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Wilburton Hill Park - Bones and Fishes

Wilburton Hill Park

On Sunday, we decided to take advantage of a brief break in the rain and go for a hike at Wilburton Hill Park. The park is located just east of downtown Bellevue, right next to Bellevue Botanical Gardens. It turned out to be a pretty nice day. We even got some sunshine! I made them wear their raincoats anyhow, because fashion.

Wilburton Hill Park walk with dogs

Even in winter, Washington forests are green. Although maybe a bit more sparse, a different set of foliage flourishes in the cold wet weather. Moss, lichen, liverworts, and ferns thrive in the winter, and keep the forests blanketed in green.

washington state evergreen forests

Liverworts do so well at Wilburton Hill Park that this small tree was completely covered in them. You’ll never guess what this liverwort is called. Tree-Ruffle Liverwort. OK, maybe that was kinda obvious.

Liverwort and Moss on a Tree

Although it looks like moss at first glance, a closer look shows the true structure. This might be less obvious. I’m a bryophyte nerd, after all.

Liverwort in Washington State Wilburton Hill Park

We found a bench tucked away in the trees and took a moment for a photo. It’s amazing how much easier this is when there are no people around to distract them!

Quincy And Bentley Hiking Dogs

They look similar to Sword Ferns, which are the single most common fern in this part of the state, but Licorice Ferns stay much smaller, and are primarily found growing on deciduous trees such as Maples, or on mossy rocks. They’re typically dormant during the dryer summers, and pop up again each fall when the weather turns wet.

Licorice Ferns at Wilburton Hill Park

If you look closer, Licorice Fern rhizomes can be seen under the moss and lichen. They grow across the surface of the tree, in long rhizomes that are just a little more narrow than a pencil. The Licorice Fern gets its name from the flavor of its rhizomes, which were used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans.

Rhizomes of Licorice Ferns Wilburton Hill Park

Fluffy moss and lichen coat nearly every surface of some plants. Lichen are actually symbiotic beings, made up of algae and fungus, to form an organism entirely different from its parts.

Mossy BranchThey say that you can tell which direction is north, based on which side of the tree the moss is growing on. That’s true in some places….

Wilburton Hill Park mossy trees

North —>

But not in others. These two trees are 20 feet apart.

Mossy Tree Washington State

North —>

Bracket mushrooms grow anywhere they get an opportunity. This species prefers dead wood, growing out of a Douglas Fir log in this case.

Mushrooms We only explored part of the park. I’m guessing less than half, so we’ll definitely have to go back for a more complete tour. I’m sure it’s a whole new world come springtime as well, so this hike is definitely worth a couple visits.

The paths are fairly well maintained and drain easily, so we didn’t have to deal with many puddles and it kept the mud to a minimum, all things considered. Wilburton Hill Park has a large parking lot with plenty of open spaces. There’s also a playground there, if you have kids to entertain as well.

Happy Cocker Spaniel Quincy And the dogs clearly loved it!

Bentley Pug Pekingese mix Hiking


  1. Carma Poodale

    Love the photos. That looks like a beautiful place to take a walk and just to get away from it all.

  2. Cathy Armato

    Gorgeous photos! Your dogs are adorable too!

  3. Carol Bryant

    Um so in addition to having adorable dogs, you have artistic talent and are a great blogger and photographer. Happy Holidays!


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