Ravensdale Retreat

"Guess this must be the place..."
“Guess this must be the place…”

Ravensdale retreat is the kind of place you could drive by one thousand times and still not realize it’s there despite the fact that there is a bright, blue, shiny sign out front.

Water, water everywhere...
Water, water everywhere…

The parking area is a non-descript dirt pull off on the east side of SE Ravensdale Way a few miles east of the mega suburb shopping plex quartered by SE Kent-Kangley Rd & Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE. (Gee, I remember when that was mostly just trees… Ah progress)

I don’t know the exact history of the area, but judging by some aging, out of place fruit trees and old fence posts I’d guess at least some of it used to be part of an old farmstead.

Hitchcock's "The Ferns"
Hitchcock’s “The Ferns”

The retreat is a young forest, most recently logged in the 1980s but it still has a real “lived-in” feel with dense growths of sword ferns covering the forest floor and a bright, green tapestry of moss dangling from the trees.

Unfortunately the sounds of civilization are never far, with the Retreat being sandwiched in between the BNSF mainline and Kent-Kangley road.

There is also a rifle range in the vicinity, which makes for a steady chorus of chugging locomotives, growling jake brakes and gunfire. (Hmm, kinda sounds like a redneck wetdream)

That being said, as you amble along deeper and deeper into the woods it’s easy to forget these distractions.

Meandering trails
Meandering trails

The Ravensdale retreat is home to many animals big and small. During the course of my walks beneath it’s trees I’ve encountered deer, elk and more diminutive mammals as well as a host of different bird species.

I imagine in total there exist about 3 miles of somewhat developed trails through the area, bisected by a long gravel road (which is actually a driveway to a large estate across the railroad tracks) The eastern section of the park is more hilly in contrast to the completely flat western half.

As a riparian area, the trails here can become boggy or outright flooded during heavy weather. Be prepared.

Water can make travel...difficult
Water can make travel…difficult

The trail is shared by hikers and horsemen (possibly Centaurs… I dunno) I’ve never actually seen a horse, horseman or Centaur here, but I’m pretty sure they exist due, to their leavings along the trails.

Toward the end of the western section there is a curious signpost reading [←Fairytale Trail]-[Gracie Trail→] Who posted it there? What does it mean? Why?

I don’t know, it’s a mystery, but for whatever reason they are there, and they both end up at the gravel road.

The famous "Fairytale-Gracie" junction
The famous “Fairytale-Gracie” junction

The Ravensdale Retreat is a nice place for a walk and to watch the seasons change. I live close by so I like to visit every now and then. If you are more of a walker/hiker or wanna take someone who might not be in the greatest shape out for a stroll, this is a great place to go. That being said it’s not a destination I myself would drive out of the way for.

Who knows though, try it on, it might just become your own little favorite retreat.

For more info visit: http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/waterandland/natural-lands/ecological/ravensdale-retreat.aspx

Happy Trails, Harry Biped

Riparian forest
Riparian forest