Stair walking is a good way to get in a fun, outdoor workout. And there are stairs everywhere in the city.
I’M NOT THAT excited to walk alone. It’s fine, as far as exercise goes, but I far prefer the company of others. My friends and I even have a name for it — walk ’n’ talks.
But then I went to Queen Anne for a stair walk. I ended up going solo, and decided it was the perfect time to call friends in different time zones and catch up.
But as I huffed my way up and down the stairs, panting into my headset, I realized stair walks are more challenging than they first appear.
Seattle Stair Walks
Stair walks are popular in hilly Seattle, and there are many resources dedicated to documenting them. I found a website with routes in every neighborhood. I decided to spend some time exploring Queen Anne, one of the city’s oldest — and hilliest — neighborhoods.
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I chose a stair walk on the western side of the hill. Midway through, I was delighted by my choice, which offered panoramic views of Puget Sound and downtown at various points.
The real challenge was keeping track of where I was going. I picked a 4-mile route and used an online map. The walk zigged and zagged up and down streets, with no obvious rhyme or reason other than making me climb more stairs.
I started my walk at a fairly brisk pace but soon slowed it down when I realized my route was quite steep. I was happy to have some flatter portions and downhills to catch my breath and talk like a normal person.
Some parts of my walk took me to obvious stairs, like the ones next to Kerry Park, with its sweeping view of downtown Seattle. Another section took me to the Wilcox Wall — a beautiful piece of architecture.
I also happened to walk on one of the first bluebird days of spring. Flowers were blooming, there was a cool breeze and I had epic views of Puget Sound and Magnolia along the way. It was a pretty nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
I ended up cutting my walk to about 3 miles — not by choice, but because I was confused about where to go next. The good thing about Queen Anne is that there is almost always another set of stairs nearby, and I routed myself back to another section of the walk.
Stair walks also take you down dead ends you wouldn’t see while driving, and drop you into charming little cul de sacs and past beautiful houses, particularly on Queen Anne. I loved exploring the neighborhood and saw many other folks out for walks, though I noted that most of them were not taking all the stairs like me.
After about 45 minutes, I was tired and happy that I had not ended up on the full 4-mile route. I checked my phone, which was tracking my progress. It said I had walked 6,000 steps and climbed 43 floors.
I’ll take it.
It was the perfect active rest day for me. I love to do something — even on days off from intense activity — and a stair walk is my new favorite way to go. Whether you are someone who walks frequently and is looking to increase the intensity, or if you need to dial your activity down to active rest, a stair walk is a wonderful way to explore a neighborhood and challenge yourself.
Go for the most stairs, or take a few. My walk ’n’ talks will never be the same.