Are you a naturalist seeking to observe local flora and fauna? A trail runner in need of a place to train when you can’t make it to the mountains? A dog owner looking for a place to walk with your furry friend? A parent hoping to introduce a child to the wonderful outdoors? Or maybe just a busy urban dweller searching for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of city life? If you fit any of these descriptions, then look no further. Seward Park is the place for you!
Located southeast from downtown Seattle, Seward Park resides on the Bailey Peninsula in the neighborhood that shares its name. The city of Seattle bought the peninsula in 1911 and began developing the area into a park shortly thereafter. Since then, the park has become home to a variety of educational, recreational, and cultural activities. Visitors can enjoy a 2.4 mile bike and walking loop, an amphitheater, a native plant garden, an art studio, sheltered picnic areas, slightly more challenging hiking trails, a swimming beach, and more.
To start your urban adventure, begin at the Seward Park Environmental & Audubon Center. Here you’ll find restrooms, waste bags to clean up after your dog, an information kiosk with facts about the park’s plant and animal life, and knowledgeable staff members who can help you make the most of your visit. Next, head southeast from the Audubon Center toward the children’s playground to find the start of the outer bike and walking path that hugs the shoreline surrounding to park for 2.4 miles, labeled as trail #10 on the park map.
This trail is paved the entire way around and can be enjoyed by people of all fitness levels and abilities. As you begin walking along the path, take note of the poison oak signs. Stay on the path or trails to avoid an itchy encounter. You’ll also notice lots of benches throughout the park to take a rest or to simply gaze out at beautiful Lake Washington.
At a little over half a mile you will come to a junction with another intersecting trail, trail #2. If you’d like to cut the longer loop of the park short, make a left at this junction to cut across the park, otherwise continue straight. Shortly after this junction you will come across the site of the Seward Park Fish Hatchery built in 1935. Although the hatchery has been closed for some time, remnants of it can still be seen. Make sure to stop at the nearby information kiosk to read about its history.
Continuing on, you will come to another junction at approximately 1.75 miles. From here, you can leave the paved path and head into the interior of the park, where you will find slightly more rugged, wooded trails. These trails are ideal for those looking for a challenge and a detour from the more popular outer loop; however, be mindful of roots, logs and rocks that could present an obstacle for some. The interior dirt and gravel paths are all interconnecting and no more than a mile each.
After a side trip through the forest, return to the paved trail and continue heading west back toward the Seward Park Environmental & Audubon Center. You’ll encounter outstanding views of downtown Seattle, a friendly reminder that you barely have to leave the city to find an outdoor haven.
WTA Pro Tip: After working up an appetite at the park, consider stopping for lunch at the nearby Flying Squirrel Pizza Co. which features locally made ingredients including meats from Zoe's Meats, Salumi Artisan Cured Meats, and Draper Farms, locally farmed vegetables, coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and ice cream from Snoqualmie Ice Cream. Flying Squirrel has been serving up delicious pizza to the community since 2008.