Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review: Lincoln Park Playground (West Seattle, WA)

You know, I don't really remember much about the climbing structures at the southern end of West Seattle's Lincoln Park.  There were a couple, I think, one for the big kids, one for the small.  They weren't new or old, flashy or rundown.  They were just... there.  Really, they're fine, and I'm sure for the single-digit-aged residents of West Seattle, it's a playground that gets lots of use.  And the park itself is lovely, with a seawall providing the bikers and joggers and walkers lovely westward views of Puget Sound and lots of tall trees -- it seems to be the closest Seattle gets to Vancouver's Stanley Park.

What I want to talk about is the zip line.

I'm used to zip lines that are basically metal handles in a grooved metal track that's about 6-10 feet long (and maybe 6 feet off the ground).  Kids hang on, and if you're old enough you generate enough momentum when you jump to make it to the other end of the zip line.  Kids seem to like them enough, but as a parent it requires a lot of attention for the little ones who need to be pushed (that could be done by other kids) or want to do it even though they don't have the hanging arm strength.

It's possible that there are other zip lines like Lincoln Park's (right next to the playground), but I've never seen 'em.  The line itself is maybe 25 feet off the ground, and runs maybe 50 feet in length.  Suspended from the line is a rope swing whose seat is maybe 3 feet off the ground as you're zipping down the line.  You get on the platform (top picture) and the downward slope of the line gets you going in a fast (but not unreasonably so) manner down to the other end, where a big tire at the zip line puts a stop to your movement, flipping you at a 45-to-90-degree angle to the ground and sending you back up the line a little.

We spent a good hour there at the zip line with Miss Mary Mack, Little Boy Blue, and a couple of our local friends' kids.  Miss Mary Mack loved it -- she and our friends' kids spent time rating each others' runs down the line.  I went on a few runs with Little Boy Blue, but he was also able to do it himself.  It requires kids to cooperate (because it's hard to get on the swing at the top without somebody steadying it), it has some danger (but not too much), and gives kids a sensation they don't normally get, that of flying.

I'm not sure the zip line is so awesome that I'd recommend making it a part of a Seattle visit.  But I'm not so sure that I wouldn't recommend it, either.

What: Lincoln Park Playground
Where: 8011 Fauntleroy Way SW / Seattle, WA 98136 (map)
Parking: A couple lots, one bigger, one smaller.  Look like they often get packed.  Also served by bus.
Amenities: Rustic bathrooms down the hill, a bunch of shade from the trees, ramadas.  The playground and zip line are dug in a bit, surrounded by ledges, so decent places to sit.  No services nearby (unless you count the ferry).
Bottom Line: Zip line!  Zip line!  Zip line!

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