Address: 1201 Lake Washington Blvd. N., Renton
With its lakefront setting that’s hugely popular for boating and swimming, Gene Coulon Park seems like it would be destined only for summer fame. Don’t be caught in that trap: this is one of the best area parks for winter walks.
The park’s long, narrow shape gives visitors more than a mile of shoreline along Lake Washington, all of it on a fantastic paved path. Winter is quiet here with only anglers, bird watchers and the type of people who walk in any weather. In addition to great bird watching (look for mallards, bald eagles, hawks and much more), you’ll find a wide variety of trees with helpful labels for identifying the species. The walk is varied, and you’ll pass several mini bays with changing views.
Speaking of views, near the center of the park take the stairs up to the top of the two-story pavilion where you’ll have a wide vista of the whole park as well as Renton, South Seattle and the lake. Then stroll out onto the 900-foot-long pier that has two unique floating picnic docks each with a table for a fantastic lunch spot.
While you’re on the dock, picture what this area looked like more than 100 years ago. While not of the floating picnic variety, piers stood in the early 20th century to support the region’s coal industry.
The park draws huge crowds in the summer when people arrive by car and boat to swim, picnic, play horseshoes and volleyball and relax on the shore. One of the area’s best playgrounds is at the south end of the park and also includes adult exercise equipment.
Gene Coulon was a former Renton parks director, who I’m sure would have been pleased to see how many people enjoy the park that was named in his honor.
#478 (Visited 2/3/16)