On a lovely Sunday morning, I headed out on an adventure after seeing a sign advertising a scavenger hunt in Issaquah Highlands. Highlands Council and the Woodland Park Zoo’s Carnivore Coexistence Action Team collaborated to bring “Crossing Paths with Carnivores,” an interactive scavenger hunt to the community. To start, all I needed was my smartphone, water, a snack, and I was ready to go.
After downloading the Geocaching Adventure Lab mobile app, I learned the scavenger hunt would take me to 12 different locations in Issaquah Highlands. I felt confident I would be familiar with all the locations; at the time, I had no idea I would end up uncovering some of the community’s hidden gems.
The first stop was the Grand Ridge Trail trailhead at South Pond, right behind my house and one of my favorite spots. In the summer, my family enjoys walking around the pond, observing the ducks, and listening to the lovely sound of bagpipes performed by a neighbor. The signboard on the trail had a clue revealing my next location. Excited, I proceeded to the next spot — Central Park.
The familiar scene of Central Park reminded me of the precautions our community takes to keep bears out of our garbage so we can coexist together. Coexisting with animals is a natural part of life in Issaquah Highlands. Make sure your garbage cans are only placed outside on the day of collection, not the night before. Secondly, keep birdseed outside only in the winter (bears adore it). There are plenty of resources for birds in spring and summer, and putting birdseed in easily accessible areas where bears may find it is not a good idea. Are you curious as to how I learned all this? It was all shared via video in the scavenger hunt app!
The next stop was the Vista 1 Community Garden, reached by Trailhead Vista. The community garden reminded me of a key principle of our Issaquah Highlands community — to be a thriving, efficient, sustainable community that cares for and preserves the natural environment for ourselves and for generations to come.
I left Vista Gardens with a sense of pride and walked towards Village Green and Blakely Hall. I was surprised to see my friends from the Highlands Youth Advisory Board getting the park ready for the “Global Grub and Groove” Indian Independence Day event. I joined the fun along with my mom, and we created a beautiful peacock rangoli. After spending a couple of hours there, we decided to drive to the rest of the scavenger hunt stops.
The 25th Avenue NE bridge was a known landmark, and it was a lovely spot to sit and relax after a hard day in the heat. I had my sandwich there and watched people of all ages enjoying their walks. My mother and I drove to neighborhood parks, such as Bear Park, Kirk Park, and the Issaquah Highlands Bark Park, which featured interesting scavenger hunt clues and questions. The dogs at Bark Park were playing, running, and having fun.
Finally, the Dahlia Park neighborhood bridge was a true gem. It was my favorite part of the adventure since it was peaceful and lovely.
The trip ‘Crossing with Carnivores’ has changed my perspective of the Highlands. From a garden to a dog park, each of these locations was truly special in its own way. It was awe-inspiring to witness our thriving, sustainable community that is nestled in the picturesque foothills of the Cascade Mountains. We should take pride in being a part of a community where we co-exist with carnivores peacefully. I know this community has so much more to offer, and I’m excited to go on even more adventures here.
What are you waiting for? Learn more about how you can take the “Crossing Paths with Carnivores” scavenger hunt here.
Akshadha Seshamani is an eighth-grader, a member of the Highlands Youth Advisory Board, and an Issaquah Highlands resident. All photos by Akshadha Seshamani.