Thanksgiving Day can be a loooooong day... with all the food, relatives and general chaos of a packed house. When the eating is done, there is only so much television and time discussing politics with the elders that you can take. That’s why we suggest heading outside for a little urban hiking. It will also make you feel better about that metric ton of pie that you consumed.
Seward Park: This urban gem in southeast Seattle is nearly 300 acres of park perfection. It’s a little hook of a peninsula into Lake Washington, and one of the parks designed by the famous Olmsted brothers. It has a 2.4 mile paved perimeter loop that is perfect for all ages and abilities, and for wheels or feet. On clear days, you’ll get great views of Mount Rainier and the Highway 520 and I-90 bridges; on cloudy ones, the water always offers changing scenery. For a more woodsy view, head in to the interior of the park on one of the trails that criss-cross it. The interior features some amazing old growth forest trees that are all but extinct within a major city. Look for the resident eagles and take a breath in nature before heading back to the pavement.
Discovery Park: It’s Seattle’s biggest park but somehow still gets overlooked. Probably because its located in Magnolia and feels a bit out of the way - but that’s just fine with us. There are more than 11 miles of trails through the park, but it’s not the distances that make this place special. It’s the diversity of terrain. You can experience everything from beaches to bluffs, and forests to visitors centers. Views of Puget Sound and the Olympics? Check. Busy shoreline teeming with aquatic life? Check. Postcard-ready lighthouse? Check. All within a short drive or bus ride. First time at the park? Take the Discovery Park Loop Trail: 2.8 miles with a small elevation gain. Keep an eye out for some of the more than 270 species of birds like snowy owls, herons and eagles, that have been spotted in the park, according to the Audubon Society.
Magnuson Park: It’s not every city that can boast a former Naval base as a premier park. Where there were once airstrips and paved parking lots, there are now replanted wetlands and sports fields in this park located in the city’s northeast end. The old hangars are still there, some rejuvenated as sports clubs, some still under renovation. There are great walking trails throughout, including a fantastic shoreline ramble that goes by some fabulous public art (the Fin Project, in which the artist used upcycled submarine fins to mimic whale fins) and stellar views across Lake Washington. Our favorite trails are the ones that radiate from Kite Hill, heading through trees and brush, and will make you forget you are still in the city. Bring the doggos - the off leash area here lets the pups take a swim as well.
St. Edwards State Park: If you’re willing to drive to the Eastside, don’t miss St. Edwards in Kenmore for some fantastic trail time. It’s a favorite of mountain bikers for a reason, but there are many foot trails where you can even get in some good elevation changes. Starting from the top lot, you can head down to Lake Washington where the park enjoys 3,000 feet of shoreline. For a good climb, take the North trail down to the Beach trail then back along the South Ridge and Orchard trails. It will help work off the stuffing while you enjoy some forest solitude and beach vistas. Note: you’ll need a Discover Pass for this state park.