Whether you have more time now that the kids are back in school, or you simply want to get out and explore the city during these beautiful fall weekends with the family, recreational biking has never been easier. Enhanced biking trails with easy access from various neighborhoods, better bike rental options, SDOT trail maps and the new interactive online bicycle map all add up to the start of a fun—and healthy—way to see Seattle from a whole new vantage point. Popular landmarks, Native American historic sites, beautiful gardens and parks, scenic views and wildlife, restaurants and shops – it’s all accessible by bike.
The best way to get started is to pick a trail based on location and points of interest. To that end, we’ve chosen five based on their accessibility and the unique and fun encounters they offer along the way. So, grab a bike, your helmet, some water and snacks (or make a pit stop for lunch at a nearby restaurant or cafe).
The Burke Gilman Trail
Just over 18 miles, it stretches from Golden Gardens Park in Ballard to the Sammamish River in Bothell (near Woodinville’s wineries), and winds through Fremont, the University District and Lake Forest Park—giving you multiple points of entry, and much to explore over many rides. Highlights include: The Ballard locks, the famous Fremont Troll, Gas Works Park with its kite-flying hill, The U-District’s secluded path of maples, dogwoods and firs, Matthews Beach Park, and the city of Lake Forest Park with a serpent fountain and two lakefront parks.
This scenic 7.7-mile trail, part of which hugs the northern and eastern shore of West Seattle along Alki Avenue, is one of the most scenic in Seattle, with wondrous views of Puget Sound, Mount Rainier and The Olympic Mountains. It’s great for beginners too because traffic on the trail is separated for bikers and walkers. Highlights include: Alki Point Lighthouse, Luna Park (enjoy one of Luna Park Café’s famous milkshakes), and Alki Beach Park. From October-February, keep an eye out for Harbor seals, whales, sea lions, porpoises and sea otters.
This 3-mile trail recently had a major makeover, which included an extension of asphalt for cyclists and pedestrians, pavement on previously unsurfaced areas, the clearing of overgrown vegetation, and new lighting along the trail route. Running along the Duwamish Waterway, it begins just a half mile south of the Alki Trail in West Seattle to South Park. Though it runs parallel to the road, there is some shoreline and scenic spots along the way. Highlights include: Cesar Chavez Park (check out the cool “Musical Steles” sculpture from nationally-renowned stone sculptor Jesus Bautista Moroles), Herring’s House Park (a green space with marsh and forest), and The Duwamish Tribe’s Longhouse and Cultural Center.
Chief Sealth Trail
Chief Sealth Trail was created in 2007 and built almost entirely from recycled materials, including recycled soil and crushed concrete from the Link Light Rail Project in Rainier Valley. The asphalt-paved 3.6-mile trail connects Beacon Hill to Rainier Valley via gently sloped hills and is one of only five that cross the city. Highlights include: The Thistle P-Patch Community Gardens, Newholly Public Library, and Kubota Garden (a must-see 20-acre Japanese-style garden created by master landscaper Fujitaro Kubota that incorporates native Northwest plants and features waterfalls, ponds, and bridges).
Seward Park Trail
The 2.4-mile paved bike and walking path hugs the shoreline along 300-acre Seward Park with its old growth forest that’s home to eagle’s nests, native plants and stunning views of Lake Washington. Highlights include: Seward Park Clay Studio (drop in on a class for kids and adults), a playground, an amphitheater, and sheltered picnic areas.
For more info on these trails (and many more!), visit www.seattle.gov/bike.