A Walk in the Park

Where: North Beach Trail at Seattle’s Discovery Park

Location: 3801 Discovery Park Blvd., Seattle

By the numbers: Discovery Park is the city’s largest park, with 534 acres and 11.8 miles of trails; three parking lots, with more than 100 spaces.

Facilities: A helpful Visitor Center that hosts many nature walks and programs. Playground, picnic tables and restrooms throughout the park.

Background: A section of the North Beach loop had been closed for two years after the pedestrian bridge and steps washed out. Due to budget constraints, Seattle Parks and Recreation Department couldn’t afford to build another bridge until about six months ago, with the help of volunteers. But this route has always been a priority. Seattle has 120 miles of park trails, but most run under a half-mile and aren’t loop trails. North Beach is a rarity in that it’s a 2-mile loop with scenic views, in one of the city’s showcase parks.

The hike: For a longer hike, start at the trailhead by the visitor center parking lot, which will add almost 3 miles to your round-trip hike to North Beach. For a shorter hike, park in the North parking lot, which is more than a half-mile from this rebuilt trail. Look for signs for the North Beach Trail on one of the many kiosks.

The trail is in open meadows leading to a dense maple forest and down to the beach. You might see swallows and chickadees along the way. Harbor seals and sea lions can be spotted on the beach.

Chukundi Salisbury, Seattle Parks and Recreation’s trails coordinator, thinks North Beach trail captures the highlights of Discovery Park. You get a sense of the park’s rustic infrastructure — bridge, stairs, boardwalks. You get views of ships and boats from the top of the trail and, at the bottom, a walk near the beach leading to the historic West Beach lighthouse.

Restrictions: No bikes on this trail. Dogs allowed but leash/scoop laws in effect. Visitor center open Tuesday-Sunday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed holidays.

Level of difficulty: Moderate with few inclines, partly dirt and gravel and partly paved. Not wheelchair accessible. The steps down to the beach are slippery when wet.

More information: 206-386-4236 or
www.seattle.gov/parks.

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle