Rapid expansion has caused growing pains for Lake Stevens August 17, 2014
Visit the lower Skykomish River Valley to explore nature, history, hammocks September 19, 2015
Things have warmed up since then.
The 146-foot-deep lake and its inviting summer temperatures have brought crowds to its public beaches on most days this month.
Ducks and geese splash in the water alongside kids of all ages. Eagles soar overhead. Speed boats pull water skiers. Fishermen cast their lines.
The lake, encompassing 1,000 acres with eight miles of shoreline, also is home to float planes, Jet Skies, sailboats, canoes and all sorts of other human-powered craft and activities. It's busy.
Much of life in the city of Lake Stevens is focused on the lake and its view of the Cascade Range.
From the 1920s to the 1950s, Lake Stevens was primarily a resort community. If you drive around the lake, you can still see little beach cabins tucked in between some of the larger homes.
After 1960, when the city incorporated, residential growth was quick. Greater Lake Stevens now has a population closing in on the 30,000 mark. Most people in this suburb commute somewhere for work.
It wasn't always that way.
At the turn of the past century, Lake Stevens — named for territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens — was home to logging railroad interests and a large mill run by the Rucker brothers of Everett. But after the mill burned in 1919 and again in 1925, that was the end of industry on the lake. You can see the remains of the mill at Mill Cove Reserve, a park south of Main Street between 16th and 17th Place NE.
More about the history of Lake Stevens is available at the Lake Stevens Historical Museum, above the public library and next door to City Hall at 1802 Main St. in downtown. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Nearby are the Lake Stevens Rowing Club and North Cascades Crew boat houses, where you can sign up to learn how to row.
Kristin Fetters-Walp and her family enjoy the city's small downtown on the lake's northeast cove.
“What I like best is the walkability: Grab some picnic stuff from Jay's Market or a milkshake from the Chicken Drive-In, a book from the library and go enjoy the lake view from North Cove Park,” Fetters-Walp said. “Games Plus in downtown is great for discovering fun new family games to play and they'll teach you how to play right in the store. Also check out the new alternative-vegan place, Ringing Cedar Tea Tavern.”
In the shopping area up the west hill from the lake, LJ's Bistro and Bar attracts a local clientele. On the north side of the lake, across from Lundeen Park, stop in at Norm's Market.
From the outside Norm's looks like an average mini-mart Shell gas station, except that it sells fishing gear, campfire bundles and beer kegs.
Inside, however, it's a beer lover's dream.
Owner Shane McDaniel prides himself on his huge collection of beer memorabilia, as well as the aisles of coolers packed with 2,600 different craft, domestic and imported beers and vintage sodas.
Speaking of fun, the city's annual Aquafest celebration during the last week of July is followed this Sunday with the annual Ironman triathlon competition.
Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens is a regional championship race. Of those competing, 30 people will qualify to compete in the 2015 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. It's a big deal.
Athletes will begin early in the morning with a 1.2-mile swim from the public boat launch in downtown Lake Stevens. The 56-mile bike course takes riders through some of the hills around the lake. The race finishes with a run through the downtown area and surrounding community.
Lake Stevens prides itself on outdoor activities. It has numerous parks and trails designed for wildlife watching, disc golfing, biking, hiking, horseback riding, swimming and boat launching.
Debbie Neyer, of Lake Stevens, and her three grandchildren make frequent visits to the nine-acre Lundeen Park, located at Lundeen Parkway and 99th Ave. NE.
“Along with a shaded picnic area, it has the best beach for young kids,” she said.
The county's Centennial Trail, which stretches from Skagit County to Snohomish, runs through the east side of Lake Stevens, with trailheads at Highway 92, 20th Street NE and Machias Road. The trail is popular with bikers, horse riders, walkers and runners.
The Willard Wyatt County Park, 10508 Chapel Hill Road on the west side of the lake, has a great view of the Cascades. Facilities include a public boat launch and dock, a fishing pier and swimming area. The park attracts teens and families who enjoy sunbathing and jumping off the pier.
Lake Stevens Disc Golf Course, next door to Pilchuck Elementary School on 20th Street NE, is a park favored by veteran disc golfers.
Among tall cedars and Douglas fir trees, the 19-basket course is challenging.
Though men in their 20s are the usual golfers in the park, on a recent day three skilled gentlemen in their 60s, Lou Berger, Doug Hamar and Young Man Choi, packed their disc bags and enjoyed a friendly, but competitive round.
“It's a beautiful course,” said Berger, who lives nearby. “It's one of the great things about Lake Stevens.”
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; email@example.com. Twitter: @galefiege.
Tourist in Your Own Town
In each of our cities in Snohomish and Island counties, we have tourist attractions often overlooked by the people who live in this region. Have you taken the time to be a Tourist in Your Own Town? This the eighth in a continuing series of monthly explorations of our hometowns.
To read the previous stories, go to www.heraldnet.com/tourist.
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