It was cold, it was raining, and as far as I could tell, there wasn't going to be a break in the weather no matter which way we headed. Feeling weary of packing up my rain gear and hiking in blustery weather, I texted my hiking buddy Grace. She suggested a "Tour de Seattle" from Kerry Park in Queen Anne to Olympic Sculpture Park and beyond. Sounded great to me!
Here's a look at the urban hike we did through downtown Seattle, with stops at Myrtle Edwards Park, Olympic Sculpture Park, Pike Place Market, The London Plane, Intrigue Chocolate, and Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. At the end of the post, I'll share some tips for doing an urban hike in the rain :)
Distance: 7.6 miles round-trip
Elevation gain: 675 feet
Parking: Free street parking available at Kerry Park
1. Kerry Park. Our jumping off point was the iconic view of the Space Needle from Kerry Park in Queen Anne. After parking nearby and enjoying the view, we descended the stairway on the west side of the park to 3rd Avenue.
2. Thomas Street Pedestrian & Bicycle Overpass. We continued south on 3rd Avenue, right into a beautiful piece of art by Roger Fernandes called "Snoqual/Moon the Transformer." The artwork is a gateway to the Thomas Street pedestrian & bicycle overpass, opened in December 2012 so pedestrians and cyclists in lower Queen Anne could safely cross the BNSF railroad tracks and access the Seattle waterfront.
3. Myrtle Edwards Park. After crossing the overpass, we paused to enjoy the view of Elliott Bay, the Elliott Bay Trail, and ferries zipping to and from Bainbridge Island. We descended to Myrtle Edwards Park and picked up the Elliott Bay Trail, heading southeast.
4. Olympic Sculpture Park. Once we were on the Elliott Bay Trail, we enjoyed the waterfront views and admired sculptures at the Olympic Sculpture Park. A couple of my favorites were the iconic red "Eagle" and "Echo."
5. Pike Place Market. At Pier 70, the Elliott Bay Trail ends, but we stayed straight onto Alaskan Way. Right before we hit the Seattle Aquarium at Pier 59, we turned left to cross Alaskan Way towards Pike Street Station, then climbed stairs to enjoy a walk through Pike Place Market. It was about 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday when we got there, so most of the shopping and souvenir stalls hadn't opened yet. But it was actually nice walking the market without the usual crowds. We enjoyed passing through Beecher's Cheese (where I found out they're no longer selling their chocolate goat cheese truffles—my favorite treat from Pike Place :( At Caffe Lieto a.k.a Biscuit Bitch, I had hoped to get a cortado, since my memory of their espresso drinks was right on, but they were pretty packed with no open spots to sit. We moved on.
6. Smith Tower. Staying on 1st Avenue, we walked southeast for a mile towards Occidental Park, passing the iconic Hammering Man outside of the Seattle Art Museum. At Pioneer Square, we turned left (east) onto Yesler and enjoyed a skyscraper-like view of Smith Tower. Then we made a quick right onto Occidental Avenue.
7. The London Plane. Grace recommended The London Plane, which had fantastic (Fantastic!) crusty sourdough bread and yummy brunch options. We ordered earl grey tea and egg dishes, sat back, and enjoyed the morning light streaming in from ceiling-high windows. It was the best of both worlds: airy and pleasantly busy.
8. Intrigue Chocolate. Just around the corner from The London Plane is Intrigue Chocolate, where chef Aaron Barthel crafts square-shaped truffles dusted in cocoa powder with...what else?...intriguing flavors. I picked out Turkish Bay Leaf, Tumeric, Cacao Nib, and London Fog to taste with Onur when I got home. Our favorite? Hands down, Turkish Bay Leaf: just a gentle hint of the earthy bay leaf with the dark, smooth, every-so-slightly sweet truffle.
9. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park - Seattle Unit. As we exited Intrigue Chocolate, Grace spotted a sign for a national park bookstore across the street. It wasn't until we entered the store, and wandered through its neighboring museum that we realized we had entered a national park! Okay, technically it's a national historical park, a preserved site that tells the story of a significant event in American history.
In the case of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, the story is the gold rush to northwestern Canada in the late 1890s, and how Seattle flourished as a major hub for stampeders looking to strike it rich. It's a true national park, managed by the National Park Service, with a ranger at the front desk ready to answer your questions. It's free, too! For more information about visiting, click here. I especially enjoyed looking at maps and descriptions of the different routes prospectors took to Dawson City, Canada, and reading about how journalist Erastus Brainerd "marketed" Seattle as the best city to gear-up before heading northwest to Canada.
1. Hand warmers were worth it. It was cold, windy, and 45 degrees outside, and they perked up my damp, chilled fingers after taking pictures.
2. Wearing a waterproof jacket, pants, boots, and a hat meant that we could walk several miles, for several hours, and be totally comfy. Basically, it bought us more time outside. Worth it! :)
3. There are free public restrooms at Pike Place Market.
5. To carry our stuff, we used drawstring backpacks. I threw in a half-filled water bottle to stay hydrated, and also packed a small plastic bag to tuck my wallet into to protect it. That was really all we needed.
6. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is free. Free! Go check out this neat look into Seattle's history. Pick up a junior ranger booklet from the front desk to actively learn about the exhibits as you go.