The 7 Best Seattle Area Running Spots

Seattle may not be most people’s first thought when considering great places to run, but its reputation just hasn’t caught up to it yet. Seattle, and its closely surrounding areas, offer something for any type of runner, whether you’re a social or loner runner, opt for flat or hills, or prefer cement or trials.

Burke-Gilman Trail
Beginning at Golden Garden’s Beach, this 18.8-mile paved path is a fun way to tour Seattle. Some of the highlighted areas it touches include: the Ballard locks, the trendy Freemont neighborhood, the University of Washington campus, husky stadium, Matthew’s Beach, and eventually north of Seattle to the city of Bothell, where it intersects with the Sammamish River Trail. Although some sections of the Burke-Gilman are more popular than others, you’ll be hard pressed to find a time when there isn’t at least a few other runners, cyclists, and commuter on it, making it a fun social running spot and potentially safer.

Green Lake
This is Seattle’s go-to running spot, as it’s convenient, beautiful, flat, and only 3 miles around. It is the beginning runner’s and weekend runner’s dream spot, while still attracting more advanced runners for it’s convenience, paved path, and set distance for time trails and intervals. It also doesn’t hurt that great bars, restaurants, a community center, and two running stores are all within two blocks of the lake itself.

Carkeek Park
This may be the most unassuming gold mine for trail running within the Seattle city limits. The park entrance is at the bottom of a long downhill decent from neighborhood streets; just when it feels like the road will twist on forever, you hit the parking lot and are staring at a gorgeous view of Puget Sound. The park is almost 220 acres, consisting of forest and trails over two large hills separated by fields and a salmon-themed play area for children. The brutally steep Carkeek hills are guaranteed to get you breathing hard within minutes, but the various vistas from the top make the hard work worth it. This is a wonderful place for a short-yet-challenging trail run or hilly interval work.

Discovery Park
It’s sometimes hard to remember you’re in Seattle when running at Discovery Park. The 2.8-mile loop consists of rolling hills, and open field, forest, and a view of the water that will take your breath away if you’re lucky enough to see it at sunrise or sunset. Heck, you can even venture down to a lighthouse and rocky beach if you’re willing to include a large hill in your run. In all honesty, it’s worth it!

Seward Park/Lake Washington Blvd.
Lake Washington Blvd. often feels like it goes on forever – but it’s one of those rare times when running that you really don’t mind. In fact, you kind of hope it won’t end, because the scenery is more than distracting – it’s amazing. Whether it’s a warm sunny day or pouring rain, you’re right along the waters of Lake Washington, heading toward the 2.4-mile loop around Seward Park, a massive mound of trees and short trails almost completely surrounded by water. The only down side to running Lake Washington Blvd. and Seward Park is having to look down and watch your footing, due to cracked cement trails and tree roots, because it means you have to take your eyes off the water.

Redmond Watershed Preserve
4.6 total miles of trails leaves plenty of opportunities to change up the loops and create a longer run without much repetition, yet it’s still enclosed enough that you (probably) won’t get lost. If you have the choice, this is a phenomenal run in the early fall, with all the surrounding colored leaves. Although there are a few reminders of its proximity to the city, such as occasional power lines and exposed water pipes, they are easy to look past and forget. It’s still a great deal for being located in the heart of Redmond and only a few minutes drive outside of Seattle city limits.

Cougar Mountain
For those adventure seekers wanting nothing to do with city views and cement trails, traveling just 12 miles out of Seattle on I-90 brings you to a trail runner’s Mecca. Although Cougar Mountain is the most mapped and best signed, it’s part of a group of mountains (Tiger Mountain, Squak Mountain, Taylor Mountain, and Rattlesnake Mountain) all butted up to one another and all offering trails of varying difficulty, but also with beautiful views of old growth and second-growth forest, valleys, and hidden water sources.

By: Audra Rundle