Interlaken Park is an oddly-shaped, hilly, forested park at the northern end of Seattle's Capitol Hill. It is fairly close to Volunteer Park and the Asian Art Museum and, in the opposite direction, to the Washington Park Arboretum. So a visit here can be combined with a visit to any of these other attractions.
As in any urban park, you are free to explore roads and trails on your own. Or, if you prefer a more structured experience the following route will give you a good introduction to the park.
- From the trailhead, head west on the broad paved "trail." It's actually a continuation of E Interlaken Blvd so it looks more like a road, but this ongoing section has been restricted to foot and bicycle traffic. (Below, this route is referred to simply as "the road.")
- In about 600 feet, note a trail leaving the road and heading uphill to your left, paralleling a small creek that may be dry in summer.
- Take this trail and follow it uphill, avoiding two side trails to the right. Along the way there are some picturesque stairs that add interest.
- In a quarter mile from the road, with about 175 feet elevation gain, you will reach a high point near the corner of E Galer St and 19th Ave E (a couple of other streets also meet here at odd angles, making for an unusually complex street intersection.)
- Pause and catch your breath if you need to, then turn around and head back down the trail. In about 300 feet, head left at the trail fork, but avoid any footpaths that lead out to the side street to your left.
- Later, at another trail fork, head left down the obvious stone stairs. The ongoing trail will approach the road, then follow along a few feet above it for some distance. Eventually, at a small gully, the trail drops back down to the road.
- Continue left on the road for a while. In about 700 feet, at 19th Ave E, the ongoing road becomes open to cars again, so be alert.
- Follow the road as it bends around sharply to the left, then take a 90-degree turn right to remain on the road (NOT a 180-degree turn. That would put you on a different street with a similar name.)
- Stay on the road for about another 750 feet and, where it makes a sharp loop to the right, look on the left for a stone monument with a brass plaque. The monument honors Louisa Boren (1827-1916,) an early Seattle pioneer and longest surviving member of the historic Denny Party.
A number of years ago, a steep trail began here behind the Boren monument and continued uphill all the way to a lookout at Louisa Boren Park near the corner of 15th Ave E and E Garfield St.
The trail seems to be there but it has been closed for a while. As of March 2018 it remained blocked at both ends by chained gates, and posted with signs announcing the closure and warning of unspecified dangers.
Perhaps by the time you do your hike this trail will have been repaired and be open again. If so, on a clear day it's worth hiking up to the lookout for the wide view of the Cascades. (Or you can drive around after your hike.)
Depending on the trail's status, you can do the optional hike up to the lookout and come back down (this will add a half-mile to your round trip, with an additional 230 feet of elevation gain.) Or, just turn around here at the monument and follow the road all the way back to your trailhead.
While this is not a wildflower hike, you may see a few flowers in season. The Indian plum begins to flower in late winter, along with a few non-native snowdrops introduced by early European settlers. Red currant blooms in early spring. Later, look for skunk cabbage, bleeding heart, trillium and fringecup.