Discovery Park

Discovery Park

Elev. Gain: 
200 ft.
High: 
325 ft.
Where:
Seattle, WA
Distance: 
3.50 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: 
Easy
Rating: 
2
One of the best urban hikes in Seattle. That said, it's still in the city.
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Features

Overview

We're proud of our city parks here in Seattle, especially the 534-acre triangular slice of land set aside on Magnolia Bluff known as Discovery Park. Boasting spectacular views of nearby islands, Mount Rainier, and the Olympics out west, Discovery is a bustling piece of property with a full day's worth of exploration to be enjoyed.

Formerly the US Army's Fort Lawton, the park still shows plenty of scars from past and present military occupation, but we're just glad it's being protected as a natural site and we'll take it any way we can get it.

There's a number of different trails in the park, but the king of them all is the Loop Trail that runs more or less around the perimeter of the park for 2.8 miles. This well-worn path begins a short trip from any of the main parking lots and winds through recovering forest groves, open meadows, and sandy bluffs with scenic viewpoints along the way.

We highly recommend a short side trip to South Beach and the historic lighthouse, especially during low tide when the beach can fully be appreciated.

To match our route, begin at the Environmental Learning Center in the East Parking Lot and head south towards the bluffs. At about a mile, veer left onto the South Beach Trail and drop down a series of steps and view balconies until you arrive at South Beach. After checking out the beach, hop on the Hidden Valley Trail heading north until it hooks up with the Loop Trail. Follow the Loop back to the East Parking Lot.

Permits & Tips

Water and toilets available along the route. Maps available online or for purchase at the Environmental Learning Center. If you have young children or are a senior citizen, you can receive a special parking permit from the Learning Center that allows you to park right at South Beach (everyone else must arrive by foot). 

>>Google Directions

How to get there

From I-5, take the 45th Street Exit and head west.
45th becomes 46th Avenue North. Follow 46th until it becomes Market Street.
Continue on Market until you reach 15th Avenue NW.
Go left on 15th Avenue NW, following it over the Ballard Bridge.
Take the first right after the bridge onto Emerson Street.
Take a right onto West Gilman at the 4 way flashing light.
W. Gilman becomes Discovery Park Blvd.
Follow until you come to the East entrance of the Park. (about 1/2 mile)
The Visitor Center will be on the left.