Seattle’s running trails explain for themselves why this is the emerald city. Whether it’s pavement, beach or trail, the area offers an array of beautiful running experiences unmatched anywhere else. Combine any of these areas with other parks and trails to create your own Seattle scenery.

Photo credit:

Golden Gardens
8498 Seaview Pl. Northwest
Seattle, WA 98117
(206) 684-4075

Price: free
Hours: daily – 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Golden Gardens sits on the shores of Puget Sound near the Shilshole Marina. Its 87.8 acres consist of beaches, trails and paved pathways perfect for the avid runner. At the north end of the park, the trail cuts through a wooded area and pond. Trails on the east side go up hill, and include stairways. The beach and paved pathways are on the south and west sides of the park. This great garden is close to the city, but it feels miles away. There is plenty of parking, though it fills up quickly on warm, sunny days.

Runner Becky Hoeldtke-Roehl enjoys a run around Green Lake on a sunny day. Photo by Karen Ulvestad.

Green Lake
7201 E. Greenlake Dr. North
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 684-4075

Price: free
Hours: daily – 24/7

Green Lake is in the heart of North Seattle along Aurora Avenue. The 2.8-mile trail goes completely around the lake. It features lanes for traffic at various speeds, and is busiest in the summer or on sunny days. The park’s landscape is gorgeous, with areas for picnics and plenty of off-street parking. It is home to bald eagles, many species of ducks and other water birds.

Related: Ready for a New Workout? Try These

Burke-Gillman Trail
Kenmore to Gasworks Park
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 684-7583

Price: free
Hours: daily – 24/7

The Burke-Gillman Trail stretches between Kenmore and the Gas Works Park with a paved woodland corridor along Lake Washington. It is surrounded by trees, views of Lake Washington and quiet neighborhoods. The final stretch near the University of Washington runs along tree-lined streets and small neighborhood businesses. The trail extends into Fremont, and out to Marymoor Park in Redmond via the Samammish River trail.

Golden Gardens has many running trails through the forest. Photo by Karen Ulvestad.

Discovery Park
3801 Discovery Park Blvd.
Seattle, WA 98199
(206) 386-4236

Price: free
Hours: daily – 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Discovery Park, a former military base, is located in the Magnolia area of Seattle. It features 534 acres filled with woodland trails, beaches, meadows, views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, and paved roads. Run on any of its 11.81 miles of trails and escape the stress of Seattle’s urban setting. The area is home to many species of birds and other wildlife.

Related: Guides to Runs Around Seattle

Washington Park Arboretum
2300 Arboretum Dr. East
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 543-8800

Price: free
Hours: daily – dawn to dusk

The Washington Park Arboretum sits on the shores of Lake Washington near the University of Washington’s main campus. It is a biological jewel in the city, filled with 238 acres of forests, gardens and wetlands. The park offers trails and boardwalks through the landscape with minimal traffic from automobiles and bikes. This park connects with the Lake Washington shore trail.

Karen Ulvestad is a mother and professional writer/photographer, who lives in the greater Seattle area. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in English Composition. Her background is in fitness, travel, photography and writing. She continually researches locations to visit, and/or entertainment opportunities for family outings and/or photo shoots. Her work can be found at