Friday, October 23, 2015

Aparkolypse 2015: Maple Mini Park

Image courtesy of City of Lynnwood
In our discover tour of parks this summer, we discovered these municipalities' love of combining utilities/infrastructure areas with a park. Maple Mini Park is probably the most flagrant example of this: it's pretty much a backyard playset with major drainage. We bet you can't wait to take your kids on down to the "stormwater detention facility"! The official site indicates that the area is maintained by the Public Works department (and therefore not Parks and Recreation), which is a bad omen.

Getting There

For what it's worth, Google Maps doesn't recognize this as an actual park. There are places to park along Maple Road, but we recommend looping around to 179th Pl SW and parking in the cul-de-sac. At the corner of Maple Rd and 42nd Pl W, you'll see this inviting sign: 
It just screams, "Children, come play here!"

Does a drainage ditch count as an amenity? There is a bench and a picnic table, neither of which exactly impress. The picture at the top of this post does not lie: there has definitely not been any development since 2000.

Play Area

We're certain this is the same setup as built in 1989, during Lynnwood's apparent "ugly wood, beige, and awful blue" phase (see also Pioneer Park). You and your children may well enjoy the kitty litter play surface. There's a little bit of field to run around in, assuming you keep one eye on the ditch.



Do we need to even write this section? We hope Maple Mini serves better as a stormwater detention facility than it does as a park. Unless you live on this cul-de-sac, we recommend you instead go to one of the half-dozen much better Lynnwood parks which are within a five minute drive.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Aparkolypse 2015: Stadler Ridge Park

Photo by City of Lynnwood
If you were to get bored at Stadler Ridge Park, you could drive the two minutes north to Spruce Park, or two minutes south to Pioneer Park, or six minutes over to Alderwood Mall (also a single-minute drive to Wilcox Park, North Lynnwood Park, and a few others). But chances are you and your small group would be too busy enjoying the relative peace and quiet, the unique play experience, and the natural setting in this small and distinctive park.

At the park you can read about the illustrious logging history of Alderwood Manor and the Stadler family who were among the primary settlers (and current residents) but there are better things to do with your time here. Stadler Ridge incorporates many elements of current park design, including the mixture of landscaping/non-landscaping, a walking trail, wood-looking artificial picnic tables, and themed play structures.


There are 4-5 large parking spaces marked off on the side of the road, including a handicap permit spot. We don't recommend hosting your family reunion or church picnic here. There aren't any bathrooms/Sanicans or plumbing of any kind. We also recommend shooting accurately at the basketball hoop (with the behated backboard design); errant shots may roll downhill into some very prickly weeds. We decided to stick to dribbling practice and layups.

As is standard for the parks of our tour, there is a walking trail around the park, though the rocky and hilly parts make it stroller-unfriendly. The park's official website describes a walking trail of ".2 mi" and a "nature trail" (maybe the wooded part?) of ".14 mi", so those of you planning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail might find a more suitable training ground elsewhere.

A reminder that the beach shelters on Lost were built by set designers, not regular people

The coolest aspect of the park is the three tiered slides going from the top of the hill down to the main play area.

There is a fairly wide play/picnic field with a handful of benches along the path around it, but steep slopes on the side make for somewhat perilous play. When we were there this summer, there were a ton of bees buzzing about the clover (or whatever flying/stinging/buzzing insects that we're too poor of a naturalist to identify), so we had to steer clear of them.

In putting together this post, we realized that we hadn't taken any close-up pictures of the play structure (the kids weren't interested in it that day), so we've borrowed these two images from


We spent a few hours here and had a great time. The basketball hoop setup is ill thought-out and feels tacked on. None of the park is really all that friendly to toddlers and small kids - the main play structure and the climb to get up to the slides require a lot of work, and the slope around the edge of the play field are a real tumbling/toy rolling away hazard. For the kids older than that, it's a fun place to be active. Visually, it's a satisfying blend of the natural and man-made, immaculate, and really cool to see those slides down the slope of the hill. Lynnwood has made good use of a few hilly lots and transformed them into a beautiful and fun refuge.