Chism Beach refreshes on a hot summer day

Chism Beach Park on Lake Washington in Bellevue last Wednesday, July 16. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Chism Beach Park on Lake Washington in Bellevue last Wednesday, July 16.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

For a refreshing swim in Lake Washington, an especially pleasant beach is at Chism Park in Bellevue, just three miles from Mercer Island. Sloping green lawns, a sandy beach and swimming area with a sturdy raft make this a great summer outing.

As you drive in the Chism Park entrance (see directions in box), you are still well above the beach. Off to the right, hidden behind a daisy-ridden perennial garden, is a gently sloping lawn.

“It’s our reserved picnic area where lots of weddings and receptions take place,” said Meiyee Tan, Chism Beach lifeguard. One can immediately see why: As you stand on the lush green lawn, mature Madrona trees frame a gorgeous view of Lake Washington and Luther Burbank Park.

To get down to the beach, a set of stairs drops from the parking area to the water. To the left, there is a paved, gentle grade for strollers and wheelchairs. There are sloping lawns down below, too, partially shaded by tall Douglas firs. The level, stone-free beach faces west, catching the afternoon sun and a glimpse of downtown Seattle.

A great feature of Chism Beach is the primary-colored big toy situated at the water’s edge. Shaped like a ship, with a sailing mast and a cool blue tube slide, its placement makes it possible for an adult with more than one child to watch climbers, sand excavators and waders all at once.

A roped-off swimming area is lifeguarded from noon to 7 p.m., daily. There is a pier and raft for jumping (no diving) in the deep end. To the north of the beach, past the conveniently located restrooms, a short trail leads along the rocky shore. There are a couple of picnic tables here and a short “blackberry alley” that dead-ends at Shoreland Drive.

“On Seafair weekend, it’s a good place to watch the Blue Angels,” said Danielle Boggs, another lifeguard. “But it gets pretty crowded.”

For those who get restless sitting on the shore, Chism Park has a short, forested trail loop southeast of the parking area. The “Life Cycle” wood sculpture by Pat McVay, on the paved trail to the parking area, is definitely worth a look.

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