South Shore's Outing to Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

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Team:
South Shore K-8
Date:
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Trip Types:
Canoeing, Hiking
Photos:
Plan:
For South Shore school's first ICO trip of the 2014-15 school year we're going spend the last Saturday of summer taking a group of 5th graders to explore Bellevue's Mercer Slough by land and by water. Mercer Slough is a 320-acre wetland park located at the junction of I-90 and I-405. Though only a few miles south of downtown Bellevue it is a tranquil and biologically rich nature preserve. In the morning we will go for a short hike along Mercer Slough's many trails. In the afternoon we will rent canoes at the nearby Enatai Beach Park and paddle up the water channel that runs through the heart of Mercer Slough and gives the park its name.

http://www.pacificsciencecenter.org/Mercer-Slough/slough

http://www.bellevuewa.gov/mseec.htm

http://parkstrails.myparksandrecreation.com/details.aspx?pid=471

http://www.canoe-kayak.com/locations/bellevue
Report:
For the last Saturday of summer we took a group of sixteen South Shore 5th graders to Bellevue's Mercer Slough park for a day of hiking and canoeing. Although the morning started off grey and cool the marine layer clouds burned off by lunchtime and we had beautiful summer sunshine for canoeing in the afternoon.

In the morning we started off our hike off from Mercer Slough’s Environmental Learning Center. We use the hike to talk a little about what a wetland is and the kind of animals that live there. On the hike we saw garter snakes, blue jays, and water skater bugs. We did a short hike around the Bellefields Trail loop, which took us to a bridge that crosses the Slough and is next to the blueberry fields. It was a good plan to reach the bridge because it was a landmark for the kids that connected the hike to the canoeing. In the afternoon we canoed under the same bridge. From the bridge you can see the tops of the skyscrapers in downtown Bellevue. Mercer Slough park’s 320 acres is an amazing nature area considering that it is in the heart of an urban area. It is wedged at the intersection of I-90 and I-405 and from the bridge you are less than two miles from the heart of downtown Bellevue.

After the hike we drove a short way to Enatai Beach park where we had lunch and then rented canoes. Enatai Beach is on Lake Washington a short distance from the entrance to Mercer Slough, which passes right under I-90. A slough (pronounced "slou") is defined as “a sluggish side channel of a river” or "a creek in a marsh" both of which describe Mercer Slough accurately. The slow moving waters are an easy and fun place for canoeing. During the canoeing the kids got to see a blue heron, turtles, and dragonflies.

=== Timeline ===

8:30am ICO volunteers and South Shore teacher meet for coffee to discuss the plan for the day

9:30am Meet the kids at the school

10:00am Leave South Shore for Mercer Slough

10:45am Start Hike from Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center

12:30pm End hike and drive over to Enatai Beach Park for lunch and to rent canoes

1:15pm Start canoeing from Enatai to Mercer Slough

3:30pm Return to Enatai Beach Park

4:00pm Leave Enatai

4:30pm Return to South Shore School
Suggestions:
You need a lot of adults for this trip because you will have two kids and one adult in every canoe. We had sixteen kids so we needed eight adult volunteers for this trip. We actually had nine adults on this trip. It’s helpful on the Mercer Slough trip to have one extra adult (usually the trip leader) in a one-person kayak so they can paddle between all the canoes to take photos and help coach the kids in canoes that are having trouble getting the hang of how to paddle a canoe.

Bellevue has a strong Master Naturalist Volunteer group who can lead the hike through the Slough. We did not know about this in time to schedule a the Master Naturalist for our trip, but in the future given enough notice a volunteer Master Naturalist can lead the hike and teach the kids about the slough.

Photos

We took a group of South Shore 5th graders to the Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue for a day of hiking and canoeing in the park.

http://www.pacificsciencecenter.org/Mercer-Slough/slough

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

We start the hike portion of the day at the Mercer Slough Environmental Learning Center.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

In the morning we hike the Bellefields loop trail.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

The park is crisscrossed with numerous creeks.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

Everyone is having fun on the hike.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

The Bellefields loop trail goes to a bridge across the slough.  Next to the bridge is a dock in the slough.  It was a good place for the kids to investigate the waters of the slough and the plant and animal life of the slough.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

Investigating the plant life of the slough.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

More investigation of the waters of the slough from the dock next to the bridge.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

Group photo on the bridge that crosses Mercer Slough.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

After the morning hike we drive from the Environmental Learning Center to Enatai Beach Park.  We have lunch at the park before starting the canoe portion of the trip.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

Enatai Beach Park on the eastern shore of Lake Washington is where we rent the canoes for our paddle through Mercer Slough.  Before we start canoeing the group listens to a safety lecture.  The I-90 bridge and Mercer Island are in the background.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

From Enatai Beach Park we have a short canoe trip to the entrance of Mercer Slough hugging the shoreline of Lake Washington.  The entrance to Mercer Slough passes under I-90.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

On the Lake Washington shoreline near the entrance to Mercer Slough we see a great blue heron.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

The entrance to Mercer Slough passes under I-90.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

While canoeing through Mercer Slough we spot painted turtles basking in the sunshine on logs.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

Canoeing through Mercer Slough.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

Canoeing through Mercer Slough.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

Canoeing through Mercer Slough.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

Canoeing through Mercer Slough.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

Canoeing through Mercer Slough.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

Canoeing through Mercer Slough we spot another painted turtle basking in the sunshine on a log.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

Canoeing through Mercer Slough in the afternoon we pass under the same bridge we hiked over in the morning.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

The weather was great and everyone had a fun time canoeing through Mercer Slough.

Sat., Sep. 20, 2014

[South Shore] Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue