Urban trails for Northwest summer

8 Urban Strolls to Savor the Northwest Summer

Updated April 19, 2019

Isn’t it lovely how the sun stays around on summer days? Sneaking in an outdoor run, walk or bike ride—long after dinner—is a true summertime luxury. To make sure you get the most of these lingering summer days before fall, we’ve compiled six great urban trails perfect for an evening stroll. Before you know it, it’ll be dark at 5pm! So get out and enjoy the beautiful weather while it’s here.

1. Seattle: Elliott Bay Trail

For water views and prime sunset watching, head to the Elliott Bay trail, a five-mile paved path from South Royal Brougham Way (near the stadiums) to Smith Cove Park in Magnolia. If you only want to do a portion of it, park along West Galer Street , hop on the trail and take a left, making your way towards downtown. You’ll hit the Olympic Sculpture Park about two miles in, a great turnaround point. Enjoy the park and views of the ferries and the Olympic Mountains—especially spectacular at sunset.

2. Tacoma: South Waterfront

To explore Tacoma’s south waterfront area, try this 1.5-mile stroll through Fireman’s Park, Dock Street Marina and the new Waterfront Park. Start your walk at Fireman’s Park and be sure to check out the 105-foot-tall Totem Pole. You’ll then follow this step-by-step route as you make your way to Freighthouse Square—a great spot for a quick meal. Return the way you came for a longer walk, or jump on the free Link (which arrives every 12 minutes) for a quick ride back to your car.

3. Spokane: Centennial Trail

If you live in or near Spokane, you’re likely not too far from the Centennial Trail—a 37-mile paved trail from Nine Mile Falls all the way to the Idaho state line. Get to know the trail by checking out one of these sections of it:

  • Riverside State Park: Explore up to 10 miles of trail through this beautiful, forested park.
  • Kendall Yards: In west-central Spokane, walk along this newly finished portion of the trail for views of the Spokane River.
  • Riverfront Park: Stroll along this urban portion of the trail, the site of the 1974 World’s Fair. Kids in tow? Make sure you check out the carousel!

Urban trails in the Northwest city

4. Portland: Eastbank Esplanade

Take in views of the Portland skyline on an evening stroll along the Eastbank Esplanade in Portland’s Central Eastside neighborhood. The paved trail is actually a smaller section of the 20-mile Springwater Corridor Trail.

Here’s our favorite 2.5-mile loop: Begin at the Eastbank Esplanade  and head south to the Southwest Hawthorne Bridge. After you cross the bridge, loop right towards the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Finish the loop by crossing back over at the Steel Bridge.

5. Eugene: Riverbank Trail

The Ruth Bascom Riverbank Trail system in Eugene includes four interconnected trails along the Willamette River. With a variety of crisscrossing paths and bridges, you’ll have many options to suite your distance and time constraints. For a 5-mile walk or bike ride, park at the Valley River Center  and head across the Greenway Bike Bridge. Hang a left on the South Bank Trial for 2.5 miles. Cross back over on the Autzen Foot Bridge and finish the loop on the North Bank Trail. For a shorter loop, you can cut over early on the DeFazio Bike Bridge.

6. Bend: Deschutes River Trail

With an Urban Trail System of more than 64 miles, Bend has so many great accessible walking routes. One of our favorites is the Deschutes River Trail. And if you have your own paddleboard or kayak, you can hop on the adjacent water trail for a water adventure!

For river and mountain views, head to Awbrey Reach, the northernmost section of the trail, and start your walk at Sawyer Uplands Park. This section of the trail is unpaved (with a few hills), but you’ll see the Deschutes River below you and views of the Three Sisters Mountains in the distance.

Where are your favorite urban walks to savor the end of summer? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

7. Juneau Street tour

When in Juneau on a lovely day, take advantage of the walkable downtown, waterfront, and shopping core. Use the spotting scopes on the waterfront to look up at Mount Juneau. Don’t be surprised to spot some resident mountain goats. Then take a trip back in time to the gold mining days on South Franklin. Stop into one of the early saloons. Then choose your own adventure: Shopping or history.

8. Anchorage on foot

This captivating city is full of secrets you’ll only find on foot. Take a historic walk and find a bar that was once only for women! Check out some old homes, log cabins, and parks. You’ll be taken back to when Anchorage was a small town.

Jori Saeger

Jori Saeger is a Seattle-based adventure enthusiast. On most weekends you’ll find her running around Green Lake, hiking in the I-90 corridor or exploring small towns by bike. During the week, you’ll find her squeezing in a barre or spin class and whipping up new, healthy recipe creations. You can follow her adventures at www.jorisaeger.com

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