Marine Technology Center to provide water for the Salmon Hatchery. There is also a fish ladder and holding area for use by the salmon returning to the hatchery. This section tends to fill up with gravel and other sediment each winter and needs to be cleaned out. There are plans to reconstruct this area to make it more natural and self sustaining, trapping less sediment.

There are also numerous seeps and springs above and below the high tide line, some of these have their own channels that the water runs in, others just spread out and run along the surface of the sand.

16. Can I fish or hunt in the park?
Burien Municipal Code 7.30.160 Shellfish and food fish. states:

(1) All laws, rules and regulations of the State Department of Fish and Wildlife relating to season, limits, and methods of taking are applicable to the taking of shellfish or food fish in city park areas and, in addition to such laws, the city of Burien may close certain city park areas to the taking of shellfish. Such closed areas shall be posted with appropriate signs.

(2) Seahurst Park and Eagle Landing Park are designated as marine reserve areas. The taking or intentional damaging of shells, rocks, plants, driftwood, shellfish, or animals dead or alive from the beaches within marine reserve areas is prohibited. This marine reserve designation shall allow and encourage the protection of fragile marine ecosystems and the education of the public regarding proper beach uses. The intentional taking or damaging of shells, rocks, plants, driftwood, shellfish, or animals dead or alive from the beaches or associated marine areas within these areas is prohibited. [Ord. 475 2, 2007]

And 7.30.330 Firearms, weapons. prohibits:

discharging "across, in or onto any park area a firearm, bow and arrow, crossbow, air or gas weapon, or any device capable of injuring or killing any person or animal, or damaging or destroying any public or private property",

State fishing regulations apply in most City Parks, but Seahurst Park and Eagle Landing Park are designated as Marine Reserves, so no fishing inside the Park boundaries. And no hunting.

17. Can I ride my motorcycle in the park?

Motorized vehicles other than Park Department and emergency vehicles are not allowed on park trails or pathways.

18. What other parks are nearby?

Burien has a list of all the parks in the City, each name links to information about that specific park.

19. Can I let my dog run loose in the Park?

Seahurst Park is not an off-leash park. All dogs or other pets or domestic animals must be kept on a leash no greater than 15 feet in length, and under control at all times. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets. Please visit Serve Our Dog Areas for locations of off leash parks.

20. What projects have been done and are being planned to improve the Park?

A lot of things are going on in the park. The old restroom has been torn down and a new one completed (late 2008). 10 acres of land on the southern end of the park were recently acquired and have been added to the park. Trails, parking lots and paths are being upgraded. And last but not least, a massive habitat restoration program is underway at Seahurst Park. The seawall/barriers in the southern portion of the park has been removed and the shore restored to it's natural state. It's a model project that has been inspected and admired by groups from all over the country. Plans have been made to do the same for most of the north end of the Park. The seawall was originally built by King County in 1972. Since then a lot has been learned about shoreline habitat. The seawall actually changed conditions and caused a major loss of habitat. Removing it and restoring a naturally sloping beach will allow many forage fish to return to the area, and enhance the passage along the shore for salmon. There's additional information on the Burien Parks Department website and in the Seahurst Park Master Plan (part way down the page).

21. What educational opportunities does the Park provide?

In addition to the natural environment that the Park provides for people to enjoy and learn from, the Highline School District [partnered with the Federal Way and South Central School Districts] operates the Marine Technology Center at the north end of the Park. This is a unique facility that provides high school students the opportunity to experience college level oceanography and related courses in the real world. Among other programs there is a fully functional, small scale salmon hatchery in the facility. Students who studied at the MTC now work in scientific agencies all over the country and at all levels of government. This is the only facility of it's type in the country.

The Environmental Science Center works with the City of Burien to provide field trips and day camps for students utilizing the resources of the Park. There are plans for the ESC to locate an educational facility in the Park. They are currently running a fund raising campaign to collect the last round of money needed to complete this project, please consider a donation of any size.

22. Where can I learn more about the Park?
Links will be added here as we become aware of them.
  • The City has a document on line that has some history on the Park.
  • A more detailed version is available as a PDF Document
  • The city also has a video about the Seahurst Park Habitat Restoration Project that plays on The Burien Channel on Comcast. See the schedule for show times.
  • Historically the Park was in the area used by the Duwamish Indians, although their website has no additional information about the Park at this time. Even though the Duwamish have a documented history going back thousands of years in the Seattle area, and the city of Seattle is named after a Duwamish Chief, the tribe is still struggling to get Federal recognition.

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Content Updated August 20, 2009
Minor update June 30, 2010