The King County Parks Department has been working since late July in Big Finn Hill and Denny Parks in north Kirkland to restore trails and create new bridges, which frequent park-goers say will greatly increase accessibility within the 46-acre park.
Neil Ostroff is a park neighbor and member of the Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance who petitioned the county to work on the park. The group does low-level maintenance, but Ostroff said they lack the equipment and expertise for major renovations.
“There’s limits as to how much we can take on,” he said.
As he walked through the winding trails on a recent afternoon, he stopped and pointed to a weathered log laid across the stream.
Until now, it was the only way across that portion of the creek other than crossing on rocks.
The creek is low in the summer, but every spring after the high winter waters, the organization would have to find and reset the makeshift bridge.
Other sections of the old path wound around and under sagging trees and up steep embankments.
Improvements in the park include the creation of three bridges crisscrossing Denny Creek and adding a new portion of footpath.
Vegetation was also cut back from the paths, and workers solidified portions of the trail before Puget Sound’s wet season, said county spokesperson Doug Williams.
Williams said all the improvements had been on the department’s to-do list.
“It takes a while to get around to doing all the maintenance and upgrades that we want to do, and it was definitely time for Big Finn Hill to get a little TLC,” he said.
The county also has an eye for keeping costs down. The bridges were all constructed from downed trees in the park.
Williams said this is standard practice for county maintenance.
“Trees fall down, you’ll get wind fall or some other reason a tree comes down so it’s always nice to be able to use materials that are from either that particular site or other sites within the park system,” he said.
The park is also home to the largest fir tree in the county, named Sylvia, which was nearly 255-feet tall before a wind storm in 1993 knocked the top off. It has been growing for some 600 years.
The park is also home to a wide array of wildlife, ranging from bald eagles to barn owls and coyotes.
Crews should finish their improvements by Labor Day, Williams said.