After a long and wet winter, we’ve finally seen a couple of beautiful sunny days here in Renton, and that is why this week’s Great Escape is an outdoor one! This journey takes us back to the , but not for an indoor visit this time. The is a great starting point for a soothing jaunt along the .
Park your car at the Library and hop across the street to Jet City Espresso. When you get inside, take a minute or few to scope out the quirky décor, old pictures and comfy couches. Get your drink for there and relax for a few minutes, or take one to go while you walk.
Head back across the street and to the Library entrance, but keep going, and when you get to the end of the bridge, take a left to head down the trail to follow the river northwest toward Lake Washington. A right turn will take you all the way to Maple Valley. As that’s quite a walk, go ahead and head toward the lake; according to the mile markers placed by the city, it’s almost exactly three miles to the lake and back along the trail.
While you’re wandering the red-brick path and sipping your coffee, keep an eye out for river critters. Perhaps the most noticeable (besides the noisy mallard ducks) are the sockeye salmon in the fall; their bright red and green colors stand out from the river bottom in a brilliant display comparable to the fall colors on the trees. However, even on that stretch of river, between a major manufacturing plant and a major freeway, there is other wildlife to be found. Watch for beavers hunting new building materials, look up to the skies to scout for the Great Blue Heron that sometimes comes to fish, or even look for as they cruise the skies browsing for a “fast food” lunch.
The walkway will take you past the Renton Senior Center, Renton Stadium, and toward Boeing. During the daytime it’s possible to catch a glimpse of a new 737 as it’s rolled across one of the many bridges over the river from the manufacturing plant to the runway for its first flight. Every 737 in the world is assembled here in Renton, and the one you see today might be taking off in Australia in six months’ time.
Arriving at the lake itself provides you the option of a pleasant little park along the river or a nice boardwalk over the lake. Meander a bit as you notice the changes the river has undergone between the library and the lake. This entire area has been completely reshaped and rechanneled from its original course, but this particular part is a little more naturalized than the section up by the library. For more background on that subject, the Renton Library has some great books on the changes the river has undergone as the city has developed.
Enjoy your walk back, breathing deeply and reveling in the fact that even while sandwiched between the industry of airplanes and the industry of the freeway, here in Renton we have the opportunity to be surrounded by a plethora of natural beauty.