Mercer Island residents value their community for its small town feel just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of big city life in nearby Seattle and Bellevue. Pioneer Park, a 113 acre forest located on the south end of Mercer Island, is one of the many features that makes the island a special place to live. Unlike most parks in which trees are clear cut to make way for open grassy areas, Pioneer Park has been preserved in its natural, forested state since the city purchased the land in 1964. The result is a secluded woodland retreat with 6.6 miles of trails through alder, big-leaf maple, Douglas fir and old-growth cedar trees that islanders can enjoy close to home.
Pioneer Park is divided into three quadrants and is centered around the intersection of Island Crest Way and SE 68th St. Island Crest Way is the main road that connects the island’s quiet neighborhoods to interstate 90 on the north end, which makes the park easily accessible for residents of nearby cities.
Northwest Quadrant – Located across the street from the south end shopping center, the northwest quadrant is the most popular section of Pioneer Park. Primarily a deciduous forest, this quadrant is encircled by the NW Perimeter Trail, a wide, flat, hard-packed trail that is easily accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. The Fire Station Trail and the Horse Trail that run along the southern and eastern edges of this quadrant are both dedicated for equestrian use, while many other trails that crisscross the quadrant are perfect for hikers, bicyclists, and dogs on leashes. Parking for this quadrant is located on 84th Ave SE near the northern tip of the park.
Northeast Quadrant – Separated from the northwest quadrant by Island Crest Way, this section of the park has the most even mix of deciduous and coniferous trees and the most varied topography. The main path in this quadrant, Overlook Trail, cuts through the center of the park and runs along the edge of a ravine where it offers two overlook spots. From Overlook Trail, visitors can access Ravine Trail that leads down into the ravine, through wetlands and connects to a bridge that crosses a small stream. This is the only quadrant of the park not open to horses. Parking for this quadrant is located midway along SE 68th St.
Southeast Quadrant – This 40 acre quadrant, located south of SE 68th St, is designed for and primarily dedicated to equestrian use. Hikers, bicyclists, and dogs on leashes are also welcome on these trails, but must yield to horses and riders. The Mercer Island Saddle Club houses 20 horses on a five acre site located adjacent to Pioneer Park and their members are frequent users of the southeast quadrant horse trails. This quadrant consists primarily of Douglas fir trees. Parking is located on Island Crest Way just south of SE 68th St.
As a forested retreat a short drive from Seattle and Bellevue, with accessibility for hikers, bicyclists, dog owners, wheelchair users, horseback riders, and children in strollers, Pioneer Park embodies many of the qualities that make Mercer Island a great place to live.