Seattle Emerald City

From soaring cliffs of towering evergreens, giant ferns, and sprawling undergrowth at Lincoln, Discovery, and Carkeek parks dotting the shores of Puget Sound to the magnificent boulevards and parks of the Olmsted legacy outlining the beauty of Lake Washington, Seattle is a city of trees. A simple walk or drive in any direction in any neighborhood will yield unrivaled views of mountain and water framed by lushness no matter the season.

The beauty of Seattle is that it has it all. Starting with a visit to West Seattle, take a drive along popular Alki with its panoramic view of downtown Seattle around the point to saltwater beaches where passing ferries lead the eye towards the picturesque peninsula and majestic Olympic Range beyond. Stop at Schmitz Preserve Park to find wrens and warblers flitting about an old growth forest hugging the hillside. Continue south past the Lighthouse to the viewpoint with its crashing waves and on down to Lincoln Park where steep paths lead from driftwood-strewn beaches up through tall stands of fir and maple to cliff-hugging views of Puget Sound.

Head due east to the south end of Lake Washington and Seward Park where you can catch a glimpse of Seattle as it used to be with mature stands of native firs, cedars, and oaks growing among swaths of sword fern, Indian plum, and oceanspray. From there take in the Olmsted legacy along the stunning drive of Lake Washington Boulevard where the romance of twisting turns and sudden views of Mount Rainier and the mighty Cascade Range are framed by the sparkling blue water of the lake. Hidden stairs and trails winding among Frink, Colman, and Lakeview parks continually tickle the eye with enchanting beauty that changes flavor with each season. Follow the boulevard to Washington Park Arboretum and take in the Japanese garden and various collections of trees and shrubs from around the globe.

Cross Montlake Cut which divides the city north and south and find yourself at the University of Washington’s natural area at Union Bay where a view of Mount Rainier and the Arboretum are accompanied by bald eagles, osprey, and red-tailed hawks soaring over ponds, meadows, and the wide bay below with blue herons, wood ducks, and kingfishers finding refuge among cattails and water-lilies. Follow the Burke-Gilman trail up to Magnuson Park jutting out into the middle of Lake Washington where wetlands and native planting programs are bringing the land back to life.

Walk the circuit around Green Lake and lose yourself in Woodland Park below the Zoo, or head back west to Puget Sound to walk the beach at low tide from Golden Gardens north to Carkeek where paths meander along Pipers Creek turning left and right into hiking trails hidden amid steep ravines lined with cedars and birch.

Back across the canal explore Magnolia along the bluff where views range from downtown and Mount Rainier to Elliot Bay, West Seattle, Puget Sound, and the Olympics, then head to Discovery park with its Indian Cultural Center and miles of trails amid yet more views.

Not tired yet? Continue on and walk the shore at Elliot Bay along Myrtle Edwards Park, head over to Capital Hill and another Olmsted creation at Volunteer Park, find another hidden ravine in North Seattle’s Ravenna Park.

The choices are endless, but one theme pervades them all. Seattle is green because its trees are its heritage. From shore to shore, from mountain view to mountain view, the glory is in the abundance, beauty, and life-sustaining essence of the trees that create the best part of living in Seattle. The Emerald City.