Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Sept. 21, 2021

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Seattle-area ‘Doggy Disneyland’ off-leash park great place to spend afternoon

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Rainy the Burnese mountain dog celebrates a wet, successful fetch with a shake on July 5 at Marymoor Park in Redmond. Behind him, signs mark a patch of the park that is occupied by nesting herons, and therefore closed to humans and their canine companions.
Rainy the Burnese mountain dog celebrates a wet, successful fetch with a shake on July 5 at Marymoor Park in Redmond. Behind him, signs mark a patch of the park that is occupied by nesting herons, and therefore closed to humans and their canine companions. (Photos by trevor lenzmeier/ Seattle Times) Photo Gallery

REDMOND — Who says you need a dog to enjoy the dog park?

There are 40 acres of off-leash area available for four-legged friends at Marymoor Park in Redmond, known to some as Doggy Disneyland. It’s a fitting nickname — like furry cannonballs of joy zipping in every direction, tongues flapping and tails wagging, dogs bounce between their owners, their pup pals and the Sammamish Slough in search of far-flung tennis balls.

A 2-mile walk around the off-leash area at Marymoor is the perfect way to spend an afternoon, dog or no.

Marymoor Park loop

  • Round-trip distance: 2 miles
  • Parking is available for a buck at lots D and G off Northeast Marymoor Way; our walk starts at the former, just south of the summer concerts stage.

The River Trail traces Sammamish Slough from Parking Lot D down to Lake Sammamish, just shy of a mile. At the trailhead, look out for doggy bags as well as signs laying out the ground rules of the park (no digging holes, leashes on in the parking lot, etc.); identifying landmarks (Dog Leg Bridge, Swamp Dog Bridge and so on); and highlighting the six habitat types in the off-leash area, each with distinct plant life, temperatures, birdsong and more.

The trailhead marks the transition from the shady Conifer Grove to the River Corridor. Keep the wooden fence and the slough beyond it to your right and follow the gravel trail deeper into the park; it should only be a moment before you see a dog trotting, a great blue heron alighting on a branch above the water, or both.

The dog party, of course, is down by the watering hole. There are a couple of prime spots for nautical fetch in the river; it’s a hoot watching the game itself and the dogs’ differing approaches to the water. Some Labs dive right in after any old soggy ball, no matter who it “belongs” to, while other hounds get as close to the water as they can, think about it a moment, then resign to barking their pals back to shore. It’s a great place to dog/people-watch, especially if you don’t mind an awkward look or two when you explain, “Actually, none of these dogs are mine.”

I am tempted to say I could spend all day watching those dogs leap, splash, paddle, grab, turn, paddle, climb, stumble, drop, turn, leap, repeat. One deterrent, however, might be the violent concert of nesting herons squawking and ruffling feathers in the dozens of nests in the trees across the trail. When folks thought up “the birds and the bees,” herons must have been the inspiration. Those are some noisy birds.

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