Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Seattle Trails: A trail along the water at Discovery Park

Take in the views along this trail at Discovery Park. Photo by Joe Mabel

6 great Seattle trails to hike this summer

Get some exercise and a view without leaving the city.

Seattle loves its trails! Here are some favorites to hike this summer:

Alki Trail

Neighborhood: West Seattle
Distance: 7 miles (out and back). Flat, paved and scenic, with postcard-quality views of the Olympic Mountains, the downtown skyline and the activity in Elliott Bay.


Chief Sealth Trail

Neighborhoods: Beacon Hill, Rainier Beach
Distance: 8 miles (out and back).
Expect hills, curves, gardens and surprising viewpoints on Lake Washington and Seattle.

Washington Park Arboretum

Neighborhood: Montlake, Madison Park, Capitol Hill
Distance: 2 miles for the loop trail, up to 1 mile each way for the waterfront trail.
Contemplate trees in all their variety (there are more than 50 species of maple alone), or take a boardwalk out on the lake to outlying islands. More: A walk on the lake in Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum.


Discovery Park

Neighborhood: Magnolia
Distance: Biggest loop: 4.4 miles.
You can explore meadows, find secret ponds, forest-bathe or enjoy broad beaches that grow wide at low tide.


Carkeek Park

Neighborhoods: Broadview, North Beach/Blue Ridge
Distance: Up to 3 miles.
The most popular walking route in this woodsy waterfront park follows the course of Piper’s Creek, a salmon-bearing stream. What it’s like in the fall: Take your kids to see spawning salmon at Seattle’s Carkeek Park.


Union Bay Natural Area

Neighborhood: University District, Laurelhurst
Distance: 1-mile loop.
This area of cottonwoods, meadows and wetlands next to the University of Washington is a haven for birds and those who love to watch them. Keep masks on at all times here; there are lot of elderly people around. More about the trail: Take your kids on a summer nature walk in the Union Bay Natural Area.


Also see: Best urban trails for a family walk or bike ride in Seattle.

This story was first published in the July/August 2020 print issue.

About the Author

Fiona Cohen

Fiona Cohen lives in Ballard with her husband, two teenagers, a big vegetable garden and an absurd cat. She is the author of "Curious Kids Nature Guide," and is working on a new nature book for kids, to be published by Little Bigfoot in 2022.