Running around Seattle’s Seward Park, I felt as if I shared a particular sense of camaraderie with everyone else I came across. I had the strong suspicion that they all had the same thing on their minds that I did: “How can we have it so good?”
What Makes It Great
The 277-acre park encompasses the entire peanut-shaped Bailey Peninsula, which juts into Lake Washington from the city’s southeast side. There’s a 2.4-mile paved (but car-free) loop around the park. Walking it counter-clockwise, you’ll have views across Lake Washington the entire way that are sure to make you a proud Seattleite: First Mt. Rainier and the Boeing plant to the south, then the wooded Mercer Island to the east and, finally, the skyscrapers of downtown poking over the horizon to the north.
Don’t go in expecting the burliest of workouts: not only is the loop fairly short, it is pretty much level the whole way around. But if you are feeling more interested in something short and sweet with fantastic views than in pushing your limits, Seward Park will do you just fine. If you do want to wrap it into a longer run, you can tack on a few extra miles on the Lake Washington Boulevard Trail.
Running or walking this route, called Shore Loop Road, is a definite highlight of the experiences available in the park. But there is even more than that to enjoy at Seward. To the north of the entrance, the stretch along Andrew’s Bay, the body of water between the peninsula and the mainland, is one of Seattle’s best lakeshore beaches. The non-profit Seward Park Clay Studio offers classes and galleries that showcase the work of local artists. The Seward Park Environmental & Audubon offer naturalist-training courses, organizes volunteer sessions to maintain the park, and posts logs of the recent wildlife sightings within the park. The amphitheater, within the center of the park, hosts concerts and events surrounded by a forest of Douglas firs and Western red cedars. There are also tennis courts, a playground, and picnic areas.
The park’s most prized feature is probably its 120 acres of primary forest: the only old-growth forest left within the city. It’s rumored that these upwards of 250 year-old trees were left be because loggers were turned off by the poison oak that covered the peninsula. Adding on some of the network dirt trails within the center of the peninsula to your run will take you alongside these gems. Keep in mind, however, that there is still poison oak here: extra incentive to stick to the paths.
Who is Going to Love It
Proud Seattle residents who want to revel in a piece of what makes their city so great.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Seward Park is at 5900 Lake Washington Blvd. S. There is plenty of parking by the clay studio and environmental center, with maps pointing you towards the trailheads by each.