ON A HOT summer day in Seattle, a walk along the Montlake Cut offers good spots to hide from the blistering sun, including a perfectly placed bench where I am sitting to sketch.

The 95-year-old bascule bridge looming overhead cuts a dramatic shape, especially every time the span opens, and the nautical activity along the narrow canal is oh-so-entertaining!

From fancy yachts to classic wooden boats to powerful tugboats pushing barges, the variety of ships sailing through makes it hard to decide which one to include in my drawing. Two sleek vessels, Moon River and Big Dipper (are cosmic names for recreational boats a thing?), eventually come into sharper focus, and I pencil in their silhouettes before they vanish. The scene can’t be as iconic without a crew of University of Washington rowers passing under the historic bridge. In their absence, I add some brave paddleboarders skillfully negotiating the waves as the bigger ships cruise by.

The path along the south shoreline of the canal that makes this unique boat-watching experience possible is known as the Lake Washington Ship Canal Waterside Trail. It is quite short. Only about half-a-mile separates access points on East Montlake Park and West Montlake Park, but it absolutely lives up to its designation as a National Recreational Trail, a recognition given to trails that connect people with their local natural resources and add quality of life.