Let’s be real: salmon are not cute or cuddly. They are not as glamorous as eagles, bears or orcas. But once you know their story, and realize that those eagles, bears, orcas, and countless other animals – even the forest itself – depend on salmon for survival, then it’s easy to see them for the awe-inspiring creatures they are.
Right now is the spawning season, where salmon make an incredible journey from the open oceans to the inland creeks and rivers where they were born. Kids find it exciting to see these big, colorful fish up close, which lets them connect with the plight of salmon and the amazing role they play in our ecosystem. Below are several King County waterways where you’re likely to spot salmon. Some sites even have naturalists stationed there to educate visitors on the salmon life cycle.
Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, Seattle (Ballard). Mid June through early Oct. Salmon can be seen jumping the fish ladder, as well as in the underwater viewing windows.
Duwamish River, Tukwila. Aug. through Nov. Two good spots are North Wind’s Weir, 2914 S. 112th St., and Codiga Park, 12585 50th Pl. S.
Longfellow Creek, West Seattle. Oct. through Dec. Start at Dragonfly Garden (28th Avenue S.W. and S.W. Dakota Street) and walk the trail south along the creek.
Cedar River, Renton area. Naturalists are on site 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends in Oct. at Renton Library (100 Mill Ave. S.), Cedar River Park (1717 S.E. Maple Valley Hwy), Cavanaugh Pond (S.E. 174th Avenue and Maple Valley Highway) and Landsburg Park and Dam (S.E. 252nd Place and Landsburg Road S.E., Ravensdale).
Piper’s Creek, Seattle (Carkeek Park). Naturalists are on site 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends from Nov. 5 through Dec. 4. A salmon homecoming celebration with family activities will take place Nov. 20, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sammamish River Trail, Redmond. Sept. and Oct. Check the area south of the 85th Street Bridge.
Issaquah Creek, Issaquah. Walk the boardwalk at Lake Sammamish State Park to see fish migrating up the creek through Oct. Discover Pass required for parking.
Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Issaquah. Docents will lead drop-in hatchery tours weekends through Nov. 20 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Bear Creek, Redmond. Late Sept. through mid Nov. Take the R.O.S.E. trail located behind Keep It Simple Farm.
Kelsey Creek and Coal Creek, Bellevue. It’s possible salmon will be seen here in Oct.; check website for updates.
Bear Creek, Woodinville. Where the Tolt Pipeline crosses Mink Road N.E. is where to spot salmon in Oct. Volunteers with Water Tenders will be at the site 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 5 and 12, and 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 8-9 and 15-16.
Ebright Creek and Lewis Creek, Lake Sammamish. This is where you’ll see the smaller, red kokanee salmon, a native freshwater species. Find them early Nov. through late Jan. on Ebright Creek along the East Lake Sammamish Trail, and in Lewis Creek at 185th Place S.E. in Issaquah.
North Creek, Bothell. Sept. through Nov. at 19333 North Creek Pkwy, Bothell.
Whitney Bridge on the Green River, Auburn area. Sept. through Dec. from the bridge. Location is east of Auburn at S.E. Green Valley Road and 212th Way S.E.
Soos Creek Salmon Hatchery, Auburn area. This 100-year old hatchery at 13030 Auburn-Black Diamond Road is open daily, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and has fish returning Sept. and Oct.
Click here for salmon-viewing sites in Pierce County.