Length: About a mile each way (continues south across Southwest Grady Way under Interstate 405); connects to the west with the Waterworks trail, which features public artwork amid an innovative water-reclamation site.
Level of difficulty: Level-to-gentle paved surface.
Setting: Springbrook Creek flows through the Black River Riparian Forest, one of the last protected lowland, deciduous riparian forests remaining in Puget Sound. The site marks the remains of the historic Black River, which once flowed out of Lake Washington south into the Duwamish River. The now-vanished river was a major highway for the Duwamish Indians, and several of their settlements were built on its banks. With the completion of the Ship Canal in 1917, the level of Lake Washington was lowered almost 9 feet, cutting off the river's source.
Highlights: The trail offers a welcome paved path in the midst of the rainy season, and in late summer, blackberry bushes along the trail provide a welcome snack. Large cottonwood trees to the west in the Black River Riparian Forest host one of the largest heron colonies in Washington.
Restrictions: Leash and scoop laws in effect. Trail is popular with cyclists as well as walkers. In this somewhat secluded area, if you go alone, stay alert.
Directions: From northbound Interstate 405, take Exit 1, turn left off the exit ramp onto West Valley Highway, cross under I-405 and turn right on Southwest Grady Way. From southbound I-405, take Exit 1, turn right off the exit ramp on Interurban Avenue and turn left at the next light on Southwest Grady Way. In .6 mile, turn left on Oakesdale Avenue Southwest. In .5 mile, you'll see the marked Springbrook trailhead on the right; go several blocks farther to reach a small parking lot marked, "Black River Riparian Forest."
Bus: Metro Route 163 travels along Southwest Grady Way. 206-553-3000 or transit.metrokc.gov.
For more information: 425-430-6600 or www.ci.renton.wa.us/commserv/parks.
Cathy McDonald, a Renton-based freelance writer, is a regular contributor to Northwest Weekend.