Offering mild weather, hundreds of miles of trails, and gorgeous views everywhere of water, skyline and mountains, Seattle is a serious running town. It’s got numerous active running clubs, interconnected pedestrian trails throughout the city, and epic trail runs just outside town (some even in the city limits).
“Seattle is one of the very best cities for runners that I’ve ever visited,” says two-time Olympian Nick Symmonds, a recent Seattle transplant. “There’s a huge network of trails, and if you know where you’re going, you can run miles and miles through the city without almost ever having to touch asphalt.”
If you like to run and you can tolerate getting wet, Seattle is the place for you. Here are some of the city’s best spots.
Any discussion about running in Seattle should start with this 27-mile long urban pedestrian and bicycling trail that connects many parts of Northern Seattle, and hugs the shoreline for much of its length. (Brooks Running’s swank headquarters overlooking Lake Union, in Fremont, sits along this trail.) It runs from the Puget Sound past Lake Union and alongside Lake Washington, passing through numerous neighborhoods. Many parts of the trail have a dirt path alongside the asphalt. The route also features mile markers. And given that it runs along the water, it’s also very flat.
One of Seattle’s main recreational parks, Green Lake also features 2.8-mile paved and off-road trails around the circular lake that host hundreds of runners every day, and several 5Ks throughout the year. It’s in north Seattle, and connects easily to the Burke-Gilman and other spots via green belts down the middle of many roads in the neighborhood. Woodland Park, adjacent to the lake, offers various paths and hosts cross country races in the fall.
Washington Park Arboretum
The Arb is a 230-acre horticultural paradise near the University of Washington campus, on the other side of the Montlake Cut, and east of Capitol Hill. Full of rare trees and plants, it’s a nice urban oasis that’s easily accessible (including via the Burke-Gilman trail).
This heart-shaped lake that divides Seattle is actually almost an exact 10K around. In fact, there’s even an annual race, the Lake Union 10K, that circumnavigates the shoreline. Like many spots in Seattle, you’ll see views of the skyline, as well as the Olympic Mountains to the west, Mount Rainier to the southeast, and all the activity happening on the water.
Seattle’s largest public park sits on a peninsula jutting out into the Puget Sound, and offers 11.8 miles of trails in wooded and open areas. There are hundreds of species of birds as well as diverse wildlife, and even some clothing-optional beaches in the more remote parts of the shoreline if that’s your thing.
Bonus! 5 More Places…
Seward Park: A thumb-shaped peninsula south of the city that juts into Lake Washington near Mercer Island, Seward Park is yet another of Seattle’s urban parks that’s home to old-growth forests, miles of trails, and the chance to run along the waterfront.
Volunteer Park: Closer to the city center, Volunteer Park is the main park in Seattle’s vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood. There are trails, paved paths and the elegant all-glass Volunteer Park Conservatory.
Waterfront/Olympic Sculpture Park: Downtown visitors and residents can run several miles out and back along the Puget Sound from Olympic Sculpture Park north past the Seattle Center, home to the Space Needle, Experience Music Project and other attractions, and on through Myrtle Edwards Park.
Lincoln Park: South Seattle also has its own urban waterfront park with beachy shoreline in Lincoln Park, located on the Puget Sound, near the Vashon Island ferry building in Fauntleroy.
Trails: Seattle has numerous trails in and around town for all abilities. In addition to Discovery Park, the Arboretum and Seward Park in town, the East Side (the all-encompassing name given to the suburbs on the other side of Lake Washington) is home to the region’s most famous trails. These include the 1,600-foot Cougar Mountain (where the Seattle Running Club hosts a long-running trail race series, as well as the more challenging 2,000-foot Squak Mountain and 3,000-foot Tiger Mountain, both nearby. Elsewhere on the lush East Side is the Redmond Watershed, a large open-space temperate rainforest spanning 800 acres, and perfect for a long run.
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