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Originally published Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Waterfalls, woodpeckers in Bellevue park

Weowna Park features waterfalls, woodpeckers, mountain-beaver habitat and some of the largest remaining conifers in Bellevue.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Walkabout |

Where: Weowna Park

Location: 1420 168th Ave. S.E., Bellevue

Length: Almost three miles of trails

Level of difficulty: Flat to fairly steep dirt, gravel and bark paths; a paved sidewalk along the west side provides some wheelchair access.

Setting: Tucked away in Bellevue within view of Lake Sammamish are 80 lovely acres that hold some of Bellevue's largest remaining conifers, as well as habitat that harbors the elusive mountain beaver. You'll probably never spot one of these native mammals, but chances are good you'll see or hear several types of woodpeckers, as well as see plenty of tree trunks bearing their handiwork. On a recent visit, a determined pair of sapsuckers processed trees on both sides of the trail, almost ignoring my presence, while a curious black-capped chickadee kept an eye on me.

Highlights: With the winter rains, you'll be able to see the park's two small waterfalls. Little Phantom Creek didn't run through here — or even exist — until homesteader Henry Thode dug an outlet (with the help of some dynamite) in the 1890s between Phantom Lake to the west and Lake Sammamish to drain some acreage for farming.

Over the years, erosion cut a steep ravine into the park area, until an engineering project in the 1990s stabilized the banks of the creek. The trail that enters the forest near Southeast 19th Street follows the stream, and a loop to the south takes you by some large conifers. The northern trail has a more open forest canopy, and traverses several ridges and valleys. Well-marked guideposts at trail junctions keep you from getting lost (note the trail map at the entry kiosk, or print out a map from the website).

Facilities: None

Restrictions: Leash and scoop laws in effect for pets. No bikes allowed.

Directions: From Interstate 90 heading east, take Exit 11B and go north on 148th Avenue Southeast. Turn right on Southeast 16th Street, and cross 156th Avenue Southeast to get on Southeast Phantom Way, which curves to become 168th Avenue Southeast; park on the right side of the street and find the trailhead kiosk near Southeast 19th Street.

Heading west on I-90, take Exit 13, turn right onto West Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast, turn left at Southeast 26th Street, and then right on 168th Avenue Southeast. Or, to park at the eastern part of the park, the Heron's Gate trailhead is on West Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast three miles north of I-90.

By bus: Metro bus route 221 runs along 168th Avenue Southeast. Metro: 206-553-3000 or http://metro.kingcounty.gov

For more information: Call 425-452-7225 or see www.myparksandrecreation.com/ParksTrails/Details.aspx?pid=476.

Renton-based freelancer Cathy McDonald, a former geologist, has written about science and nature travel for more than 20 years. Contact her: nwwriter@hotmail.com.

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