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The Top 5 Running Routes Near Seattle

The Traveling Runner Series 



My husband and I travel a lot. Like, 68-flight-segments-last-year, a lot. Most is for work - him more than me - but being runners, we always find time to search out trails and running routes with the best views, footing, elevation, etc. Not going to lie: it is time consuming. I love running in new places but finding the best of the best is often a Sherlock Holmes-esk investigation that includes reaching out to my athletes, fellow runners, friends, the internet... I'm tired just thinking about it. 


After our last trip to Boulder, CO, I began wishing for a resource that listed out all the major US cities and the primo running routes within a short driving distance. A simple Google search resulted in less than optimal results. Hey, if you can't find it, create it, right? Welcome to The Traveling Runner Series! First on the list is our current home, Seattle. 


Best For a Shakeout 

Green Lake Trail or Washington Park Arboretum


Green Lake: This well-beaten 3 mile trail is flat and enjoyable. The perfect shake out after jumping off a plane.


Local Tip: Take advantage of Green Lake's  link to Woodland Park to snag extra miles with rolling hills and less congestion. Also, the track at Green Lake Park is perfect for strides or intervals. 


Distance: 3.1 miles, loop 

Terrain: Gravel/Dirt // Good Footing

Elevation gain: ~20 ft


The Arboretum: This little gem travels through beautiful flowers and foliage. As an added bonus, the trail passes the University of Washington and near waters where runners can catch the UW rowing team practice. 


Distance: 3.5 miles, loop route

Terrain: Gravel/Dirt/Pavement // Good Footing

Elevation gain: ~200 ft


Best For a Long Run 

Tiger Mountain State Forest


At 13,745-acres and adjacent to Cougar and Squak Mountain, Tiger provides access to more than enough trails to keep you adventuring for miles on end. Here is one of the local favorites: 


Poo Poo Point: Oh yes, perfect name for a long run, eh? This trail has a fair amount of traffic on weekends, but arrive later in the day and experience beautiful panoramic sunset views at the peak. Its also is home to a launch point for hang gliders and paragliders and beautiful views of the mountain on clear days! 


Local Tip: The main parking lot is small, so park at Issaquah High School. During early summer the owls can be territorial - watch your head! 


Distance: 8.2 miles from Issaquah High School parking lot; 6.8 miles from small Issaquah Alps trailhead, out and back 

Terrain: Dirt // Single track // Gradual incline, steep during last 1/3.

Elevation gain: 1945 ft 


Best For a Workout

 Burke-Gilman or Green Lake Trail 


Burke-Gilman Trail: a 18 mile staple in the city. It begins at Shilshole Bay in Seattle, travels along Lake Washington, and extends to the city of Bothell where it merges with the Sammamish River Trail (another 10+ miles). For some funky views, start at Glass Works Park or cool down in Fremont to hang with the troll! However be aware that disputes have resulted in a 1.4 mile "missing link" through the Ballard neighborhood. Construction to complete this segment is scheduled for sometime in 2018.



Local Tip: If your log reads "track workout", try Green Lake Park (see above)!


Distance: 18 miles

Terrain: Paved // Good footing

Elevation gain: 823 ft


Best For an Adventure 

Mount Si


Mount Si: This trail is not for the faint of heart. However, it is a fun, challenging and rewarding ascent with wildflowers and views for days. Beware of the false summit right before a segment known as the Haystack, a section of rocky terrain that is slick when wet. You'll experience snow in winter and temperature changes are expected, so pack accordingly! 


Distance: 7.6 miles

Terrain: Dirt // Single track // Rocking, particularly at Haystack

Elevation gain: 3087 ft


Best Views 

Discovery Park


Discovery Park: This park is located outside of the Magnolia neighborhood and provides open space away from the hustle of the city. Take the trail down to the ocean, climb the rocks out to the light house, or just run the dirt trail loop around this beautiful nature park. 


Distance: 4.4 mile loop, with add on options 

Terrain: Dirt // Double and single track // Good footing

Elevation gain: 472 ft, with add on options to/from the ocean



Well there it is, friends! My goal is to create an archive of the top 5 trails and running routes across the United States so that no one will ever have to wonder where to run while traveling again. Want to make a location request? Drop it in the comments and I'll add it to the list! 


Happy running - and traveling! 





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