The Green River Trail near Southcenter mall is an urban oasis in suburban Seattle.
Location: Green River Trail, Bicentennial Park trailhead, Tukwila.
Length: Almost 20 miles; connects to Duwamish and Interurban trails.
Level of difficulty: Wide, level-to-gentle paved trail with adjacent soft dirt/gravel path.
Setting: The Tukwila portion of the Green River Trail in the Southcenter area hugs the curving western bank of the Green River, from north of Interstate 405 to south of South 180th Street.
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Despite being shoehorned between the river and the backs of small office parks and commercial warehouses (you can access this trail at the east side of the Costco parking lot), the trail is a pleasant green corridor. There’s a curious sense of privacy as you walk along the channel while cars whiz by and office workers focus on computer screens, too busy to see you. Huge cottonwood trees with their heart-shaped leaves — a sure sign of moisture — grow along the water, and rabbits nibble on grass at the trail’s edge.
Highlights: The trail follows the top of a levee that encases the Green River, long boxed in from its original channel. Signs of the recent flood were still evident last week: Blackberry bushes below the trail were smeared with mud, showing the extent of the floodwaters, and there was some riverbank slumping.
A marker along the trail recalls an early commercial venture. Flat-bottomed boats plied the shallow river from 1853-86, when boat navigation was a main source of transportation in the still thickly forested Puget Sound region.
Facilities: Restrooms (year-round), water (seasonal), and playground at Bicentennial Park.
Restrictions: Leash law and scoop laws in effect; path is shared with cyclists.
Directions: From Interstate 405 near Southcenter (heading either way), take Exit 1/West Valley Highway and turn right off the exit ramp onto Interurban Avenue South, which becomes West Valley Highway. Turn right on Strander Boulevard, and just after crossing the bridge over the river, turn right into Bicentennial Park.
Bus: Metro Routes 140 and 150 run near Bicentennial Park. 206-553-3000 or transit.metrokc.gov.
For more information: 206-433-7157 (Tukwila portion of trail) or www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/trails/regionaltrailssystem/greenriver.aspx.
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: email@example.com