If you have never been on a bike in Seattle before or haven’t for a while, it’s time to jump aboard. Nothing creates happiness like bicycles and lucky for you, Seattle has lots of trails and bike rental options! Known as the Emerald City, Seattle is green in more ways than one. In order to keep it green, the city has a master plan to make bicycling a safe, easy option for its growing population of families and commuters.
Although the hills in Seattle can be a challenge in some areas, the trail system is well laid out taking advantage of flat land, river banks and no longer used railroads that have been converted to long stretches of relaxed and enjoyable trail systems. The trails tie areas together and save the natural environment in between. Unlike many large cities, Seattle has done a great job of preserving natural spaces, parks and waterfront, creating trails that are a liberating and beautiful way to see the city.
The best part about biking in Seattle is that you don’t even need your own bike. Just be sure to bring your own helmet, because it is required by law almost all over Washington State, and take advantage of Seattle’s bike share program. These programs provide bicycles to use cheaply and they are easily found all over the city and can be found all over the city, as they are outfitted with a tracking device. It’s as easy as turning on the app and a map will pop up showing you where the closest bikes are, find the one you desire, unlock it with the app, and off you go. The bicycles are owned by three different companies easily identifiable by their colors; Spin bikes ($2/hr) are bright orange, bright yellow are Ofo ($1/hr) or Lime bike ($2/hr $1/hr for students or University staff) which is bright green with yellow walled tires. All three can be left anywhere appropriate without blocking pedestrian paths. Often the companies will run promotions and the first ride is free!
The bike paths listed below are mostly focused in and around the Seattle metro area and its nearby neighboring cities. All of the listed bike paths are relatively flat and can easily be biked by the average rider. The absolute best map of city trails can be found right here zoom in and move around for more trails and locations. More Seattle area biking maps can be found here
- Start off strong with one of Seattle’s most popular and longest rides, the Burke-Gilman Trail covers 18.8 miles. This is a well-loved trail utilized by commuters and wanderers meandering through some of the best areas in the city. Starting in Golden Gardens Park in Ballard, it skirts Shilshole Bay along the water for a mile then brings you to the Locks where the trail separates to roads for a mile. Pick it up again in Fremont and then through the University district. Keep riding to Mathews Beach Park with 100 beautiful feet of shoreline and take a quick dip to cool off from the ride. Back on the bike to Lake Forest park in Kenmore and continue all the way to Bothell. Here if you want to make an adventure out of it, you can continue onto the:
- Sammish River Trail and head South East another 11 miles. Follow the Sammish river starting off in Bothell and travel all the way to Redmond. The trail connects with lots of other trails along the way.
- Cheshiahud Lake Union loop, is 6-miles and connects with the Burke Gilman for part of the way in Fremont. Make a day of it and take a leisurely ride around the Lake with multiple stops along the way. Linked with 35 parks including the very interesting and pretty Gasworks park. Another fun place to check out along the way is the funky Fremont area known for its interesting art, statues and breweries including the Peddler Brewing Company where you can tune up your bike while you drink, with a bike pump and a bike parts vending machine. Or just park your bike inside while you play board games, check out the beer garden or old school movie nights.
- SR 520 Trail-This beautiful bridge extension makes it possible to safely cross the 520 bridge by bicycle. It’s an incredible feeling to ride a bike over the afternoon parking lot enjoying glistening views of Lake Washington that you won’t appreciate from a car.
- Alki Trail7-mile beautiful beach front trail with views of the Seattle Skyline from the West side. It follows the beach around West Seattle and wanders through piers and parks along the way. Whale sightings here are common if you’re lucky!
- Duwamish River Trail to the Green River Trail together make up 30 miles of biking bliss running from South Seattle all the way to Kent. Connected in parts by some street riding. Both trails are connected and have occasional bridges. The Duwamish and Green Rivers are the same river, with the name change occurring when you get to Tukwila.
- Elliot Bay Trail, 3.4 miles long, another beautiful waterside trail starting off in Magnolia Park it runs through the South of Queen Anne and ends at the Olympic Sculpture Park where you can stroll through and enjoy the views of sculptures and the Olympic Mountains. After that check out the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). From here walk your bike for safety less than a mile to Pike Place Market and enjoy local chowder on the waterfront.
- Another great length trail is the Mountains to Sound I-90 trail, 10 miles of relatively flat trail, although the name implies otherwise. Also, a fabulous extension of the I-90 for you to fly over during rush hour enjoying the breeze that the stopped cars will not. Enjoy views of Mount Rainer and glistening Lake Washington along the way.
- Green Lake, you can’t officially call yourself a Seattle resident until you’ve been to Green Lake. Thousands of people come every day to enjoy this beautiful park. 2.8-miles around makes a good, quick work out loop. Keep an eye out for dogs, bikes, strollers and roller skaters while enjoying this well-traveled trail. It’s easy to see why it’s so beloved with pretty views of the lake front, multiple varieties of huge old trees, BBQ’s, a wading pool for toddlers when it’s warm, diving boards, floating rafts, rowing teams, sports fields, a playground and general excitement shared by so many people. If you’re lucky you’ll spot a log covered with turtles in the lily pad area and some of the first blackberries of the season are usually found here in this sunny spot.
The many, wonderful benefits of biking can’t be over stated. Biking is good for the environment, the wallet, the waist line, your entire well-being, and your happiness. It’s difficult to get upset while riding happily past traffic or trying to find a parking spot for your pedal pusher. No parking fees or waiting for free parking days to enjoy your life. A coffee and a bicycle are all stress relief you’ll ever need.