Children’s Discovery Forest

The Children’s Discovery Forest is a long-term project focused on protecting a second-growth forest within the Lake Wilderness Arboretum for children and their families to enjoy as a natural playscape.

Nestled adjacent to the Tribal Life Trail, the Children’s Discovery Forest includes a network of trails among snowberry and salal, vine maple trees for climbing and swinging, a fairy garden hidden in oregon grape, wildlife trees and habitats for birds and animals, holes for digging, native plants for foraging, as well as natural loose parts for on-going play opportunities.

We encourage families and children to visit often throughout the seasons, pack a picnic, and enjoy the forest with all their senses. Please remember to respect the plants, animals, and insects in the area and observe all signs. We are a pack-it-in and pack-it-out play area. Pets are also welcome, as long as they are picked up after and under control. Thank you for keeping our forest and gardens beautiful for others to enjoy as well.

The easiest way to find us is to map The Lake Wilderness Arboretum; 22520 SE 248th Street, Maple Valley, WA. Approaching the Arboretum along 248th, stay straight and take the left-hand gravel driveway (the paved road wll take you to the Lake Wilderness Lodge.) Follow the gravel road and you will find parking on your right-hand side. From the meadow, find the large Totem Pole. The entrance is the pathway directly to the right.

Hours: Monday-Friday 12:00pm-8:00pm, Saturday-Sunday 8:00am-8:00pm

Phase One: The Space
In 2013, Greenplay Northwest was granted permission as stewards and caretakers of the Children’s Discovery Forest. In the early years, our main goal was to watch how children and families played and interacted in the space.  We asked ourselves: “How can we learn what children and adults want and need in this forested area? And how can we make sure that what we create becomes a vital public space? Using our observations over the course of two years, we learned where children played, what they played, and how they got there. From this data, we engaged volunteers in the community to begin removing invasive plants, clearing pathways, and making the area accessible from the meadow and the nursery.

Phase Two: The Shelter
Volunteers from Maple Valley’s Make A Difference Day, parents and children of our Little Sparrows Forest School, and the Maple Valley Fire Department came together to re-purpose and build a covered shelter for use during heavy rain or inclement weather. In the summer of 2017, we plan to add donated windows, benches, and storage shelves, as well as rain gutter and catchment system.

Phase Three: Community Education
As the Discovery Forest lends itself to more and more visitors, we will be developing a long-term plan for protecting the plants and trees in the area. A schematic design will be drafted incorporating both permaculture and food forest principles, as well as increasing accessibility by adding visitor benches, tree platforms, and educational signage. Additionally, we will be raising funds to create a sustainable Children’s Food Forest for community education and exhibit.

If  you’d like to volunteer your expertise, talents, or donate items on our organization’s Wish List, please contact  Susan Goodell, Garden Manager at the Lake Wilderness Arboretum.