Kids and stairs! Running up and down them makes for some tired children and a heart-pumping workout for the parents: win-win! With more than 650 publicly accessible stairways in Seattle, there’s plenty of adventure waiting to be found in every neighborhood.
Climb into history when you traverse the city’s longest, highest and oldest stairways. Learn fun facts — like how to tell the age of the stairway by the type of handrail — and discover secret gardens, hidden paths and cool monuments.
You can do all this while enjoying playgrounds and yummy treats along the way.
Extra perk: Flexibility. You can do these walks any time of year and make them as long or short as you like.
[ Related: Find more outdoor, active fun in Seattle’s Child ]
Seattle stair walks: 5 to try
Reach the highest stair. (West Seattle)
Located in West Seattle, Myrtle Reservoir Park is home to the highest point and the highest stair in the city. In only 40 steps, reach 520 feet above sea level with views of downtown, the Cascade mountains and a set of markers pointing toward other, shorter hills, each noting their elevation.
Since this is a quick climb, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the wonderful playground. It has two areas for different ages and a super-fun climbing structure. In addition, there’s a flat circular path at the top of the park, especially good for beginning bike riders.
If you’re up for more stair adventures, try these hikes nearby: Thistle Street Stairs (367 steps), includes a mural by local artist Desmond Hansen. Lincoln Park is another hike, that’s 4 miles with stairs, and Alki Beach, clocking in at 6 miles total, also has a few stairways to explore. (Related: Tips for a winter beach walk in Lincoln Park.)
Address: Myrtle Reservoir Park, 3600 SW Myrtle Street, Seattle, 98126
Food: Several options are close by in the Morgan Junction (Fauntleroy Way Southwest and Southwest California Avenue) including Zeek’s Pizza, Subway and Starbucks.
Restrooms: None at the park, but Walt Hundley Playfield is a block away and has an outside restroom, plus another playground.
Climb the longest stairway. (Capitol Hill)
Tucked between I-5 and Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill is the city’s longest stairway — Howe Street stairs (391 steps). Looking for a fun, short loop? Pair this walk with the Blaine Street stairs (293 steps) that run parallel and one block over. Between the two, discover beautiful Streissguth Gardens, a bike park at the I-5 Colonnade Park and beautiful views of Lake Union.
A longer option is a 3-mile loop with 11 stairways that includes Volunteer Park. Stop at Louisa Boren Park and complete “lake to lake” views with Lake Washington in the distance. Martial-arts fans need to visit Bruce and Brandon Lee’s gravesite at Lake View Cemetery. At Volunteer Park, there’s a playground, botanical garden, the Seattle Asian Art Museum and more stairs to climb at the water tower, before walking back to where you started.
For either walk, use this map as a guide, but start at the top of the Blaine or Howe Street stairs and skip the portion east of Eastlake Avenue.
Address/starting point: East Howe Street and 10th Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98102 (top of Howe Street Stairs)
Food: Grand Central Bakery, 1616 Eastlake Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98102
Restrooms: Volunteer Park (between the playground and conservatory).
Discover the oldest stairs. (Queen Anne)
Get ready for a workout on this 4-mile meandering loop of 32 stairways on Queen Anne. Climb down the oldest stairs in the city, be in awe of the massive and beautiful Wilcox Wall, discover magical Parsons Garden and see stunning views of Elliott Bay, the Olympic mountains and Space Needle. Kids will be especially delighted to start and finish at a playground while indulging in treats along Galer Street.
Shorter options include a small loop starting at the playground in Bayview-Kinnear Park, up 57 stairs to Kerry Park and back down 52 stairs on the other side. Or a slightly longer version is continuing west to reach the oldest stairs at Comstock and Sixth, Wilcox Wall and Parsons Gardens.
Use this map as a guide for either option. Another great resource is this website that shares all about Queen Anne’s public stairways. It highlights history, describes different stair types and has maps of several walks, including this fun haunted hike.
Address/starting point: Bayview-Kinnear Park, 270 W Prospect Street, Seattle, WA 98119
Food: Lots of options along Galer Street between Second and Fourth or grab picnic supplies at Trader Joes (1916 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA).
Restrooms: No public options, but plenty of businesses along Galer.
Hike a forest of stairs. (Ravenna)
This up-and-down, 3-mile loop takes you through Ravenna and Cowen Parks, up the long 52nd Street stairway (247 steps) and down tiny paths for a total of 17 stairways. Bonus: Two playgrounds, both near restaurants for a nibble, meal or treat.
From Ravenna Park’s middle parking lot, walk across a bridge overlooking a wooded ravine. Cross two more bridges — connected by stairs. Fun fact: This is the setting for the book “Seattle Ghost Story.” Take the stairs to the bottom of the ravine then stroll along a creek to a playground. You could fuel up at nearby Kidd Valley, before tackling the 52nd Street stairway and another playground in Cowen Park. From here, a trail heads into the ravine, under bridges and across a boardwalk to reach your last set of stairs, back up to where you started.
Use this map as a guide. For shorter versions, walk Ravenna Park or both parks, but skip the 52nd Street section.
Address/starting point: Ravenna Park, 5520 Ravenna Ave NE, Seattle, 98105
Food: Kidd Valley (5502 25th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105), Cowen Park Grocery (1217 NE Ravenna Blvd, Seattle, WA 98105)
Restrooms: Ravenna Park playground, Cowen Park playground (portable)
Stroll stairs along the water. (Mount Baker)
Nestled in the Mount Baker neighborhood, this 3-mile, two-loop, walk of 11 stairways takes you along the shores of Lake Washington. Walk through multiple parks, into gardens and by a stunning monument.
Starting at the south end of Mount Baker Park by the playground, a small path leads to a neighborhood and down stairs to the water. Walk along the lake to reach a series of tunnels and stairs through Colman Park. Venture on to Bradner Gardens and past the Amy Yee Tennis Center, before reaching a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. The fountain, inspired by his last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” is surrounded by a series of plaques about his life and quotes from his speeches. From here, head back toward the lake via the Dose Terrace stairs, designed by the Olmsted Brothers. Follow the path through Mount Baker Park and end back at the playground, near Mioposto Pizzeria.
Use this map as a guide. For a shorter walk, choose one loop only.
Address/starting point: Mount Baker Park, 2521 Lake Park Drive South, Seattle, 98144
Food: Mioposto Pizzeria, 3426 NE 55th Street, Seattle, 98105
Restrooms: Mount Baker Beach Park, Amy Lee Tennis Center, Bradner Gardens (portables)
If you liked these Seattle stair walks, here’s how to learn about more stair hikes:
- Seattle All Stairs
This resource offers interactive maps of all the city’s public stairways plus 30 walks that you can download and printout.
- Seattle Stairway Walks
The book and website are by Cathy and Jack Jaramillo. Both include 25+ walks with step-by-step instructions, kid-friendly options and interesting facts and tidbits.
Originally published March 26, 2022