Best Places to Run in Seattle: Top Routes and Scenic Spots

Seattle, a picturesque city surrounded by mountains, water, and evergreen forests, offers an abundance of scenic running routes for both casual joggers and serious athletes alike.

Known for its beautiful parks, waterfront views, and diverse neighborhoods, the Emerald City provides a variety of terrain and landscapes for runners seeking a new challenge or simply wanting to enjoy the fresh outdoor air.

Some of the most popular running routes in Seattle include the Elliott Bay Trail, which takes runners along the scenic waterfront, and the Burke Gilman Trail, known for its lovely wooded sections.

Additionally, running enthusiasts can explore various parks in the city, such as Discovery Park, Lake Union, Green Lake, and Woodland Park, each offering its unique charm and breathtaking views of nature.

With countless trails and tracks to choose from, running in Seattle is a delightful experience for both locals and visitors all year round.

Top Seattle Running Routes

Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park is a popular running destination in Seattle. The park features a 2.8-mile loop around the lake, providing a picturesque and flat route for runners of all levels.

With paved and gravel paths, the scenic trail is perfect for both casual joggers and serious runners alike.

Elliott Bay Trail

The Elliott Bay Trail is a beautiful waterside route that stretches 7 miles from downtown Seattle to Smith Cove in the Magnolia neighborhood.

The mostly paved trail offers breathtaking views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. Runners can enjoy landmarks along the way, such as Pike Place Market viewpoint, the Seattle Waterfront, and Olympic Sculpture Park.

Seward Park

Nestled in South Seattle, Seward Park features a 2.4-mile loop trail that circles the park’s peninsula, offering picturesque views of Lake Washington.

The relatively flat trail is perfect for runners seeking a serene and scenic route. In addition to the loop trail, Seward Park also has several miles of inner forest trails that provide a more challenging running experience.

Olympic Sculpture Park

Located near the Elliott Bay Trail, Olympic Sculpture Park is a unique outdoor art exhibit and a great add-on to a Seattle run.

Runners can navigate through the park’s winding paths and enjoy the dynamic sculptures and a waterfront view. The park’s proximity to the Elliott Bay Trail makes it easy for runners to incorporate a visit into their existing route.

Lake Union Loop

The Lake Union Loop is a 6-mile route surrounding Lake Union in the heart of Seattle. The loop offers a mix of paved and gravel paths, providing a diverse running experience.

Runners can enjoy views of the city skyline, historic ships, and houseboats while traversing the trail. Additionally, the Lake Union Loop connects with the Burke Gilman Trail, offering runners the option to extend their route.

Trail Running in Seattle

Discovery Park

Discovery Park offers a great trail running experience in the heart of Seattle. Boasting 534 acres of land, it features diverse landscapes of forests, meadows, and beaches.

Runners can enjoy a mix of terrain as they take in the breathtaking views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. With several intersecting trails, varied distances can be covered by simply connecting different paths.

Washington Park Arboretum

The Washington Park Arboretum is an excellent place for trail running with its quiet, peaceful atmosphere and ample green space.

Covering 230 acres, it comprises various gardens, water features, and the Azalea Way – a popular running destination within the park itself.

Azalea Way

Azalea Way is a picturesque, 8-acre path within the arboretum that offers a serene environment for running. This area is especially charming in spring, when the azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom.

Encompassed by lush greenery, the well-maintained trail provides a tranquil escape for runners seeking natural beauty on their route.

Burke-Gilman Trail

The Burke-Gilman Trail is a popular, converted rail-trail along Lake Washington that spans more than 18 miles (28.9 km) from Shilshole Bay in Seattle to Bothell, where it intersects with the Sammamish River Trail.

The flat, paved route offers stunning lake views and passes through various parks and neighborhoods.

Highlights of the trail include:

  • Ballard Bridge: A picturesque landmark connecting the Ballard and Fremont neighborhoods.
  • Gas Works Park: A unique park showcasing preserved gasification structures and offering panoramic views of downtown Seattle.
  • Lake Washington: Burke-Gilman Trail hugs the shoreline of this stunning lake, providing ample opportunities for bird watching and nature encounters.

