Idyllic fun on Lake Sammamish
3650 W. Lake Sammamish Pkwy., Redmond
Idlywood Beach Park,
built on the site of a popular vacation cottage resort called
Chandler’s Gateway Grove, boasts a naturally serene setting on Lake
Sammamish and a brand new playground. The park draws huge crowds on
summer weekends but autumnal visitors will find ample space to play and
enjoy the changing colors of the leaves.
During the 1920s, Lake Sammamish was a popular summer vacation spot for
families escaping Seattle’s urban grit. In 1927, the road between
Issaquah and the west side of the lake was graded and paved, offering
easier access to the ever-increasing number of area residents who owned
a car, and stimulating the development of many small vacation cottage
rental businesses. Shady Beach, Pete’s Place, Idylwood, Vasa Park,
Shamrock Cottage and Gateway Grove all offered respite from city
Gateway Grove was developed in
1927 by the Charles Enis family, which built about a dozen cottages as
rental properties, along with a boathouse, swimming dock and
playground. The property changed hands in 1944 and again in 1951 when
it was sold to Chandler and Myrtle Pickering, who spruced up the resort
with a 40-foot slide and a high diving board. During the 1950s, water
skiing, sailing and motor boat racing were popular activities for the
guests at Gateway Grove.
King County purchased Gateway Grove and its neighboring resort,
Idylwood Beach, in 1969. The two properties were combined to form
Idylwood Beach Park, which King County gave to the City of Redmond in
250 feet of Lake Sammamish shoreline form the park’s eastern edge, with
a view of forested hills beyond Marymoor Park and Sammamish Slough to
the north. Idylwood Creek flows through the center of the park and
drains into the lake. Wetlands in the park are being restored and will
provide habitat for wildlife, including coho salmon and coastal
cutthroat trout. A large grassy meadow, surrounded by large Western Red
Cedar, maple, chestnut, hemlock, spruce and black locust trees, rolls
gently toward the sandy lake shore, which is dotted with picnic tables.
The playground features one large and one
small compound play structure, two slides, and both tot and belt
swings. The underside of the larger play structure is tall enough to
play in without bumped heads, and a simulated bat cave beneath the
climber reinforces this use. Climbable, touchable sculptures of a giant
frog and a giant fish invite creative play. A covered shelter in the
middle of the play equipment makes picnics possible even on rainy days.
A great interpretive sign near the beach gives kids a chance to examine
vintage photographs of the park in its resort days and learn more about
Chandler Pickering. Other signs explain wetland restoration activities
now underway throughout the park.
A nice wide path leads from the parking lot through the meadow to the
beach and branches off to the playground. Restrooms are
wheelchair-accessible and both men’s and women’s have changing tables.
The playground has excellent wheelchair and stroller access and the
park’s unusually large number of well-chosen ground level play features
make it a terrific choice for kids of all abilities.
The Redmond Town Center shopping center lies 21/2 miles north of the
park and offers numerous kid-friendly food options. The Redmond REI
store, complete with climbing pinnacle in case the kids still have
energy left after the playground, is located within Redmond Town
Center. (16495 N.E. 74th St. 425-867-0808.) Victor’s Coffee Company is
a quieter option for soups, panini, yummy baked goods and fresh-roasted
coffee. (7993 Gilman St. 425-881-6451.) The Redmond Regional branch of
the King County Library is nearby at 15990 N.E. 85th, 425-885-1861, www.kcls.org
Paula Beckeris a staff historian for www.HistoryLink.org and a mother of three.