Kirkland's Castle Park. Credit: Vicky McDonald
Wouldn't kids love it if every time you made them go on a nature walk, you stumbled upon a wonderful, magical playground hidden in the woods?
Families can make this dream come true at Kirkland's fantastic North Rose Hill Woodlands Park. I'd heard about this park and that it is commonly referred to as “Castle Park.” That sounded enticing to me and fun for my kids, so my family and I went to check it out.
Fair warning: This park takes a bit of effort to reach. There is no designated parking lot, so you’ll need to park near one of the park's entrances and walk in to find the playground. We chose to park along N.E. 100th St. near the intersection with 126th Ave. N.E. Note: Signs at the park say not to park along 124th Ave. N.E., though it's the closest road to the playground.
It was about a 7-minute trek through the wetlands to find the playground. Thankfully, it’s a picturesque and stroller-friendly wooded trail and there are signs detailing the native species living in the wetlands. For us, the walk to the playground helped build up lots of excitement.
When we finally spied the playground through the trees, my kids squealed with delight and bounded over to the castle that earns this park its nickname. The play structure is made up of towers, turrets and secret passageways. It was apparently designed with the help of some local children and all that kid creativity shines through.
For kids who like fantasy and imaginative play, there is certainly plenty of fuel for the imagination here. On our visit, we discovered kids in all kinds of hiding places: underneath the castle, between the bridges and squeezed into towers. This would be a great spot for children to sport their favorite cape, crown, fairy wings or other dress-up attire.
There are two designated areas, one with a larger castle structure, for older kids, with towers and a large green tube slide; and another smaller structure with small slides and climbing areas for toddlers. There is also a section on the side with a few basic swings, a bucket swing for babies and a tire swing.
This playground has lots of places to climb, with monkey bars for kids of all different heights and a fun dragon wall that fits perfectly with the theme. Tarp-like bridges invite clambering and miniature doors beckon little ones to pass through.
Overall, it’s not a high-octane playground, but it charms with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. It's ideal for the younger set and would be a great spot for a monster game of hide-and-seek.
What I love about this playground is that it’s perfectly contained — just like a fortress, in fact. Plus, there are plenty of benches for parents so you can easily keep an eye on the kids. It would be an ideal meet-up spot for parents with toddlers.
I noticed that some of the playground equipment is looking a bit worn and faded, but it still seemed impressive to my kids. On closer inspection, it looks like they have been replacing some of the older wooden structures with newer plastic parts, so it felt safe and well-maintained.
There are picnic tables and benches scattered around the exterior of the playground and one or two of them are beneath trees if you need some shade. Sadly, the restroom facilities consist of one Honey Bucket, which is hard when you have toddlers. Bring lots of wipes and hand sanitizer.
If you go...
Find it: North Rosehill Woodlands Park is located at 9930 124th Ave. N.E. in Kirkland. Important note: Google Maps shows a playground in the northeast corner of the park. This is not the playground known as "Castle Park." Find Castle Park to the southeast of the intersection of 124th Ave. N.E. and N.E. 97th St. (though you can't park along 124th Ave. N.E. — see below).
Parking: There is street parking available on N.E. 100th St.and 128th Ave. N.E. For safety reasons, the city of Kirkland does not allow parking along 124th Ave. N.E.
Facilities: Honey Bucket available across from the playground behind a small wooden shelter.
Need a snack in Kirkland?
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