Despite being an urban trail, the Burke-Gilman Trail offers a refreshing running experience amidst Seattle’s breathtaking scenery, making it a must-visit for trail runners in the city.

Scenic Runs

Seattle has no shortage of picturesque running routes that allow you to enjoy breathtaking views of nature and the city’s skyline. In this section, we will explore four stunning locales for your next run.

Alki Beach Coastal Trail

Alki Beach, located in West Seattle, offers a scenic coastal path with stunning views of the city skyline, Olympic Mountains, and the Emerald City’s surrounding waterways.

The Alki Beach Coastal Trail runs alongside Alki Beach and provides a mostly flat, paved surface ideal for runners of all levels. Soaking in the fresh sea breeze while running along this popular trail is a truly invigorating experience.

Golden Gardens

Another popular running spot is Golden Gardens, situated in the Ballard neighborhood. This park boasts a network of trails that take you through lush forests, past a serene pond, and alongside the sandy shoreline with spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains.

The park also provides ample opportunities for beach runs, as well as some challenging hills for those looking to vary their routine.

Woodland Park

Woodland Park, located near Green Lake, is another fantastic option for scenic runs.

The park features extensive running trails that connect to Green Lake Park, giving runners the option to extend their route for a longer run. Wooded areas, open fields, and glimpses of Green Lake make this an appealing destination for runners seeking a diverse and tranquil route.

Capitol Hill

Exploring the Capitol Hill neighborhood by foot offers a different perspective on Seattle’s urban landscape. As you run through charming residential streets, make a stop at Volunteer Park, a popular destination for runners, which features loop trails, a water tower, and the beautiful Volunteer Park Conservatory.

Not far from Capitol Hill, you can also discover Lincoln Park and West Point Lighthouse, both worth a visit for their unique scenery and refreshing atmosphere.

These scenic runs provide a diverse range of settings, amenities, and landscapes for runners seeking new and exciting routes in Seattle, while also showcasing some of the city’s most beloved natural treasures.

Urban Running Experiences

Downtown Seattle

Downtown Seattle offers a few excellent running routes to explore the city’s unique atmosphere.

One popular option is the Elliott Bay Trail, a waterfront path providing picturesque views of the bay and the city skyline.

The trail’s proximity to downtown makes it an ideal choice for urban joggers seeking both convenience and scenery.

Pike Place Market

A visit to Seattle would be incomplete without a run through the iconic Pike Place Market.

While running through the bustling market may not be the most relaxing experience, it does provide a unique opportunity to navigate the vibrant city landscape. To avoid heavy foot traffic, consider running in the early morning or late evening when the market is less crowded.

Waterfront

The Seattle waterfront is a popular destination for runners due to its extensive network of trails and stunning views of both the city and the surrounding waters.

In addition to the aforementioned Elliott Bay Trail, other notable waterfront routes include the Myrtle Edwards Park, which takes runners on a peaceful journey through a lush park with expansive views of the Puget Sound.

Space Needle

The iconic Seattle Space Needle is another must-see landmark for running enthusiasts.

Incorporate a visit to the site by taking a run through the Lake Union Loop, a nearly 6-mile route that starts near the Space Needle and encircles Lake Union.

This scenic route will take you across several bridges, offering impressive views of the city’s skyline and its famous landmark.

Special Events and Races

Seattle offers a variety of running events throughout the year, catering to different skill levels and preferences.

This section will highlight the Seattle Marathon, 5k runs, and downtown races that provide scenic routes and memorable experiences.

Seattle Marathon

The Seattle Marathon is an annual event that attracts runners from all over the world. The marathon course takes participants through beautiful urban landscapes, passing iconic landmarks such as Lake Washington and the Space Needle.

The event offers a full marathon and a half-marathon option, providing opportunities for experienced and novice runners alike. The Seattle Marathon is a challenging event with some hilly sections, particularly around Rainier Avenue, but this only adds to the satisfaction of completing the race.

5k Runs

Seattle hosts a variety of 5k runs throughout the year, catering to those looking for shorter distances and a supportive atmosphere.

Popular 5k runs in Seattle include the Color Run at Seattle Center and various charity races. Some of the best locations to participate in or organize your own 5k run include:

  • Green Lake Park
  • Seward Park
  • Washington Park Arboretum
  • Lake Union Loop

These scenic locations offer flat and picturesque routes, perfect for beginners and experienced runners seeking a less strenuous race.

