Circumambulating Seattle 5: Downtown to the Ballard Locks

July 4, 2014

“The simplicity of walking — the essential humanness of putting one foot in front of the other — made a deep kind of sense.”
— Nick Hunt, Walking the Woods and the Water

Ferry arriving at the downtown terminal, Seattle

Ferry arriving at the downtown terminal, Seattle

This segment of my Seattle periphery walk would make a perfect day hike for tourists because it bypasses some of the city’s most iconic spots.  I resumed my trek at the downtown ferry terminal.  Commuters were already making ready for their day’s work.

Then I detoured up two streets to the Pike Place Market, where fish, food, and flower vendors were just setting up their stalls.  I dropped by the historic first Starbucks store for a cup of coffee.

Seattle's Big Wheel

Seattle’s Big Wheel





I returned to the waterfront and headed north to my next destination, the outdoor Olympic Sculpture Park, which is open from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free.  The views and art are priceless.



The Elliott Bay trail, a multi-purpose biking and pedestrian path, follows the shores of Puget Sound toward the Magnolia neighborhood.  I stopped to look at the amazing Amgen Helix Bridge, a pedestrian bridge to the Amgen campus.



The trail continued past the Pier 89 grain elevators.  Looking back toward downtown, Mount Rainier shone brightly on the horizon.




Now the path took me through another industrial area. Decoupling trains clanked in the railroad yard.  Rather than cross into Magnolia on the Magnolia Bridge, I decided to continue up and around on the trail to Smith Cove.  I thought I would find a way to walk up from the marina there to the Magnolia bluff, but I discovered this was a dead end.  I had to backtrack and get on the Magnolia Bridge after all.

Elliott Bay trail toward Magnolia and Ballard

Elliott Bay trail toward Magnolia and Ballard

Smith Cove marina

Smith Cove marina

Walking on the Magnolia Bridge

Walking on the Magnolia Bridge

View from the bridge

View from the bridge

Once I reached the Magnolia neighborhood, I followed Magnolia Boulevard toward Discovery Park.  Although I was walking through a residential area, there were nice sidewalks and public areas on the bluff overlooking the Sound, and the homes were across the street.  This neighborhood did a great job accommodating walkers!




I finally reached Discovery Park and entered on 43rd Avenue West.  This Seattle park is still relatively untamed, with dense trees, ravines, and a shoreline, all cut with steep trails.  I followed the loop trail to the West Point lighthouse and then to the north parking lot.








Exiting the north parking lot, I made a short left on 40th Avenue West and then a right on West Commodore Way.  This street took me to the Ballard Locks, where I was able to cross the Ship Canal.  The fish ladders, which are ludicrously active during salmon spawning season, were empty of fish this time of year.  The locks were busy as usual, with boaters navigating from the salt waters of Puget Sound to the fresh waters of Lake Union and Lake Washington.

Boats waiting to enter the locks

Boats waiting to enter the locks





I ended my walk at the Ballard Locks and caught the Number 44 bus back home.

Estimated walking distance:  11-1/2 miles


4 Responses to “Circumambulating Seattle 5: Downtown to the Ballard Locks”

  1. I love your perspective as is shown in these amazing shots.

  2. shoreacres Says:

    Every place I turn in these posts, there’s something new to see. I was surprised by the locks, for one thing. I do love locks — there’s one set on the intracoastal waterway here in Texas, at the Brazos River, but they’re more floodgates than anything else.

    I do have some photos of locks on the Mississippi from my lst trip to the midwest, but i’ve never done any “locking through” like you show in your photos here.

    I confess — I would love to go to that Pike Place market. It intrigues me so much. For one thing, the flowers are gorgeous.

    That metallic “curl” is my favorite photo in this set.

  3. […] Circumambulating Seattle 5: Downtown to the Ballard Locks, July 4, 2014 […]

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