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Island Center Forest

Puget Sound and Islands


Puget Sound and Islands -- Seattle-Tacoma Area
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10.0 miles of trails


Gain: 200 ft.
Highest Point: 425 ft.


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WTA worked here: 2021

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With lovely Douglas-fir forest, wetlands, and a great network of trails, Island Center Forest is one of King County's best-kept secrets. Birds are abundant on the wetlands, and the forest is lush, with large, second-growth trees, a testament to the effort that several groups have put into managing this forest in order to restore the health of this area.

Thanks to work from the Friends of Island Center Forest, the Vashon Forest Stewards, Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, and Vashon-Maury Island Audubon, this nature preserve offers a network of forest trails to residents of (and visitors to) Vashon and Maury Island.

There are several park entrances; the closest to the town of Vashon is from SW 188th St, the turn-off for which is just a half-mile south of the intersection in "downtown" Vashon. From this trailhead, complete with picnic benches and shelters, as well as maps of the preserve, it's an easy walk to Mukai Pond, a lovely wetland ringed with beautiful, colorful willows.

The westside entrance is a wide spot in the road, but don't let the nearby restored Borrow Pit or the landfill next door stop you from heading into the park! After stopping to admire the great restoration work on the borrow pit, you'll soon be in lush forest--hushed, save for birds and squirrels. You will forget you're at a County park.

A third access point is the Cemetary Trailhead, accessible from 115th Ave SW off SW Cemetary Road. This trailhead is more convenient for island locals, while visitors to Vashon will probably opt for the 118th St. entrance.

There are 10 miles of trail at Island Center Forest, plenty of opportunity to wander to your heart's content. But be sure to take a map; there are some confusing intersections, though many are signed. And of course, as with any park adjacent to a neighborhood, there are many waytrails leading to homes. Having a map will help you avoid wandering into someone's backyard.

Some trails can be quite muddy on a rainy day, and during the rainiest months, it is not possible to approach the walks at Mukai Pond or Meadowdale Pond, due to high water. If this is the case, go back another time!

Watch for bicyclists and equestrians, and remember that this is a working forest, with recovery in process, so there may be trail closures.

WTA Pro Tip: Consider making this a bike trip! It costs less to take a bike on the Fauntleroy Ferry, and the RapidRide C Line makes a stop at the terminal. From the Vashon terminal, huff and puff up the admittedly steep hill or hop on the bus. The bus stops just north of town, where you can bike to the turnoff at 188th St SW. If you're riding the whole way, know that the turnoff is 5.4 miles from the terminal.

Trails in the park are bike friendly, or you can lock up your bike and hike. Afterwards, you can coast back through town, stopping for a bite to eat at Dragonfly Cafe and a browse at the bookstore. When you're ready to head home, hop on your bike and cruise back down to the ferry terminal.


Island Center Forest

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.4365, -122.4710 Open map in new window


Puget Sound and Islands -- Seattle-Tacoma Area

King County Parks

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Getting There

From West Seattle, take the ferry to Vashon Island. Drive through the town of Vashon and turn right onto 188th Street SW. In about a half-mile, see the brown King County Park sign on the right, and turn in to the parking lot.

Take Transit:

King County Transit routes 118 and 119 stop at the intersection of Vashon Highway SW and SW 188th St., which is a 0.6-mile walk from the trailhead at 188th St. 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


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Island Center Forest

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