Spotlight on Pioneer Park

December 7, 2014 | by Erin Sirianni

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Earlier this year on vacation with family, I got up every morning and went running on the beach. It sounds nice, but there’s no protection from the sun, your feet sink into the sand, and though the scenery is beautiful, it doesn’t change and distract you from how many miles you have left to run.

Walks on the beach, I get. But I can’t wax poetic about running on the beach. Pioneer Park, however, is a sure-footed runner’s paradise.

After our return home, I was so happy to run again under the cool, shady canopy of the trees, breathing the Douglas Fir-oxygenated air, forgetting the distance as I hopped over tree roots and looked for the correct turns on my route. There are places in Pioneer Park where you feel far away from everything.

It’s also a place I love to explore with my boys and walk my dog.  I’m sure I share this sentiment with the many hikers, runners, dog-walkers, bird watchers, and wanderers of this beautiful green space.

I do mention to my husband that if I don’t come home one of these days, he should check the ravine in case I lost my footing near its steep slope.
Yet I’ve always felt safe, and I’ve yet to be dive-bombed by a Barred Owl.

Pioneer Park Fun Facts

  • Over 113 acres with 6.6 miles of trails located at the south end of Mercer Island
  • Habitat of over 70 avian species, including the Bald Eagle and Pileated Woodpecker; a dozen mammal species, including deer, raccoons, mountain beavers, voles, brown bats, and the Douglas squirrel; and at least 38 kinds of mushrooms
  • Could be a golf course.  Over the years, three different proposals were submitted toward turning a portion of Pioneer Park into a golf course (1969, 1976, and 1990). All were defeated. In 1992, the Mercer Island Open Space Conservancy Trust was formed and effectively protected Pioneer Park from development in perpetuity. Aren’t you glad it isn’t a golf course?
  • Had over 500 letterbox hunters in 2014. Great activity for kids!

What you should know

  • The perimeter trail of the Northwest quadrant is stroller and wheel-chair accessible. Plenty of nearby parking in the QFC village.
  • Dogs may be off-leash / under voice control, except in the the northeast quadrant
  • The southeast quadrant was developed and is maintained specifically for horseback riders coming from the adjacently located Mercer Island Saddle Club
  • Following the path around the perimeter of all three quadrants is approximately 2.5 miles

Sources and More Info
City of Mercer Island Website
Mercer Island History: From haunted wilderness to coveted community by Jane Meyer Brahm