Downtown Races

Downtown Seattle offers remarkable running experiences in its bustling neighborhoods. Runners can enjoy the beautiful Elliott Bay Trail, which runs along the waterfront and offers stunning views of the Puget Sound and skyline. The trail is easily accessible from downtown and provides a serene environment for a refreshing run.

Another popular downtown race is the Ballard Bridge Loop, which follows a picturesque path along the Ballard Bridge and through the energetic neighborhood of Ballard.

This course provides a mix of urban scenery and waterfront views, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a unique and enjoyable race experience.

Whether participating in an organized race or venturing out for a leisurely run, Seattle offers a multitude of fantastic and diverse running locations for every preference and ability level.

Running in Different Weather Conditions

Seattle offers a variety of running routes to enjoy, regardless of the weather conditions. In this section, we will explore some of the best options for Summer Runs, Rainy Days, and Winter Routes.

Summer Runs

During the warm summer months, Seattle offers a number of picturesque routes to explore. A great option is the Lake Union Loop, which offers a pleasant waterside path and plenty of opportunities to admire the city skyline.

Another scenic option is the Washington Park Arboretum, where runners can find shade and appreciate the lush greenery and diverse plant collections. Summer runs in Seattle are a fantastic way to enjoy the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

  • Lake Union Loop
  • Washington Park Arboretum

Rainy Days

Seattle is known for its frequent rainfall, but that doesn’t mean runners have to stay indoors. One popular choice for wet days is the Elliott Bay Trail, a mostly paved route that stretches along the waterfront, offering inspiring views of the Puget Sound.

Alternatively, the Burke Gilman Trail provides a well-maintained, 27-mile pedestrian and bicycling trail that runs through important parts of Northern Seattle.

  • Elliott Bay Trail
  • Burke Gilman Trail

Winter Routes

Though Seattle’s winters can be chilly and wet, runners can still find enjoyable routes to explore during this season.

Green Lake Park offers a 2.8-mile loop around a sparkling lake, perfect for a chilly but invigorating winter run. Another option is the Seward Park peninsula, which features a 2.4-mile loop along the shore of Lake Washington and provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

  • Green Lake Park
  • Seward Park

With these options in mind, runners in Seattle have no shortage of attractive routes to choose from, no matter the weather.

By taking advantage of the diverse natural beauty and well-maintained trails, Seattle’s runners can experience the best of outdoor exercise throughout the year.

Dog-Friendly Running Routes

Myrtle Edwards Park

Myrtle Edwards Park is a popular spot for Seattleites to enjoy outdoor activities with their furry friends.

The park features a 1.25-mile paved path that runs along the waterfront, providing beautiful views of Elliott Bay. Dogs are welcome in the park, but they must be on-leash at all times.

The wide pathways provide plenty of room for runners and their dogs to navigate the park together. Additionally, there are grassy areas and benches along the path for resting and enjoying the scenic surroundings.

Magnolia Neighborhood

The Magnolia neighborhood offers a variety of dog-friendly running routes. One such route is through Discovery Park, which features miles of trails suitable for running, with stunning views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

Runners with dogs can enjoy the park’s trails, although they must keep their pets on-leash. Close to Discovery Park is the Magnolia Boulevard, a picturesque street lined with trees and lovely homes, ideal for a pleasant run with a canine companion.

West Seattle Trails

West Seattle boasts several dog-friendly trails where runners can enjoy their workouts with their four-legged friends. Alki Beach is a popular destination for running and offers a 2.5-mile paved path with beautiful views of the Seattle skyline and Elliott Bay. Dogs are allowed on the path, but must be on leash.

Lincoln Park, located in the Fauntleroy neighborhood of West Seattle, provides wooded trails and a waterfront path, making it a great option for those looking for varied terrain.

Dogs are welcome in Lincoln Park and must be on-leash while on the trails.

These dog-friendly running routes in Myrtle Edwards Park, Magnolia Neighborhood, and West Seattle Trails allow Seattle residents and their furry friends to enjoy the beautiful outdoors together while maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.

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