Mother’s Day is the day moms get to choose how they want to spend it (or at least how they don’t want to spend it). If you’re looking for a fun post-brunch activity on May 13, consider taking your brood on an urban hike. Not only will everyone get fresh air and exercise, you may just get that family photo you’ve been waiting for all year. Scroll down to see the best urban hikes the Emerald City has to offer.
Discovery Park – Magnolia
With nearly 12 miles of paths and 534 acres to explore, Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest city park and offers stunning views of Puget Sound and the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. Take the three-mile loop trail for a nice overview of the park and sights of open meadows, beautiful forest groves, impressive sea cliffs, and active sand dunes (perfect for your little diggers, so don’t forget the pail and shovel). Or bring a kite and a picnic dinner to spread out in the meadow, and walk off your meal by taking a hike on the South Beach Trail to look for the lighthouse and sights of wildlife on the beach. This park is the epitome of urban hiking.
Park extra: The new brightly colored playground features tons of fun equipment designed for ages 2-12 and is the perfect place to either start or finish your urban hike. The playground is located in the same spot as the former one—behind the Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center and next to the tennis courts and basketball court. Follow the signs to the Learning Center and then the “foot prints” to the playground.
3801 Discovery Park Blvd.
Seattle, Wa 98199
Kubota Garden – South Seattle
If you’re looking for a peaceful and pretty walk, Kubota Garden is a must see for any mom who loves native plants and needs a little gardening inspiration. This 20-acre Japanese garden (created by Fujitaro Kubota, who also designed and landscaped the gardens on the Seattle University campus and the Bloedel Reserve’s Japanese Garden) showcases all the beauty of Northwest plants and flowers, with cascading waterfalls, burbling streams and bridges overlooking calm ponds, as well as easy walking paths (some are ADA and stroller accessible) through shaded stands of vibrant Japanese maples and flowering rhododendrons.
Follow the stroller-friendly path from the main entrance west, then north to the Heart Bridge, a replica of a traditional red bridge from Mr. Kubota’s home island. This hidden gem of a park, now owned and maintained by the City of Seattle, is free to the public, and self-guided tours are available with this easy to use map. Get out of the city without actually leaving the city at this calming and beautiful park.
9817 55th Ave. S.
Seattle, Wa 98118
Carkeek Park – North Seattle
Located in north Seattle, Carkeek Park is another favorite Seattle hiking destination. It offers about six miles of trail hiking, and you can even bring the stroller – a number of the trails are also wheelchair accessible. Check out the great viewpoints of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains along the North Bluff Trail; take a self-guided hike along the two mile Piper’s Canyon Story Trail (the upper half is ADA accessible); cross the railroad tracks by way of the overpass (especially thrilling when a train goes by!) to visit the beach.
Park extra: Make a stop at the playground, so the kids can slide through the belly of a salmon, a 19-foot slide in the shape of the Northwest’s favorite fish.
950 N.W. Carkeek Park Rd.
Seattle, Wa 98177
Lincoln Park – West Seattle
Located on the western edge of West Seattle, Lincoln Park offers five miles of trails, including a loop hike with a bluff and gorgeous beachfront views of Puget Sound, Vashon Island and the Olympic Mountains. Stick to the bike and stroller-friendly beachfront trail to enjoy stunning views of the ocean wildlife, say "hi" to the occasional harbor seal swimming offshore and watch the cargo ships and ferries passing by. There's also plenty of grassy areas to spread a picnic blanket and swings to keep the Littles happy.
Park extra: Take the connecting trails along the bluff to make your hike a 1.85 mile loop. Along the way, you’ll find two playgrounds (one with all new play equipment) and an awesome new zip line that will have your little monkey (and you) begging to return to.
8011 Fauntleroy Way S.W.
Seattle, Wa 98136
Seward Park – Southeast Seattle
Located in south Seattle, 300-acre Seward Park covers over two miles of lake shore and hosts Seattle’s largest old growth forest. After you’ve explored the bike and stroller-friendly 2.5 mile shoreline trail (checking out unparalleled views of Lake Washington, Mercer Island and Mount Rainier), head into the park’s magic “Magnificent Forest” (there’s a trailhead at the playground) and you’ll quickly discover how it got that name when you’re surrounded by giant trees, native plants and eagles, owls and great blue herons.
Park extra: Be sure to stop at the awesome playground at the main entrance. When the mountain’s out, the zip line’s view of Mount Rainier can’t be beat!
5895 Lake Washington Blvd. S
Seattle, Wa 98118
Washington Park Arboretum – Montlake
If you prefer a lovely floral backdrop to your Mother’s Day pictures and a casual stroll in place of a rigorous hike, then visit the 230-acre Washington Park Arboretum. Park at the Graham Visitor's Center on the north end and stroll Azalea Way, a spectacular .75-mile walk through flower paradise, ending at the Japanese Garden. Also, be sure to walk the half-mile Waterfront Trail through a wetland area to Foster Island. Let the kids master their “sea” legs on the floating walkways while you take in the view of Union Bay, Lake Washington, the University of Washington and Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. Check out their awesome trails map for even more hiking ideas.
Park extra: The Arboretum’s historic new two-mile bike-and-pedestrian loop is lined with 18 benches cast in a classic style from the 1939 New York World’s Fair and runs all the way from E. Madison St. to the Graham Visitors Center between Lake Washington Boulevard E. and the Arboretum’s iconic Azalea Way.
2300 Arboretum Dr. E.
Seattle, Wa 98122
Saint Edward State Park – Kenmore
OK, so we know Saint Edward State Park isn’t technically in Seattle. But it’s only about 30 minutes north of Seattle (about five miles from Kirkland), and hosts 316 acres of woodlands, meadows and beach, plus 14 walking/hiking/mountain biking trails, 3,000 feet of undeveloped Lake Washington shoreline and a fantastic playground---perfect for a day of exploring with your favorite mama.
We recommend the Seminary Trail (hike #4 on the map) down to the beach for the hearty hikers in your crew. It’s a bit steep, but totally worth it for the lake views and possible otter and bald eagle sightings.
Good to know: There are pit toilets at the beach for those who gotta go, and Bob-type strollers would be OK on this trail (if you don’t mind pushing!).
14445 Juanita Dr. N.E.
Kenmore, WA 98028
Where is your favorite place to hike with your kids in the city? Tell us in the comments below!
—Kristina Moy & Erin Cranston