After 30 years on the Eastside, and 6 in Kirkland, I had never been to McAuliffe park. I’d driven by on 116th countless times, but from the road, it didn’t look like much, so I never stopped in. But then on the Kirkland Rocks Facebook page, people would often post that they’d hidden beautiful painted rocks at McAuliffe for kids to find. So, finally we went. And this park is a unique gem!
It’s at 10824 NE 116th Street; halfway between Totem Lake and Juanita Village.
It’s 11.6 acres, with lots and lots of wide open lawn, shady orchard trees to throw out a picnic blanket below, a playground, picnic tables, nature trails, a community pea patch with 35 plots, an antique barn, 2 windmills, and lots of ancient rusted farm equipment and old gas station memorabilia to explore.
The community learning garden features permaculture principles, annual vegetables grown with organic practices, a new rain garden, and water and resource conservation. The Tilth Alliance offer classes at the park.
The property was homesteaded in 1877, and only two families owned it between that time and when the Kirkland Parks department acquired it in a series of purchases from the 1990’s through 2017. Read more (and see more pictures) on Active Rain, and in the Master Plan report. (Note: the master plan from 2005 had grand visions for the site, but it does not appear most of them were implemented.
We visited in the midst of coronavirus season, and there were maybe 30 people we saw there, spread out over 12 acres, so easy to socially distance! The playground was closed when we were there, due to quarantine, but people were hard at work in their plots in the community garden, and a few families were relaxing in the shade. It struck me as a great place to take 3 – 8 year old children where the parent(s) could sit and relax and the kids could run quite a ways, and play while still being safely in the parents’ sight. There’s even some nice low climbing trees.
It’s a park well worth visiting when you’re in the mood for a little wandering around and exploring or a little sitting under a tree reading a good book.