6 Great Seattle Trail Runs
It may not be Tracktown, USA, but Seattle is quickly gaining a reputation for being a running city. With a burgeoning ultramarathon scene started by a former local, Scott Jurek, and a newly formed elite track club, the Brooks Beasts, the Emerald City offers temperate weather, mountain and water views, and miles of trails on which to train. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or an Olympic hopeful, you won’t have to look far to find an urban run with soft surfaces and great views without ever leaving the city limits.
1. Ravenna Park: Walking past the numerous shops and restaurants of the bustling Ravenna and Roosevelt neighborhoods, you’d never know that you’re steps away from the peaceful trails in this deep, forested ravine. Carved out by glacial melt, the trails in this park run along a creek bed 100-feet deep, shaded by native maples and Douglas firs. The main trail cuts diagonally through the park and is just shy of a mile, but there are a handful of connector and side trails for added distance. On hot summer days, there’s no better place to take respite from the heat.
2. Green Lake: Take your pick between a 2.8-mile paved inner loop (be warned: you will be constantly dodging walkers and strollers) and a concentric 3.2-mile crushed–gravel outer loop around this natural freshwater lake. Green Lake serves as the site of dozens of local races, and the surrounding neighborhood is home to several specialty running stores. Still not tired after your run? Rent a stand-up paddleboard or a kayak from the community boathouse.
3. Magnuson Park: This former Navy airfield is now home to sports fields, tennis courts and one of Seattle’s largest off-leash dog runs. Its 350 acres are also a great spot for runners to take in gorgeous views of Lake Washington and the Cascade mountain range. A local running group, Club Northwest, hosts a year-round series of races here, ranging in distance from 5k to a half marathon.
4. Washington Park Arboretum: Running on Washington Park Arboretum’s trails takes you past literally tens of thousands of trees. The 240-acre park is part of the University of Washington’s Botanic Garden, and features a Japanese Garden and plants from around the world. For a longer run, head north onto the Arboretum Waterfront Trail, which takes you out along a boardwalk on the surface of Lake Washington and gives you an easy connection to Union Bay Natural Area. This short loop behind Husky Stadium passes an area where turtles often sun themselves on logs by the water.
5. Burke-Gilman Trail: For flat, fast, tempo runs, the Burke-Gilman is a good choice. This 27-mile-long rail trail extends from Seattle’s western Ballard neighborhood all the way over to the north side of Lake Washington. The segment from the city’s eccentric Fremont neighborhood to the University District takes you eastward along the shores of Lake Union, past Gas Works Park, and is a favorite among locals. End your run at Fremont Brewing Company for a post-workout reward.
6. Discovery Park: The largest urban park in Seattle, Discovery Park’s 530 acres include more than 10 miles of trails, varying from forested singletrack to wooded stairways overlooking the shores of Puget Sound. The park is teeming with life, and bald eagles nesting near the water are not an uncommon sight. The main Loop Trail is challenging enough for the average runner, but serious runners will get a workout by adding on the beach loops and their quad-busting climbs. They’ll also be rewarded with unbeatable waterfront views and (in the summer) bushes sagging with as many ripe blackberries as you could ever eat.