Big Rock Park launches nature play features

Big Rock Park launches new nature play features at Saturday Grand Opening

SAMMAMISH, Wash. – The City of Sammamish celebrated the completion of Phase I improvements at Big Rock Park with a Grand Opening on Saturday, May 21st, beginning with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. and continuing with family-friendly park activities and environmental education programs throughout the day until 2 p.m.

Based on cognitive science, Big Rock Park harnesses northwest ecology and geology into nature play activities that foster brain development, motor development and improvements in attention, investigation and perception.

The result of a lively, interactive and intellectual design process, Big Rock Park Phase I fulfills a unique cognitive development program that utilizes contemporary scientific thought to identify ways that play, exploration and nature can stimulate and enhance age-specific cognitive development.

On a site with puzzling glacial erratics and a multi-layered history, new play activities and explorations introduce movement throughout the landscape and contact with rock, wood, leaves and water in ways that stimulate curiosity and investigation into how our world is assembled.

In addition to the beautiful trails within the park, new features include improved parking, informal gathering spaces, boardwalks and landscaping. The park also features the City’s first nature play environment with a zipline, hillslide, earth mounds and tunnel, rock climber and plenty of open space for creative and imaginative play, plus a life-size human nest built by volunteers. The nest project was sponsored by Sammamish Parks and Recreation Department, Sammamish Arts Commission and ArtEAST.

Big Rock Park Phase I began in the fall of 2014 with the selection of ELM Environments who led the design process supported by Signal Architecture + Research, Newton Street Study Group cognitive scientists, and Robert Foley Associates civil engineer. Building upon a master plan prepared by Sammamish Parks and Recreation, the design evolved through a series of workshop explorations into nature’s cognitive and educational benefits. The project was constructed by Paul Brothers, Inc., beginning in 2015 and concluding in the spring of 2016.

As a part of the educational focus of this new park, the City of Sammamish partnered with the Lake Washington School District’s Tesla STEM High School, challenging a team of 10 students to contribute to Big Rock Park’s Phase I development. Their efforts produced an environmental education program, enhanced riparian vegetation, interpretive signage, and if grant funding is obtained, an electric car charging station.

Big Rock Park originally opened to the public in October 2011. It represents the first phase of a large land donation from Mary Pigott to the City of Sammamish. This phased donation will ultimately result in more than 51 acres of new park land. The new park offers many exciting features including trails, extensive wetlands, ponds, mature evergreen and deciduous trees, and of course, a massive big rock.

Big Rock Park is open from dawn until dusk and is located at 21805 SE 8th Street, Sammamish, Wash.