If you love running and exercising outdoors then Seattle is the place you want to be. There are amazing views everywhere, the city has a ton of parks and it has a long history in preservation of its rich green areas. From Lincoln Park to Discovery, there are amazing parks with many possibilities for runs from beginner level to serious trainers and athletes. Below, I’ve picked a few of my favorites that are spread across different areas of Seattle and provide options for every type of runner.
Alki Beach Trail (West Seattle)
Alki Beach Trail (map) in West Seattle is a beautiful destination for all sorts of activities and views of downtown Seattle across Elliott Bay. Truly, these are some of the most stunning views of Seattle one can find. The trail is a multi-use paved trail with no elevation gain that travels along the Elliott Bay Waterfront, keeping close to Harbor Ave up to the Duwamish Head and continuing south on Alki Avenue. The trail is 5 to 7 miles round trip, depending on where you start and how far you go. It is an in-and-back trip that most people start on Harbor Ave SW, near the West Seattle Bridge. where parking is easier found. The Alki Ave SW portion of Alki is the beach area which attracts a lot of people with its sandy beach, shops, and restaurants. However, if you do start at the Alki Beach end of the trail, you can follow the mileage markers that the West Seattle Running Club paints along the trail. There are 4 miles of markers in 1/4 increments from the start of the paved trail on Alki Ave SW to all the way to the West Seattle Bridge.
- Best Views of Downtown Seattle and Puget Sound
- Occasional sightings of seals, sea lions, bald eagles, hawks, and other wildlife
- Mileage Markers
- Flat and paved, good for all levels of running.
- Attracts a lot of people, especially on sunny summer days
- Parking on the Alki Ave SW end of the trail can be very difficult to find
- It can be quite windy at times, adding some interesting challenges to your run
Green Lake Park (North Seattle)
Green Lake Park (map) is a very popular park just north of the city which attracts all sorts of people for all types of exercise. If you want to bicycle, roller blade, run on a trail, play basketball or soccer, kayak, Stand Up Paddle board; well you can do that all here and more. It really is something to see on a summer day when there are so many different activities going on. For runners, the park offers two distinct trails. The outer trail is a 3.2-mile dirt trail with little elevation change but it’s a perfect 5k and the trail mostly just has runners using it. The inner trail is a 2.5-mile paved loop that has a separation for pedestrians and people on wheels. For runners looking for more challenge, the south end of Green Lake Park is connected to Woodland park, which has a few trails with more elevation changes. You can add distance and elevation to your run easily by incorporating Woodland into your runs.
- Great views
- Options for beginners and more experienced runners
- Perfect 5k around outer loop
- Mileage marked on inner loop
- Nice places to relax in the grass and trees after working out
- This park gets very busy so parking at the park parking lots gets crazy. Street parking on the southeast side of the lake is usually best.
- The paved trail can get quite busy with people moving at different speeds, or not moving at all
Lincoln Park (South West Seattle)
Variety, amazing views, and quiet hide-aways – Lincoln Park (map) has something for everybody. It is a very large wooded park with a mile-long beach line on the South Puget Sound. It is popular for picnics, walking, hiking, running, and even swimming. In fact, it has an awesome outdoor salt water pool out on the point of the beach that is very popular for swimming. For runners, it has a network of trails in the forested area and the bluffs that give the runner plenty of options for mapping out runs including elevation changes and stairs to make things more challenging. It also has a mile-long paved path along the beach line. This path provides beautiful views of the South Puget sound with ferries and sailboats in the foreground and the Olympic Mountain range in the background. The forested paths are usually light traffic even on nice days where the rest of the park can be quite busy. The waterfront path, swimming pool, and picnic areas bring a bunch of visitors in the summer days, so be prepared to compete for parking, though you can still enjoy light-traffic trails after you park.
- Variety of trails with not much traffic and good elevation change options
- Some of the best views in Seattle
- Quiet relaxing areas for post workout snacking
- Crowds in the popular areas during summer months
- Ferry traffic
Discovery Park (Northwest Seattle)
Discovery Park (map) is the largest park in Seattle that I know of. The views of the north sound and the lighthouse are second-to-none and the trails offer plenty of options and the most challenging elevation changes of the parks in the city. There are options to put together several miles of good trail running with amazing views. You might even see some wildlife such as seals and bald eagles. The main challenges here are from the elevation changes but there is plenty of park to run around and most trails have light traffic. Highly recommend this park for the views of the lighthouse and the north Sound.
- Several routes with lighter traffic
- Some tougher elevation changes
- Beautiful views of North Puget sound
- Ample parking
- Not much here for beginners as there are few easy paved or flat trails
Seward Park (Southeast Seattle)
If you want to try something on the south-east side of Seattle, Seward Park (map) is a great destination for views of Lake Washington. For runners, there are dirt trails through the forests of the peninsula, and a paved loop along the shoreline. The paved loop is 2.5 miles but can be adjusted for 3 miles. This is a popular park in the summer and sometimes has bigger events at its amphitheater, so check ahead of time because parking will be restricted for the big events.
- 2.5 Mile Loop, very scenic views
- Mix of dirt trails with elevation changes
- Beautiful views of Lake Washington
- Parking can get restricted for bigger events
Plenty of Room to Run
Seattle is an amazing place if you like to exercise outdoors. There are so many parks with many levels of difficulty and rewards of beautiful views. It sounds like I keep repeating myself when I say that a place has amazing views, because there are amazing views everywhere here, and there’s plenty of room to run! Now, go out and find some!