Urban Hiking or Pretending You’re in Nature While Still in the City

Urban hiking is the unsung hero of outdoor activities. Why go through the hassle of escaping the city when you can just trudge through it?

Welcome to my guide on urban hikes in and around Seattle, where nature and concrete collide in a dance of convenience and mild exercise.

Here, I’ll walk you through some of the most “exciting” trails, parks, and urban landscapes that Seattle has to offer.

Buckle up, because we’re about to discover the essence of nature right under our noses, without ever having to leave the comfort of WiFi zones and coffee shops.

Carkeek Park

Urban hiking tips

Ah, Carkeek Park in Broadview. If you’ve ever wanted to enjoy the beach on Puget Sound without the joy of a long road trip, this is your spot.

You get to witness Piper’s Creek Orchard, a historical gem that’s almost as old as your grandma.

The views of the Olympic Mountains are, well, there—if the weather cooperates.


  • A beach that’s almost clean enough to sit on.
  • Piper’s Creek Orchard, where you can pretend to appreciate history.
  • Olympic mountain views are breathtaking, sometimes.

Trail Features:

  • Historical orchard: Because nothing says “urban hike” like old trees.
  • Woodland trails: Perfect for a semi-nature experience without leaving the city.

It’s a park that offers just enough nature to remind you why you love city life.

Golden Gardens

Located in Ballard, Golden Gardens gives you beachfront vibes with the bonus of wetlands and a fishing pier.

If you enjoy steep trails and occasional views of the Olympic Mountains, this might just be your personal heaven.


  • Beachfront: Sand, water, and maybe a clean spot to sit.
  • Wetlands: Muddy patches that make you appreciate dry land.
  • Fishing pier: For watching other people catch fish.

Trail Features:

  • Steep trails: Get ready to question your fitness levels.
  • Views of the Olympic Mountains: When the clouds decide to part.

Golden Gardens is the place where you can walk, sweat, and ponder why you left your couch in the first place.

Magnuson Park

Urban nature walks

In Magnuson Park, the waterfront on Lake Washington offers an urban beach experience, just in case you forgot what real beaches are like.

Wooded trails and views of Mount Rainier make this a pseudo-nature lover’s paradise.


  • Waterfront: Because who needs an ocean?
  • Urban beach: Sand, water, and maybe a few less cigarette butts.
  • Views of Mount Rainier: Majestic and often obscured by clouds.

Trail Features:

  • Wooded trails: For when you want to feel adventurous but not too adventurous.
  • More views of Mount Rainier: If you’re lucky.

Magnuson Park is perfect for those who love nature but hate leaving the city.

Union Bay Natural Area

Union Bay Natural Area in the University District is where wetlands meet bird watching. Flat, easy trails make this spot ideal for those who prefer their hikes without inclines.


  • Wetlands: Where you can marvel at nature’s swampy glory.
  • Bird watching: For the patient and easily entertained.
  • Views of Lake Washington and Mount Rainier: Because why not?

Trail Features:

  • Flat, easy trails: No need to break a sweat.
  • Scenic views: If you squint hard enough.

Union Bay Natural Area is perfect for when you want to experience nature without any real effort.

Lake Washington Waterside Trail

Hiking in the city

In Montlake, the Lake Washington Waterside Trail offers shoreline views and a smattering of wildlife. This easy urban hike is for those days when you want to pretend to enjoy nature.


  • Shoreline views: Water, water, everywhere.
  • Wildlife: Birds, maybe a squirrel if you’re lucky.

Trail Features:

  • Easy urban hike: Because walking shouldn’t be hard.
  • Along the lake: Stay close to the water in case you need to cool off.

This trail is perfect for an effortless nature fix.

Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop

Urban trail adventures

The Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop covers multiple neighborhoods, offering downtown views and glimpses of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier.

It’s a 3-mile loop of urban exploration.


  • Downtown views: Tall buildings and traffic.
  • Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier: On a clear day, you might see them.
  • Parks and waterfront paths: For variety.

Trail Features:

  • 3-mile loop: Just long enough to feel like exercise.
  • Scenic spots: Great for Instagram.

Perfect for the urban hiker who loves cityscapes and nature, this loop lets you have your cake and eat it too.

Olympic Sculpture Park

Nature in urban areas

Downtown’s Olympic Sculpture Park combines art with waterfront trails. Sculptures and easy walks make this a cultural and natural blend.


  • Sculptures: Art that you can pretend to understand.
  • Waterfront trails: Simple paths with water views.
  • Views of Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains: When it’s not foggy.

Trail Features:

  • Easy walk: No strain, no gain.
  • Art and nature combo: For the cultured hiker.

This park is great for a stroll that’s as stimulating mentally as it is physically.

Seward Park

Urban exploration hikes

In South Seattle, Seward Park offers Lake Washington shoreline and forested trails. A wide paved trail and beach area make it versatile for different hiking preferences.


  • Lake Washington shoreline: More water, more fun.
  • Forested trails: Real trees, real shade.

Trail Features:

  • Wide paved trail: For an easy, breezy walk.
  • Beach area: Sand and water without the hassle of travel.

Seward Park is where you can have a forest and a beach without leaving the city limits.

Alki Beach Trail

West Seattle’s Alki Beach Trail offers Puget Sound views and an urban beach experience. It’s a 3-mile trail with shops and cafes along the shoreline.


  • Puget Sound views: Water and mountains, the usual.
  • Urban beach: Sand and city mix.
  • Shops and cafes: For mid-hike snacks.

Trail Features:

  • 3-mile trail: Long enough to justify dessert.
  • Shoreline walk: Scenic and social.

Alki Beach Trail is for those who want a side of shopping with their hike.

Elliot Bay Park

City walking trails

Elliot Bay Park in downtown Seattle features views of Mount Rainier and a waterfront. The short hike connects to other parks for extended adventures.


  • Views of Mount Rainier: When the weather is in your favor.
  • Waterfront: Classic Seattle vibes.

Trail Features:

  • Short hike: Quick and easy.
  • Park connections: For more walking options.

Perfect for a quick escape into nature without leaving downtown, Elliot Bay Park offers a blend of urban and natural sights.

So there you have it, my guide to urban hiking in Seattle. It’s nature without the hassle of leaving the city, just the way we city folk like it. Enjoy your hikes, or at least pretend to!

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