An outdoor lover’s guide to Seattle

Photo of Seattle courtesy of Jonathon Colman/Flickr
Photo of Seattle courtesy of Jonathon Colman/Flickr

Just because you’re in a city doesn’t mean you’re removed from outdoor adventure. In fact, it can mean that you’ve got even more options just a bus ride or train stop away. Welcome to a series about how to get outside when you’re in an urban area. Stop number one: Seattle, where the mountains and the Puget Sound meet right at the city limits.

Mountain bike: The Northwest, with is winding trails and tacky dirt. is mountain biking heaven; there’s good riding almost everywhere in the area. But there’s surprisingly good riding in the city, and just outside. In town, hit the I-5 Colonnade bike park, which has a pump track, a bunch of jumps and features, and a little cross-country trail. Just on the east side of the lake, in Issaquah, the Duthie Hill mountain bike park has winding trails for every level, and features that range from little log rides to huge drops. You won’t feel like you’re in the suburbs at all. They were both built by the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, the local advocacy and trail building group, which does a really good job.

Climb: The Mountaineers, a hundred-year-old outdoor organization, is one of the biggest recreational groups in the city. They lead climbing, hiking, and skiing trips all around but they also have a free outdoor climbing wall in Magnuson Park on the shore of Lake Washington. The Magnuson wall is built into the side of the building and it has cracks and chimneys, so you can practice all types of climbing. It’s free and open to the public, but it’s occasionally closed down for classes or training sessions. Get details and look at the schedule here.

Biking the I-5 Colonnade. Photo: Evergreen MTB Alliance
Biking the I-5 Colonnade. Photo by Evergreen MTB Alliance

Skate: Seattle is in the process of carrying out a citywide skateparks plan. They’ve put in nine parks across the city, and later this month they’re slated to open a Red Bull-funded one in Jefferson Park. A collaboration between pro skater Torey Pudwill and artist C.J. Rench, it will consist of skateable pieces of public art. Soon you’ll be able to skate when the weather is crappy—there’s an indoor skatepark in the works in the evo building in Wallingford.

Paddle: Seattle is a water town through and through, which means there’s lots of good boating. Kayak or paddleboard around Lake Union, where you can peep into the windows of the “Sleepless in Seattle” house and watch sea planes land right on south lake.

Trail run: The trails in Discovery Park, a former military base in Magnolia, range from flat sandy bluff tops to steep windy sections that feel like a rainforest, to beachfront property. They’re diverse and beautiful, and you won’t feel like you’re in a city at all.

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