At 9.6 acres, Esperance Park is a small Snohomish County park in the Edmonds area, just north of Seattle. The northwestern corner, about one square city block, is forested and has a network of trails. If you are in the neighborhood, a walk here offers a pleasant diversion from the commercial bustle of Highway 99.
The forested corner of the park is fenced. There is an entry point near the NW corner, off 222nd St SW, and there are other entry points through the fence along the southern and eastern borders. (The entire western border of the park is fenced and has no gates.)
Some of the forest trails have been here a long time; others may be improvised boot paths. There are no trail signs, so use your best judgment and try to stay on the well-established trails. The total network of trails is probably no more than 0.5 miles long.
There are many tall Douglas firs in the park, as well as a few madrones. The understory is mostly salal, although other shrubs are present. There are a few invasive species such as ivy, holly, and Himalayan blackberry. In some years, sharp-shinned hawks have nested here, and you are likely to see and hear crows, jays and other birds. Squirrel sightings are common.
The county has plans for possible major changes in the park, including a more formalized trail system and creation of a children's "Adventure Playground" in an out-of-sight location in the center of the forest. Whether all of these proposals will materialize is uncertain, but by the time you visit the park there may be some changes.
Note that Esperance Park is open from 7:00 a.m. until dusk. As of 2017, there are no permanent restroom facilities in the park, although portable toilets may be available seasonally.
Extending your hike: Some maps show two small lakes about 0.3 miles west of Esperance Park. (Other maps may show only one lake, or none at all.) These are Chase Lake and the adjoining Chase Lake Pond. A sign at the pond proclaims it to be a "Stormwater Detention Pond," a designation not necessarily appealing to hikers.
But, if you like to explore and are willing add a mile or so round trip to your hike - with negligible elevation change - you may discover the area is worth a visit.
Getting there is a bit roundabout. Some neighborhood streets lead to dead ends, and many others have no sidewalks. For the safest route, begin at the NW corner of Esperance Park and head north for one long block along 80th Ave W. When you reach 220th St SW, turn left and follow the sidewalk west to 84th Ave W where you'll turn left again.
In one block, just before you reach a bridge where 84th Ave W crosses a swampy end of Chase Lake, note the prominent sign on your left proclaiming "Chase Lake Stormwater Detention Pond. Snohomish County Department of Public Works."
What you will see beyond the sign has all the appearances of a small urban park. Around the pond there is a mix of smallish firs, cedars, and deciduous trees, plus a few shrubs and some horsetail. There are a few picnic tables and a bulletin board indicating the area is open 7:00 a.m. to dusk.
There are no permanent rest rooms here although, as at Esperance Park, portable toilets may appear seasonally.
If you begin by walking clockwise around the pond, you will come to a viewing platform that extends out over the water. The path continues on and dead-ends near the southern edge of the pond. If you backtrack, then walk counterclockwise around the western edge of the pond, you will come to a boardwalk that zigzags out over the water's edge.
From the platform or boardwalk, you are likely to see resident mallards and, seasonally, other visiting waterfowl. Crows and jays fly through, and you are likely to see squirrels nearby. The water level in the pond may vary somewhat with the season, and in response to recent rain.
As at Esperance Park, a visit to the pond can be a pleasant and relaxing interlude during a busy day. If time permits, you really should explore them both.