Explore this Edmonds park, centered on the deep ravine of Shell Creek. Enjoy the surrounding second growth forest, with its tall red alder and fir trees. Observe spring wildflowers or, seasonally, fall colors. And appreciate the sounds of a multitude of bird calls.
This park has very few trail signs, and those just proclaim "Trail." So a map is essential, even to follow the description below. You can download one from www.edmondswa.gov/yost-park-discovery.html. This same page offers an interesting history of the early days of Edmonds, and of early logging here.
One trail shown on the map, the Songbird Trail just west of the parking area, seems not to exist (as of Spring 2016.) Also, as in any park, there are a few social trails not shown on the map. Please try to stay on the official trails.
For a small park, the network of trails is surprisingly intricate. If you prefer, you can set out with the map and explore on your own. Or, here is a suggested route that gets to the most interesting parts of the park.
From the NW end of the parking area, follow the gated park service road as it curves around to the right and heads toward the back of the pool. Be alert for the "Trail" sign on the left that marks the beginning of the Sword Fern Trail. Descend that trail steeply into the ravine, and reach a pair of bridges over Shell Creek. Note remnants of old concrete structures here, and elsewhere along the creek. They date from 1902 when the park's namesake, the Yost family, formed the Edmonds Spring Water Company to provide the first regular water service to Edmonds.
At the creek, take the right trail fork (it's the Shell Creek Trail,) cross the bridge and follow the trail upstream. It's a good trail, partly on boardwalk. In spring, be alert for a few wildflowers such as buttercups, youth-on-age, avens, fringe cup and bleeding heart. Wild berries are found here too. Look for the early magenta blooms of salmonberry and later, the white blooms of thimbleberry and creeping raspberry. And, particularly in spring, listen for an ongoing medley of bird songs.
Continue along Shell Creek Trail. It crosses the main stream twice and some minor tributaries as well on sturdy bridges. At a trail fork stay left (the right fork returns to the parking area.) Cross Shell Creek again on a bridge and turn right at the next trail crossing. At the next fork stay right and cross the creek again. Just before another bridge across Shell Creek, near the park boundary, note the Overlook Trail heading right and uphill.
Take this trail, cross the park service road and climb steeply uphill. In May, near the hilltop, you are likely to see orange honeysuckle in bloom. At the top of the hill go straight. Drop slightly and, in about 100 feet, turn right onto the Crow's Nest Loop. In spite of the name, there is no view. Follow the trail a short way downhill and be alert for a trail on the left. Take it (the ongoing route ends near the tennis courts.) Soon, at a trail junction, head left again (the right fork also ends near the tennis courts.) Head back uphill and, at the now-familiar high point, go right on the Overlook Trail.
Descend the Overlook Trail back to Shell Creek, cross the bridge near the edge of the park, and head gently uphill. The ongoing route can be somewhat confusing, because there are social trails as well as official trails along the way and, of course, there are no signs. It's likely you can refer to the map and follow the route along parts of the Cedar Loop Trail and the Highline Trail on your own. Or, refer to the following hints. (As a backup, any downhill trail will return you to the Shell Creek Trail.)
At each of the next four trail junctions, stay right. After the last junction, you will be heading steeply uphill. Be alert for the trail that sweeps around to the left and take it. In a few feet go left again, then in a few more feet go right. At a trail crossing go straight. At a T-junction, go right on the Highline Trail. At the next trail fork, stay right. At the next T-junction, go left (the right fork leads out to a trailhead on Main St, opposite Olympic Ave.) This puts you back on the Sword Fern Trail, near its northern end.
The route is easier now. Soon, look for a "Trail" sign pointing right. This is somewhat misleading, because it directs you to the Weir Trail that is a dead end. But do go there. The Weir Trail drops a bit and soon reaches Shell Creek at the site of another concrete structure. There are good views across the creek, and it's worth scanning the trees across the stream for pileated woodpeckers or eagles. When you are ready, head back up the Weir Trail to the Sword Fern Trail and turn right. Drop a few feet, and soon come to the dual bridges across Shell Creek that should look familiar. Continue straight ahead on the Sword Fern Trail to return to your trailhead at the parking area.
Extending your hike
If Yost Park hasn't satisfied all your hiking ambitions, Pine Ridge Park is only a half-mile away. You can easily hike over to Pine Ridge Park, enjoy some trails there (see our Hiking Guide entry for Pine Ridge Park) then return here.
To get from Yost Park to Pine Ridge Park by foot, follow the park service road as it circles around behind the pool and heads toward the eastern park boundary. Continue straight ahead on Shell Valley Road. This is an area of suburban homes with a lot of green landscaping. It also has quiet streets with little traffic so it's generally a pleasant walk.
In about 1000 feet, turn left on Pioneer Way. The street soon comes to a dead end, but a wide paved trail continues on. In another 400 feet it reaches Main Street, where it passes under the street via a tunnel/culvert. (Are you over six feet tall? If so, WATCH YOUR HEAD.) Beyond the tunnel, the trail enters a narrow extension of Pine Ridge Park, and you will find yourself on that park's Main Trail headed toward Cole's Cutoff. Refer to our Hiking Guide, and a Pine Ridge Park map, for additional details.