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A great city park

340 acres of fun

Fort Steilacoom Park offers military families a great place to play and relax. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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The City of Lakewood prides itself on welcoming military members and their families to the community.

To that end, one of the city's 14 open spaces includes the 340-acre Fort Steilacoom Park.  Located at 8714 87th Avenue SW across from Western State Hospital, this popular park has a diverse history.

Beginning as a homesteader's farm in 1844, the area later became the site of Fort Steilacoom (1849 to 1868). The land was then purchased for use as an "Insane Asylum for the Washington Territory." The name was changed to the aforementioned Western State Hospital in 1915.

Across the street in what is today's park, hospital residents grew crops, managed orchards and raised dairy cattle. Some of the barns and orchards used then remain today.

After the City of Lakewood incorporated in 1996, the park grew to provide a diverse mixture of active and passive recreation.

Running through the woods and prairie-covered areas of the park is an extensive system of trails. Many of the local high school cross-country teams use these trails for their competitions, and national bike races have been featured as well. One of the most significant trails is the one-mile loop around Lake Waughop, a site where many individuals work out and enjoy nature.

Adding to this mixture of outdoor fun are manicured baseball, softball and soccer fields; a 15,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art playground featuring castles, forts, climbing walls, slides and swings; a 22-acre off-leash dog park complete with benches; two picnic shelters for a range of events; year-round restrooms; and a five-acre site for radio-controlled aircraft hobbyists.

Throughout the year, the city hosts events at the park such as SummerFest, a gathering that features live music, outdoor movies, great food, a Lego building contest, a car show and a triathlon.

To add to the park's usage, the city will soon begin construction on its Pavilion in the Park project. The $1.3-million facility will feature a multi-purpose room and performance area, storage rooms, a concrete platform for outdoor performances, pads for lighting and speakers, and a grass seating area with a landscaped block or concrete seat wall at the back. The project is projected for completion by mid-summer.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department maintains the grounds and works with individuals and organizations that would like to reserve a park facility. For more information, call 253.983.7887.

Fort Steilacoom Park is open seven days a week from dawn to dusk.

Welcome to Lakewood, and feel free to enjoy Fort Steilacoom Park.

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