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New Bellevue Playground Is a Thrill for Families

Bridle Trails Valley Creek Park blends adventure with nature for all ages

Kate Missine
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Published on: May 21, 2024

Climbing structures at Bridle Valley Creek Trails Park playground in Bellevue
Photo:
Kate Messine

The early May weather couldn’t have cooperated more for the opening day of Bridle Trails Valley Creek Park in Bellevue if it had tried.

The sun shone down and temps climbed up to 80 degrees well before 11 a.m., adding to the buzz in the air as a crowd gathered in the shade of the picnic shelter for the grand opening celebration. Meanwhile, as families trickled in, kids took off to explore the shiny new playground, enticed by the vibrant green palette and array of adventurous equipment.

A project nine years in the making, the 1.65-acre park is a welcome community space to Bellevue’s woodsy Bridle Trails neighborhood. The property sits along 140th Ave. N.E. just south of the Bellevue Golf Course, abutting 5 acres of protected wetland to the east.

Climbing structures, rope bridges and ladders at Bellevue's Bridle Trails Valley Creek Park
Climb and explore the playground’s structures. Photo: Kate Missine

Adventurous, accessible play awaits on the playground

Facts out of the way, it was time to hit the true highlight — the playground, of course!

Designed with accessibility in mind, the playscape is set on a stretch of artificial turf, with lots of greens and wood accents designed to blend into the landscape. The features hit a good balance of some risky-play elements for a bit of a thrill, along with a few more chill areas for the laid-back crowd.

Climbing bridge on the Bellevue playground with green accents
Green accents invite kids to crawl across the bridge before sliding down the tunnel slide. Photo: Kate Missine

On one side sits the “adventure play” area: a unique forest of bamboo-like poles, studded with climbing platforms to traverse vertically or across. From there, a couple of hops take you to the main structure: a network of suspended climbers, cargo nets and bridges of varying challenge levels, anchored by cool geometric enclosed platforms that lend a futuristic edge. A bright green tunnel slide brings the thrill-seekers back down to Earth, where they can stretch out in the hammock, or check out the fun panels built into the base.

Two kids climbing bamboo-inspired poles at Bridle Trails Valley Creek Park
Bright green bamboo-like poles are perfect for climbing at Bridle Trails Valley Creek Park. Photo: Kate Missine

Playground fun for all ages

Not leaving the tiny tots out of the game, the big-kid structure links right up to a scaled-down version via another bridge floating just above the ground — a feature that I thought was cute for encouraging mixed-age play. The tot climber keeps the same edgy design style, with a playhouse, miniature climbing platform and slide. Wrapping up the play area are a small but fast-spinning merry-go-round, and two rope-saucer swings at the playground’s far end.

A rope ladder leads down to a floating bridge, connecting the big-kid play area to the tot play structure
Climb down the rope ladder and cross the floating bridge to the smaller tot play area. Photo: Kate Missine

“We tried to provide a mix of challenges, both for little children and youth that’s a little older,” Michael Shiosaki, director of Bellevue’s Parks and Community Services, told us, “and of course, lots of natural elements to blend with the nature that’s part of Bridle Trails.”

A place in Bellevue to picnic

Further afield, a grassy lawn invites picnic blankets or games, surrounded by a gravel loop trail and a native garden. There are a couple of benches along the trail, with more seating under the decent-sized picnic shelter across from the play area, offering respite from sun or rain. Restrooms and a drinking fountain can be found by the park entrance, along with a 12-spot parking lot (keep in mind that once it fills up, that is it — no street parking is available nearby).

Small child plays lawn games at Bridle Trails Valley Creek Park
Play lawn games or enjoy a picnic at Bridle Trails Valley Creek Park. Photo: Kate Missine

What’s nearby on the Eastside

Set at the intersection of Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond, Bridle Trails is a convenient landing spot to explore what the Eastside has to offer. Hungry? A few minutes’ drive away is the bustling Overlake district, packed with tasty multicultural eats. Some kid-pleaser faves are 85°C Bakery Cafe for Asian-style buns or the juicy xiao long bao at Supreme Dumplings. Or you can hit up Five Guys for a fail-safe burger and fries.

Looking to do some park-hopping? Head over to sprawling Grass Lawn Park nearby — home to three separate play areas, a splash pad and one of the Eastside’s tallest climbers. Budding skaters can hit up the skate park at Highland Park. Or take a respite from the outdoors, with a hair-raising go-kart ride at K-1 Speed or a vertical summit at Edgeworks.

If you go to Bridle Trails Valley Creek Park …

Find it: Bridle Trails Valley Creek Park is located at 4432 140th Ave N.E. in Bellevue.

Open hours: The park is open dawn to dusk.

Parking: A 12-spot parking lot is available, with one ADA spot; no street parking.

Facilities: A restroom and drinking fountain are located by the park entrance.

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