Seattle's Child

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urban walks in Seattle

Best urban trails for a family walk or bike ride in Seattle

Great, scenic, safe routes for a family walk or bike ride.

Some of the simplest (and in our opinion, best) ways to spend family time don’t require much. A simple walk can do wonders, and Seattle is abundant with favorite spots to stroll, scoot, bike or hike. No need to trek far: some of the best paths and trails can be found right outside your door. Here are some of the best trails for urban walks in Seattle.

Alki Trail

Maximum outing length: 7 miles (out and back)

Traffic: Feet and wheels

Neighborhood: West Seattle

This flat, paved trail runs along West Seattle’s Duwamish Head, boasting some of the city’s best views. Check out the Seattle Statue of Liberty or the Alki Point Lighthouse, watch ferries pass by, or take advantage of photo opps (with the Seattle skyline and Olympic Mountains for a backdrop, there are many).

Chief Sealth Trail

Maximum outing length:  8 miles (out and back)

Traffic: Feet and wheels

Neighborhoods: Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley

There are two things that make this broad, paved trail different from the others on this list: It doesn’t run along big water, and it isn’t flat. Instead, it rolls with the terrain, following the high-voltage power line right of way through Beacon Hill, pausing at street intersections. There are wonderful, surprising views up here. Othello light-rail station is a short walk from the path.

Lake Washington Boulevard Trail

Maximum outing length: 6 miles out and back along the trail, longer if you connect with other trails in Seward Park or Mount Baker Park

Traffic: Feet and wheels

Neighborhoods: Mount Baker, Seward Park

Connecting a series of beautiful parks along Lake Washington Boulevard, this path is perfect for families toting little ones. The trail runs from Mount Baker Park to Seward Park, featuring plenty of spots to stop and take in the scenery. Keep an eye out for flocks of waterfowl and sailboats, and be sure to come back for a Bicycle Sunday, where a section of the boulevard is closed to traffic. Bicycle Sundays run through summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

I-90 Trail

Maximum travel distance: 20 miles to Bellevue and back

Traffic: Feet and wheels

Neighborhoods: Beacon Hill, Central District, Mount Baker, Mercer Island, Bellevue

This east-west route is favorite for serious bicyclists, so if you’re walking with littles, steer clear during morning and afternoon rush hours. The Seattle portion starts at Dr. Jose Rizal park and meanders through a chain of parks before entering a tunnel that doubles as a graffiti art gallery and popping out at a spot overlooking the I-90 bridge.

Try also: You can walk or bike the 520 bridge!

Elliott Bay Trail

Maximum outing length: 7 miles out and back

Neighborhoods: Belltown, Interbay

Traffic: Feet and wheels

The arrival of the Expedia campus on the side of this trail brought with it a nice bit of sprucing up. Gone is a blind corner that was always tense for bike-riding families. Newly arrived: many, many more bike commuters. If you avoid high-traffic times, the portion of the trail along Elliott Bay gives spectacular views and plenty of spots to stop and relax. It ends at Myrtle Edwards Park, and you can get some culture by taking a tour of the nearby Olympic Sculpture Park.

Burke-Gilman Trail

Maximum outing length: 38 miles from Ballard to Bothell and back

Neighborhoods: Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, U District, Laurelhurst, Sand Point, View Ridge, Lake City, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell

Traffic: Feet and wheels

The Burke-Gilman trail is another vital commuter route that also gets its share of families on outings, and the stretch running from Gasworks Park through Fremont is a fan favorite. Start at the north end of Lake Union and head towards the ship canal. The path feels quintessentially Seattle, with houseboats, water traffic, and old bridges. Sunny days bring out big crowds, so make sure your kiddos know the rules and can safely share the trail.

Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail

Maximum outing length: 1 mile out and back, longer if you connect with trails to Washington Park Arboretum

Neighborhoods: Montlake

Traffic: Feet only

This walk is gorgeous, meandering along the canal and under the Montlake Bridge. Watch as boats and kayaks float past, and count how many baby geese you can find. But keep younger kiddos close, since points of the trail lead to steep drop-offs. If you want a longer exploration, you can connect to the Arboretum Waterfront Trail. And since this south portion of the Cut is pedestrian-only, leave the scooters and strollers at home.

Related to urban walks in Seattle:

Here’s a list of Seattle’s best parks for a stroll: Carkeek Park, Discovery Park, Green Lake Park, Kubota Garden, Lincoln Park, Magnuson Park, Seward Park, Union Bay Natural Area, Washington Park Arboretum. For more on parks, check out this story.