The Gnome Trail is located across from Rock Creek Elementary School, 25700 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley. Photos by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing

The Gnome Trail is located across from Rock Creek Elementary School, 25700 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley. Photos by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing

Gnome Trail draws visitors to whimsical patch of forest in Maple Valley

There is a small issue of broken gnomes and even instances of intentional vandalism.

  • By Bailey Jo Josie bailey.jo.josie@rentonreporter.com
  • Thursday, June 2, 2022 5:16pm
  • Life

For those in the Maple Valley area who want a fun, outdoor adventure with the little ones or just a delightful walk through the woods, the Gnome Trail at Legacy Site is just the ticket.

The Gnome Trail has become one of Maple Valley’s most interesting attractions as various garden gnomes of size, shape, and origin are peppered throughout the walking trail, placed there by local gnome enthusiasts and visitors, far and wide. Located across the street from Rock Creek Elementary School, it’s a whimsical, sight to behold.

“For the most part we’ve seen a pretty good response,” said Robert Eaton, Maple Valley’s Deputy Parks Director.

A combination of community effort and the city’s parks department, the Gnome Trail is part of the 50-acre Legacy Site park off of the Maple Valley-Black Diamond Road, which hosts the city’s farmers market and is also an access point to the Green to Cedar River Trail.

The Legacy Site hasn’t always been home to the Maple Valley gnomes. Before the trail’s kickoff day back on Aug. 10, 2020, the Gnome Trail was a small part of the almost labyrinthine trails of the Henry’s Ridge Open Space, a 250-acre forest area southeast of Maple Valley. Hikers would walk through the various fairytale-inspired trails like “Once Upon a Time” or “Ogre” to get to the original Gnome Trail to find an open spot within the trees to place their own garden gnome.

Unfortunately, the Henry Ridge Gnome Trail’s popularity proved to be its downfall. Not only is the forest’s main trailhead located in a residential area with no dedicated parking, but many of the trails within the area are intended for mountain bikers. As these problems arose, the Maple Valley parks department was approached by King County with an opportunity to relocate the Gnome Trail.

At the height of the pandemic, a “re-home the gnome” event was set up where park workers and volunteers collaborated to bring all the gnomes from Henry Ridge to Legacy Site, a move that Eaton described as “a natural fit.” At the Legacy Site, there’s a trail that even small children can traverse, along with a parking lot, portable bathrooms, and a large, covered pavilion.

And while the trail is enormously popular, there is a small issue of broken gnomes and even instances of intentional vandalism. On one hand, the trail’s accessibility is a triumph, but it also means that the gnomes that live within the trails are vulnerable.

Volunteers and park workers clean up the broken pieces as often as possible and place them in a spot on the trail called the Gnome Graveyard, where the destroyed gnomes are safely stored.

“We have routine inspections of our trails and it’s our due diligence to make sure the vandalism isn’t a recurring problem,” said Eaton.

Despite the sad sight of broken garden gnomes that someone put effort into placing onto the trail, people are still energized by the magical pull of the Gnome Trail.

“People are becoming more creative with placing the gnomes,” said Eaton. “People will bring new gnomes, which I think is pretty cool.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

The Gnome Trail is located across from Rock Creek Elementary School, 25700 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley. Photos by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing

The Gnome Trail is located across from Rock Creek Elementary School, 25700 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley. Photos by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing

The Gnome Trail is located across from Rock Creek Elementary School, 25700 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley. Photos by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing

The Gnome Trail is located across from Rock Creek Elementary School, 25700 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley. Photos by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing

The Gnome Trail is located across from Rock Creek Elementary School, 25700 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley. Courtesy of Maple Valley Parks Department

The Gnome Trail is located across from Rock Creek Elementary School, 25700 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley. Courtesy of Maple Valley Parks Department

The Gnome Trail is located across from Rock Creek Elementary School, 25700 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley. Photos by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing

The Gnome Trail is located across from Rock Creek Elementary School, 25700 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley. Photos by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing

More in Life

Wearing a shawl she crocheted herself, Irene Graham shows her impressionist art and some of her porcelain dolls that she made herself. Photo by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing
At 103, Federal Way artist still feels like a kid at heart

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, local centenarian continues creating her porcelain art.

tsr
Rainier Audubon Society to debut first Bird Festival at Flaming Geyser Park

The Bird Festival is being organized with the Washington State Parks department.

The Gnome Trail is located across from Rock Creek Elementary School, 25700 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley. Photos by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing
Gnome Trail draws visitors to whimsical patch of forest in Maple Valley

There is a small issue of broken gnomes and even instances of intentional vandalism.

Rajiv Nagaich is an elder law attorney, author, adjunct law school professor, and retirement planning visionary who has achieved national recognition for his cutting-edge work with retirees and his contributions to the practice of elder law. He is the founder of two firms based in Federal Way: Life Point Law, an elder law and estate planning firm, and AgingOptions, a firm that provides retirement-related education to consumers and professionals.
Ask Rajiv: Protecting assets when getting married later in life | Senior Lifestyles

Dear Rajiv: My 88-year-old mother is about to marry a 90-year-old widower.… Continue reading

Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
Nonprofit founder Cheryl Hurst, center, with volunteers Karlyn Devereaux, Joe Hutchinson, Cari Franklin and Anna Patrick inside an empty retail space in Federal Way where thousands of diapers were stored during the March of Diapers event.
Charity collects almost 400,000 diapers for local families

The results are in! This year’s March of Diapers donation event, hosted… Continue reading

Rajiv Nagaich is an elder law attorney, author, adjunct law school professor, and retirement planning visionary who has achieved national recognition for his cutting-edge work with retirees and his contributions to the practice of elder law. He is the founder of two firms based in Federal Way: Life Point Law, an elder law and estate planning firm, and AgingOptions, a firm that provides retirement-related education to consumers and professionals.
Ask Rajiv: Power of Attorney and sharing financial information | Senior Lifestyles

Dear Rajiv: My question is about the Power of Attorney. My estate… Continue reading

T
King County libraries curate book collections for the community

February’s Black History Month book list includes 25 titles at King County libraries

Teaser
World’s longest surviving kidney patient dies

Mercer Island resident Nancy Spaeth went on dialysis at age 18 and received four kidney transplants.

tsr
Recipe of the Week: Balsamic fig cake

Recipe of the week for Feb. 18.

Photo by Monstera from Pexels
Submit your local love stories

Did you fall in love in Federal Way? Let us know.

The Enumclaw library is passing out free at-home rapid COVID tests. Photo by Ray Miller-Still
8 King County libraries passing out at-home rapid COVID tests

Supply is limited; patrons are asked to limit themselves to two tests per household.