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.

Construction: Construction for the Healthy Street Project was completed in Spring of 2024.


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. This trail has 800 ft elevation gain.

Construction: Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) plans to build new green stormwater infrastructure at the intersection of S. Kenyon St and the Chief Sealth Trail in 2026.

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. The Japanese Garden, located at the south end of the Arboretum, has an entrance fee but has family-friendly events throughout the year.

Closures: E. Roanoke St. between Louisa St. and Montlake Blvd closed June 24 to July 3. Check more upcoming closure updates here that may cause delays.


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. Seattle Parks and Recreation is offering a free summer beach shuttle every Saturday through September 7, 2024 and loops between the Visitor Center, North parking lot and the beach.

Construction: No current projects.


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. Carkeek Park has 220 acres of lush forest, meadows, wetlands, creeks, and beach. You can access the beach by a railroad pedestrian bridge that overlooks the train tracks, and if you’re lucky, you can watch trains pass by. Note: The Carkeek Park Visitor Center is no longer open for public use.

Construction: Winter 2024/2025, Carkeek Park Playground Renovation will be under construction and expected to be completed in Spring 2025. The play area will be closed throughout construction. Learn more about the project and updates here. In Spring 2025, there will be construction on the Carkeek Park Railroad Overpass Pedestrian Bridge, learn more here.


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.

More about the trail: Take your kids on a summer nature walk in the Union Bay Natural Area.

Construction/Closures: Check for real-time road closures or delays that may impact the drive here.


Read more:

Great Seattle parks for playgrounds, beaches, views or nature

Take a family walk or bike ride across Highway 520 bridge; here’s how

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.