Burke Gilman Trail

The Main Drag

Gets You From  Ballard to Kenmore

Best Traveled  On a slow-cruiser bike you’d ordinarily spot on a beachfront boardwalk—but not when crowds choke the path on summer weekends.

Road Blocks  Though the trail starts at the beach in Ballard, there’s a hole between the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and the Ballard Bridge; otherwise the route is well signed at crossings and happily removed from the streets.

Stops and Sights  Seattle’s classic trail—about nine feet wide and dimpled with bumps raised by tree roots—has no shortage of stopping points on its 27-mile trip, which starts at the sandy expanse of Golden Gardens. Without leaving the paved route, there are mile-wide views of the sound that give way to a leafy canopy that protects the Burke-Gilman from nearby houses. In other places the trail parallels Bothell Way for an energizing, if loud, urban cycle.

Stop along the Ship Canal (try Gas Works Park), cruise through the University of Washington campus (explore the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture), and trace the western shore of Lake Washington (top-notch fantasy house hunting). The reward: The taproom at 192 Brewing Company near the Burke-Gilman’s eastern end has a fireplace indoors and a beer garden outside, just feet from the trail. 192brewing.com/lake-trail-taproom

Parks with Trails

Discovery Park

Nearly a dozen miles of trails loop the erstwhile Fort Lawton, including wooded hiking paths and 5 miles of old paved roads for cyclists.

Green Lake

When you’re game to mingle (or mangle) with humanity, brave the crowded 2.8-mile loop—pavement for bikes, crushed granite for runners—that serves as the city’s backyard, workout space, playground, dog run, Frisbee lawn, and boat launch.

Carkeek Park

Walk the Pipers Canyon Story Trail for a self-guided tale of natural and human history, or stroll 6 miles of trails along wetlands and waterfront bluffs.

Washington Park Arboretum

The well-manicured walking paths through the botanic gardens pass 230 acres, multiple resting shelters, and more than 20,000 flowers and plants, plus marshy Duck Bay near the 520 bridge. Bikes can use the park’s roads, closed to cars.

Seward Park

More than 5 miles of trails crisscross the tiny peninsula on Lake Washington, with a 2.4-mile paved loop for biking along the water; the interior paths are for strolling only.

 

This article appeared in the April 2014 issue of Seattle Met Magazine.

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