Seattle has more hills than you might expect, meaning the decision to head out on a run through a nearby neighborhood could be a bit more challenging than you’d like. Thankfully, there are plenty of local trails, green spaces, and parks prime for running all throughout the city. Better still, a lot of them are nice and flat.
Whether you’re looking to start running or simply searching for a new sweat spot, here are the places to hit the ground running in the heart of Seattle.
Often overlooked, Myrtle Edwards Park is one of the most scenic and easily accessed places to run in the city. Starting at the north end of the downtown waterfront (which you can also run along easily), this 1.8-mile trail (one way) takes you out along the shores of Elliott Bay with views of the Olympic Range and Peninsula. If you want to extend the run, take the trail past the cruise ship port to the marina — that’ll net you 3.8 miles (one way).
Most people think the Burke-Gilman Trail is for cycling, but this 27-mile trail is great for a long run. The trail technically runs from Ballard to Bothell, and along the way passes through Fremont, the U-District, Sand Point, and Roosevelt, making it both scenic and the perfect length if you’re training for a really long race.
The 2.8-mile loop around Green Lake is like the gold standard for runs in Seattle: it’s well-paved, flat, surrounded by beautiful greenery, and on a sunny day, it’s very crowded. One of the most popular routes for formal 5K races, you’ll often have company while running near Green Lake, and that doesn’t even count the cyclists, boaters, and rollerbladers who also enjoy this little oasis for fitness in north Seattle.
To be honest, there’s no one specific trail you should run when you go to Washington Park Arboretum. There are miles of trails that twist and wind among the rare, protected trees, and you could probably train here year-round without getting tired of the scenery. In addition to forested areas, there are also gardens and wetlands. Though, we wouldn’t recommend running through the latter.
Lots of people run the Lake Union 10K each summer because the trail that loops this lake is almost exactly 6.1-miles. Along the way, you’ll pass Gas Works Park, cross the Fremont and University bridges, and run past Mohai and the Center for Wooden Boats. You’ll also get spectacular views of downtown Seattle at several points along the run. Sounds like 6.1-miles of heaven… on a sunny day.
The formal running trail through Discovery Park has an official running trail that’s 2.8 miles, but there are over five more miles of cut-throughs and alternate routes if you’re looking for something longer. There are also hills, sand dunes, wooded areas, and meadows, making this one of the best ‘urban trail running’ spots in the city.
Volunteer Park isn’t for those of you that are training for marathons, but it’s a nice change of scenery. If you complete the loop around the park on quiet trails and residential streets, you can log a number of 0.6-mile loops. Or, you can cut through to extend your run and mix up the scenery with beautiful architecture, such as the glass Conservatory or Art Deco Asian Art Museum.
Running along Alki Beach trail on a warm Seattle day, you might almost forget you’re up in the northwest corner of the US; it’s so similar to Venice Beach and other trails along the beaches near LA! This two-mile, flat-as-a-pancake route wraps around the northeast corner of Alki in the shadows of residential West Seattle. You can run a there-and-back, or stop for a mid-run snack at one of the delicious restaurants and bars that are now popping up along the sandy stretch of Alki Beach.
Shielded against traffic, this mostly flat, paved, winding road runs through the lush Interlaken Park between Cap Hill and Montlake. It’s easy to come here a typical Seattle day (misty) with your rain slicker and some study shoes to mix it up, dipping in and out of the wooded trails or sticking with a classic all-paved out-and-back. End to end, the boulevard is right around a mile.