Trails all around Seattle beckon hikers to revel in our pristine wilderness areas. But mountain forays are time-consuming with the long drives and time spent on the trail. Enter Seattle’s urban hikes.
As it turns out, you can scratch your hiking itch just a short distance from your front door. Seattle offers urban hikes for people of all abilities. Whether you want to get some exercise, see a new part of the city, or just want to cut out the gas-guzzling mountain trips, urban hikes are a great way to get out.
One of the most attractive aspects of Seattle’s urban hikes is their versatility. You can build your own a route that winds through parks, passes scenic overlooks, and hits points of interest like museums and restaurants. Consider these options that use the city’s multi-use paths and public parks next time you’re itching for an adventure.
7 Urban Hikes in Seattle
- Discovery Park
Seattle’s largest park, this Magnolia behemoth boasts an impressive 11.8 miles of trails that wind through 534 acres. Active options abound. Head to the lighthouse and explore the tidal beaches below Discovery Park’s impressive bluff. The Discovery Park Loop Trail lasts 2.8 miles with only 140 feet of elevation change. Or opt for the half-mile Wolf Tree Nature Trail and experience a raised boardwalk over wetlands.
- Washington Park Arboretum
A stroll through the arboretum is as educational as it is scenic. Learn about plants from around the world as you pass under impressive oak and maple trees, visit the Japanese Garden, or sign up for a guided walk or night hike. With 230 acres to explore, the arboretum offers unmatched tranquility hidden just outside of downtown Seattle.
- Stairway Walks
Locals Jake & Cathy Jaramillo have developed a comprehensive list of Seattle’s many stairways, organizing them into routes in their book Seattle Stairway Walks. There are 25 routes in the book, and each description includes transit information, a detailed map, photos, and suggestions for stops along the way.
- Burke-Gilman Trail
Seattle’s 18-mile-long multi-use trail, the Burke-Gilman runs from Shilshole Bay to Kenmore. Enjoy views of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, visit the Hiram Chittenden Locks and Gas Works Park, spot boats along Lake Washington, and stop in at a brewery or café to refuel.
- Camp Long
This West Seattle gem has 2.8 miles of trails through its 68-acre forest, plus 10 cabins that will make you feel like you’re camping far from the city. There are also covered picnic areas, a group fire ring, and a climbing rock, so you can easily make a whole day of it here, even if you’re not spending the night.
- Seward Park
It’s hard to pick a “best” park in a city of outstanding green spaces, but Seward Park certainly ranks near the top. Covering 300 acres of old-growth forest and shoreline on Bailey Peninsula, the park offers scenery unlike anything else you’ll find in the city limits. Enjoy a pleasant stroll down a 2.3-mile paved walking and biking path that follows Lake Washington’s shoreline. Take a dip in the lake when the weather warms up, stroll through the native plants garden, or hike one of the park’s more challenging trails. Seward Park’s versatility ensures you’ll be in for a day of active fun.
- Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop
If you’re looking for waterfront urban hikes that’ll connect you to Seattle history, it’s hard to beat this loop. This multi-use trail lassoes Lake Union, connecting Gasworks Park and Lake Union Park. It also connects some 35 smaller waterfront “pocket parks” and waterways to create a continuous network of recreational open space. Bring a picnic, or plan to stop at a café along the way.