Winters in Seattle can run the gamut from snow to frigidly dry cold to rain to clouds (all in the same week, to boot). However, in the mountains around us, all of that weather translates to snow by the foot, making many popular hikes out of the question. While some paths are great for snowshoeing, and there’s plenty of skiing to be had, sometimes I crave just walking in a scenic area–and why not when I have uncovered great paths and trails in the heart of my own city! Which brings us to the debate around urban hikes–is it ‘real’ hiking when you don’t need the ten essentials and can pop one block over to the nearest food truck for grub? I say why not!
Living in the city means I pound the pavement plenty already. I walk to the nearest convenience store, to the bus stop, to parks, and to nearby bars. In addition, every year I participate in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Overnight walk–a dusk-till-dawn 16-18 mile walking fundraiser that rotates location in major cities each year (this year I’ll be walking in Washington DC, for more information check out theovernight.org). So while hiking provides a pretty outlet for me to train my body for the Overnight, hiking on soft trails is not the same as walking on pavement.
My favorite urban hike to do in Seattle is the Cheshiahud Loop. This six-mile mostly-flat path encircles Lake Union and passes by famous Gasworks Park, P-Patches, houseboats, the Museum of History and Industry, and pocket parks along the way. If you are coming from afar, I’d recommend parking at Gasworks to start the loop. The signs couldn’t be easier to follow as you circle the lake–I usually go counter-clockwise around, but switching directions lets a whole new perspective. Keep an eye out for portions of the path that are shared with bicyclists–stay to the designated side for walkers and be prepared to move single-file right if you hear “On your left!” Most of the loop is well-lit, making it doable even in the short days of winter. Bonus to the trail–Fremont Brewing is across the street from the path close to Gasworks for a hoppy reward when you finish (I recommend the Session Pale Ale). If you start at Lake Union Park or elsewhere in SLU then I’d recommend El Chupacabra to end the walk with. One day my boyfriend and I will do a whole bar crawl along the loop–but we’re waiting for the summer for that. I’ll be sure to post a map when we do!
As I said above, you likely don’t need the ten essentials for most urban hikes, and this one is no exception. You are nearby plenty of businesses for stretches of the walk, with many others just a few blocks off the trail for whatever need may arise. While you could pop-into a nearby business to purchase a bottle of water, I usually bring my trusty Vapur collapsible bottle with me to stay green. It folds up when empty, and there are water fountains at Gasworks Park to refill it. You also won’t need hiking shoes for this mostly-paved path–any good running shoe will do (I use Brooks Ravennas or Adrenalines).
There are tons of other great urban hikes in Seattle I’ll be exploring as I train for the Overnight–what are some of your favorites?