Spring has sprung and with it comes the desire to take a walk through the woods while exploring a bit of nature. While packing up the backpack and driving a few hours away to really enjoy nature is awesome, sometimes you just have enough time to enjoy a quick hike. Here are Seattle Refined's favorite in-city locations for hikes that are less than 3 miles but full of wonder. Most of these hikes are beginner and family friendly but are also alluring to more experienced hikers, looking for a quick walk.
1. Schmitz Preserve Park: West Seattle, 1.7 miles roundtrip
Schmitz Preserve Park is easy to miss as you wind your through Admiral way toward Alki Beach. Blink your eyes and you'll soon be over the bridge entrance to the park. There are a few entrances to the preserve but parking near the bridge provides ample parking and an easy staircase entrance. Official park hours are daily, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The 53.1 acre park is home to an astonishing number of old growth trees. Formed from land donated to the city between 1908 and 1912, the preserve's land was luckily preserved before being completely logged. German immigrants Ferdinand and Emma Schmitz donated the largest parcel. Ferdinand served on the park commission and wanted to preserve the forest in its natural state.
The 1.7 miles of hiking trails make for great exploration. Take time to find the alligator carved from fallen old growth wood and peer high up into the tops of trees. Meander along the mostly maintained trails but more adventurous explorers might enjoy finding the smaller trails. The park does not have any trail signs so printing a trail map in advance is advised. Strollers are not advised due to the muddy nature of the trails in the Spring.
2. Carkeek Park: North Seattle, 3 miles roundtrip
Carkeek Park is a Seattle Refined favorite and features over 220 acres of lush forest, meadows, wetlands and beach while offering phenomenal views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, along with a yearly outdoor art exhibition.
Established in 1928, Carkeek Park literally has everything for the outdoor enthusiast. Hikers can amble along the over 6 miles of trails while checking out the restored salmon spawning population, urban streams and follow along with the Pipers Canyon Story Trail. Additionally quite a few trails are ADA accessible which means they are also great for strollers.
3. Seward Park: Southeast Seattle, 2.4 miles roundtrip
Seward Park has over 300 acres of forest land and is home to eagles' nests, old growth forest, an amphitheater and a native plant garden along with a 2.4 mile bike and walking path, perfect for an afternoon stroll, with or without a stroller.
Hikers within Seward Park will be delighted to experience trees that are older than 250 years. There is no other forest within the city limits of Seattle, like the one in Seward Park, featuring trees such as Douglas Firs, Western Hemlocks, Pacific Madrona and Alaskan Cedar. The park was named for U.S. Secretary of State William Seward and occupies all of Bailey Peninsula along the shores of Lake Washington.
4. Discovery Park: Magnolia Neighborhood, 2.8 miles roundtrip
The largest park in Seattle also offers some of the most spacious trails, hosting just over 11 miles of hiking trails. Located in Magnolia, Discovery Park is officially open 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. The most popular trail is the Discovery Park Loop Trail which is a designated National Recreation Trail, 2.8 miles in length with an elevation change of just 140 feet. The loop takes hikers through both forest and open meadows and can be explored by both hikers and runners year-round. Strollers can make their way through the loop but are not always recommended in the mud of Spring.
The 534 acres of the park are situated over most of the former Fort Lawton military base. Sitting on the Magnolia Bluff, Discovery Park offers spectacular views of both the Cascades and Olympic Mountain ranges, as well as Mount Rainier and Mount Baker. The over two miles of protected tidal beaches allow for a delightful walk to the Discovery Park lighthouse.
5. Cowen/Ravenna Park: Ravenna Neighborhood, 3 miles roundtrip
Cowen and Ravenna Parks merge into each other to form a contiguous wooded ravine and green space. With several access points to the trails, the over 3 miles of trails traverse through a 0.75-mile stretch of ravine with depths as deep as 115 feet. Providing an architectural backdrop to the ravine are the two bridges crossing it along 15th Ave NE and 20th Ave NE.
The park is open from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. and is a uniquely urban nature area with sturdy asphalt and gravel trails. Strollers are perfect for this hike. Park flora include Douglas Fir, Maple, Red Cedar and Western Hemlock and was acquired by the city from Realtor W.W. Beck in 1911.
6. Washington Park Arboretum: Madison Park, 3 miles roundtrip
The 230+ acres of lush and diverse greenery in the Washington Park Arboretum along with miles of bike paths, hiking and running trails offer a tranquil and magical respite from busy Seattle. The hiking trails are perfect for an afternoon amble. One of the most popular thoroughfares is Azalea Way, a three mile roundtrip hike, which is wildly popular in the springtime due to its' unique tapestry of azaleas in a variety of colors. Strollers can be accommodated on most of the trails within the Arboretum.