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Review: Big Rock Park, a Nature Playscape and Adventure Playground in Sammamish

With whimsical features and opportunities to create, this one-of-a-kind natural playscape invites imaginative play

Kate Missine

Published on: May 29, 2016

Slide built into a hill at Big Rock Park
Slide built into a hill at Big Rock Park. Photo credit: Kate Missine

Crawling through a hill, jumping into a human-sized nest or building a log cabin are just some of the whimsical, imaginative adventures awaiting kids (and adults!) at Sammamish’s charming, recently upgraded Big Rock Park.

Tucked away off S.E. 8th Street in central Sammamish, Big Rock Park has been in development since 2011. With the first of the three phases now completed and open to the public, the highlight of the 51-acre park is the new natural playscape, the first of its kind on the Eastside.

Swapping colorful plastic equipment for organic materials such as logs, stones and branches, the redesigned park encourages creative, open-ended play where children can engage with the environment in a safe, fun-filled setting. From the entrance, the play area blends into the rolling meadows, and the open landscape is easily overseen from the seating area above — handy for keeping an eye on roaming tots!

Big Rock Park wetlands. Photo credit: Kate Missine
Big Rock Park viewing platform of the wetlands. Photo credit: Kate Missine

The star attraction is the thrill-tastic zipline, which, on the day we visited, drew a continuous lineup of eager riders. Small warning: With a sizeable bump at the end, it’s not for the timid – prepare kids to hold on! Other cool additions to the playground include a stepper made of tree stumps, and a pile of sanded wood rounds to be transformed, like oversized Lincoln Logs, into fantastical structures of your fancy — these kept my 6-year-old avidly constructing for the good part of an hour.

Building at Big Rock Park. Photo credit: Kate Missine
Building at Big Rock Park. Photo credit: Kate Missine

On the other side of the playground, kiddos can zoom down a slide built into a hillside, or climb the surrounding stacked stone wall. Nearby earth mounds are hard to resist rolling down, and one even hides an Alice-in-Wonderland style crawl tunnel running right through.

Big Rock Park. Photo credit: Kate Missine
Big Rock Park giant bird's nest. Photo credit: Kate Missine

The park itself invites an easy walk through the mostly flat trails that weave around the wetlands and through forest; look for the big rock that the park is named after, a large boulder deposited during the last ice age. 

As you come out from the trails to the picnic area (with a short boardwalk), also watch for the giant bird’s nest and a Sasquatch made from woven branches — you will feel like you’ve wandered right into an oddball fairy tale.

Any cons?

While unique, the park, and especially the playground, is on the smaller side and the playground doesn't include any challenging play structures or swings. Older kids may not stay entertained for very long.

Best for which ages?

The playground is ideal for the very young toddler to early-elementary crowd, while the park itself will appeal to the whole family.

Big Rock Park. Photo credit: Kate Missine
Horse viewing across the street from Big Rock Park. Photo credit: Kate Missine

Insider tip

Walk across the street from the park’s parking lot to see goats, llamas and cows hanging out in the fields at a private farm, and watch horses graze on the pasture adjacent to the park. Open fencing gives a great chance to get up close and observe the animals in their natural surroundings. But please be respectful and remind kids these critters are not to be petted or fed.

Nearby bonus

Extend your outdoor outing with Ebright Creek Park just a couple of minutes’ drive away, featuring a huge playground with a variety of daring structures, plus a large picnic shelter, trails, a creek and sport courts.

If you go …

Big Rock Park

Address: Big Rock Park, 21805 S.E. 8th St., Sammamish, WA 98075 

Parking tip: A parking lot is open at S.E. 8th St.

Hours: Dawn to dusk

Restrooms: There is only a portable toilet for now, next to the playground.

Cost: Free

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