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

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South Shore K-8
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Trip Types:
Canoeing, Hiking
For South Shore school's first ICO trip of the 2016-17 school year we're going spend the first Saturday of fall taking a group of 4th 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.
Canoeing Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue

The first Saturday of autumn we took a group of eleven South Shore elementary school students to Bellevue's Mercer Slough park for a day of hiking and canoeing. Rain had been forecast, but we got lucky and caught a weather window and the day was warm and often sunny.

In the morning we started off our hike off from Mercer Slough’s Environmental Learning Center. 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 is a good plan to reach the bridge because it is a landmark for the kids that connects 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’s 320 acres of woods, meadows, and water is a remarkable urban resource. 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 blue herons, turtles, dragonflies, and lots and lots of ducks. The kids were really into the canoeing and we were able to paddle the whole Mercer Slough loop, a first for South Shore elementary.

=== 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

10:30am Start Hike from Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center

12:00pm End hike and drive over to Enatai Beach Park for lunch and to rent canoes

1:15pm Start canoeing from Enatai to Mercer Slough

4:15pm Return to Enatai Beach Park

4:00pm Leave Enatai

4:30pm Return to South Shore School
You need a lot of adults for this trip because the canoes take 3 people, so you will have 2 kids and 1 adult for every canoe.