This new walking/biking trail, just opened in May and already the winner of several urban-planning awards, diagonally cuts through established neighborhoods from Beacon Hill...

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Location: South Seattle.

Length: 3 ½ miles each way.

Level of difficulty: Flat to moderately steep paved trail.

Setting: This new walking/biking trail, just opened in May and already the winner of several urban-planning awards, diagonally cuts through established neighborhoods from Beacon Hill to the Rainier Valley. The northern trailhead begins at Beacon Avenue South and South Dawson Street, and ends at 56th Avenue South and South Gazelle Street (about a block and a half from Kubota Garden, a lovely city park). In a few places, due to steep existing slopes, no new trail was built, so access is along city streets (follow trail signs to reconnect with the trail).

Highlights: This walkway was constructed with soil and concrete excavated from the light-rail project along Martin Luther King Jr. Way. This innovative approach saved taxpayer dollars and greatly reduced (by two years) the construction time frame. “Recycled” soil from the project was also used to create landscaping mounds covered with grass and ground covers along the path, and swales (shallow ditches for water run-off) provide good drainage. The trail is within the Seattle City Light transmission-line corridor, so to find it, just look for the electrical power lines overhead.

The trail will provide connections to the Mountains to Sound Greenway (via bike routes/lanes north of Beacon Avenue) and, eventually, an extension to downtown Seattle. When the Sound Transit LINK Light Rail is completed, the trail will be accessible from the stations on Martin Luther King Jr. Way at South Othello and South Henderson streets.

Facilities: None.

Restrictions: Keep in mind that both cyclists and walkers share the trail.

Directions: Since the trail extends more than three miles, it can be accessed by several exits off Interstate 5 — exits 158 (Martin Luther King Jr. Way South) and 163 (Columbia Way) are good access points, depending on which portion of the path you want to check out. Parking is on local streets.

Bus: Many Metro routes go near the trail. 206-553-3000 or http://transit.metrokc.gov

For more information: Call 206-684-3897 or see www.seattle.gov/transportation/chiefsealthtrail.htm

— Cathy McDonald, Special to The Seattle Times

Renton-based freelancer Cathy McDonald, a former geologist, has written about science and nature travel for 20 years. She’s currently a travel guidebook editor at Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door. Contact her: nwwriter@hotmail.com.