Hylebos Wetland Park

Thursday, October 12, 2017

This luscious wetland area is very close to my home.  I had been driving by a very prominent sign for it at least three times a week for several years.  I had always meant to stop and explore, but never seemed to take the time.  Today I stopped!

Right next to the parking lot is a big old log house and I thought that was the extent of this Hylebos Wetland Park, maybe with a little creek and a few trees behind the log cabin.  I allotted 45 minutes to see it.

Boy did I completely misjudge what there was to see and the time I would need to see it.  There are a number of paths and boardwalks back into the woods, two small lakes, and lots of purpose-planted native trees and smaller plants here, so I’ll need to come back later and explore the rest.  But for now, I’ll share with you what I saw here today on just one leg of the paths/boardwalks.  It was really pretty.

Western Red Cedar (above), thuja plicata, is not a true cedar but is a member of the cypress family.  It seems to grow everywhere in the Pacific Northwest (and Canada), from Oregon to southeast Alaska.  It commonly grows to more than 200 feet tall and can live well over 1,000 years.

Some Pacific Coast tribes refer to themselves as “people of the red cedar” because of their dependence on the tree.  The wood has been used for constructing housing, totem poles, masks, utensils, boxes, boards, instruments, canoes, and ceremonial objects.  The tree’s roots and bark were used for baskets, bowls, rope, clothing, blankets, and rings.

Western Red Cedar is highly allergenic.  Woodworkers, loggers, and people with cedar in their homes (furniture or art or the structure of their homes) have had adverse reactions to it.

Coast Redwood (below), sequoia sempervirens, commonly called California Redwood, are the sole living species of the genus Sequoia in the cypress family.  They can live up to 1,800 years and are among the oldest living things on earth.  They are the tallest living trees on earth, approaching 400 feet in height.

They are native to central and northern coastal California and the southwestern coastal corner of Oregon.  They are not native to Washington.  This particular tree was donated to the Hylebos Wetland area in 1985.  Even 32 years ago, this had to be one BIG TREE!


Jewelweed (above and below), impatiens capensis.  The juice of the leaves and stems is used as a remedy for skin rashes, including poison ivy, by Native Americans and by western medicine.


Rabbit (above and below).  I read that there are so many varieties and cross-breeds of rabbit species that it is sometimes difficult to determine which one a specific animal is.  This one looked simply like a pet rabbit.  Domesticated rabbits are not uncommon all over North America.  This one held stock still for quite a while, so I suspect it thought it was hiding.  🙂


An old log with mushrooms (above and below).  The taxonomy of everything in these mushroom photos is unknown to me.  Although, from photos on the internet, I might guess that these mushrooms are pholiota squarrosoides.  They don’t look square to me!  But I bet that’s not what squarrosoides means.  Do any of you readers know?


At the end of that path and boardwalk was this small lake with frogs and ducks (and one rabbit nearby) and likely lots of other critters.  There were benches on an observation platform just a foot or so above the water.  I sat and watched and enjoyed everything for a bit, then headed back home.

What a gem … again, right in the middle of the cities of Federal Way and Tacoma.

There are more paths and boardwalks to explore in this Hylebos Wetland Park, with lots more to see.  I’ll be back!

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