Project Description

12 Parks in 12 Weeks, Adventure No. 10:

Williams-Olson Park
Williams Lane

How to get there: Take Koura Road west off Miller, then head straight down the hill as it turns into Williams Lane and buttonhooks into the park. Bicyclists: Apply brakes on the way down. Apply positive thinking on the way back up.

Why you should go: Another park rich in island lore, Williams-Olson is the last sliver of a larger, storied island homestead dating to pioneer times.

Swedish emigres John Olson and Karin Persson Olson settled the land in 1890, turning to chicken-and-egg farming when their sloping tract above Big Manzanita proved ill-suited for crops. Family legend has it that if the Mosquito Fleet boat didn’t stop here on its way to downtown Seattle, John Olson would load up his skiff with eggs and row to market himself. No mean feat, starting from the island’s west side.

In that spirit, if not degree of ambition, kayakers will find the park an excellent jumping-off point for excursions of their own. Trundle your boat across the lawn and down to the broad 8-acre tide flat and off you go, skimming across the quiet bay.

The view from the bluff above is narrow but stunning beneath blue skies – squint north and you can even make out the bridge at Agate Passage. Flanked by a pleasant orchard of apple and pear, the rolling lawn makes for great family picnicking, and you can get in a game of pickleball on the dedicated court. The wooded upland is blighted by a carpet of ivy thicker than ‘70s shag, but ongoing restoration efforts are returning it to a healthier state.

More change is coming, for the better. The park was established in 2007 with city Open Space funds as the last holdings of a once 60-acre homestead were parceled off for development. It was a good move, carving out precious public access on one of the island’s most picturesque bays.

The park has flown somewhat under the radar since then, but a recent Park District planning effort and support from the Williams-Olson clan should make it more of an island-wide draw. Proposed improvements include a picnic shelter, play area, restrooms and improved kayak storage at the shoreline.

But why wait? You may not paddle to Seattle, but at Williams-Olson Park you might find the same sensations that moved a pioneer couple, traveling westward across a continent, to finally stop and put down stakes. Didn’t we all.

Visit Williams-Olson Park, post a few photos to Instagram tagged #12in12biparks, and you might win a prize.