It’s Sunny in the Southend and Time to Go “Free Wheeling”
Outside it is close to seventy degrees today and it makes me eager to get out and play. For free, or close to it, of course. My daughter, Mia, is now learning to ride her first two-wheeler, and neither of us is really excited about riding up and down the sidewalk in front of our house anymore. Fortunately for us, there are a number of places we can go for a more interesting ride.
Probably the most obvious Southend choice is Seward Park. It’s the place that has just about everything you could ask for on a short outing. The scenic loop around the park is just under 2.5 miles, has views of Lake Washington, downtown, and Mount Rainier, two bathroom stops, and a first class playground, and usually, a parking space.
The downside is that because it is such a wonderful spot, Seward Park can be pretty crowded, and challenging when you mix bikes, pedestrians, strollers, and dogs. Not a problem if your kids are comfortable with their bikes, not so great for new and young riders. For them, consider coming down early in the day on weekends, or midday during the week.
A great nearby option is Bicycle Sunday sponsored by Cascade Bicycle Club and the Seattle of Seattle Parks and Recreation. On scheduled Sundays throughout the summer months, the city closes off Lake Washington Blvd to motor vehicle traffic from Seward Park to Mount Baker Beach.
There is something quite satisfying about taking over the entire road with one’s bicycle without the fear of being hit by a car. The ride is short enough for all ages, and either end of the ride makes for a great picnic spot, not to mention the playgrounds when your little riders have had enough pedaling.
When you want to get away from the crowds, consider a ride along Beacon Avenue. Running along the backbone of Beacon Hill, this greenbelt trail runs from South Barton Street up to South Myrtle Street. My favorite aspect of this ride is the foliage. The seasonal changes along this route are some of the most dramatic in all Seattle. Van Asselt and Benefit Parks offer playground diversions as well as pit stops. Do bear in mind that the trail does follow the topography so there are some small hills that may challenge young riders.
Southeast Seattle has one more riding option, the Chief Sealth Trail. Running along City Light’s utility corridor, it currently extends from Beacon Avenue south of Columbia Way to 51st Avenue South. To be honest, I have never been on this trail. I am just not inspired when the major scenic attraction is the city’s power lines. Still, I have to applaud the city for finding a use for this green space. According to the city’s website, the portion of the trail currently open was built from landfill excavated from the light rail project, a win-win for the city and the developer. With the current budget woes, it may be awhile before this trail is completed.
Another ride where you can get away from the crowd is just beyond the borders of our Southend at Renton’s Cedar River Trail Park. Where more adventure awaits at the Cedar River Boathouse offering canoe and kayak rentals. The route travels by several parks, playgrounds and picnicking spots, though most families will be satisfied with the route west of North Logan Avenue which provides opportunities to view the airplanes at Renton Airport and the Boeing plant. At times of the year you can spot salmon in the river. This is probably the only trail that can include a stop at the library.
Perhaps the most overlooked ride is Tukwila’s Interurban Trail which runs south from Georgetown to the Kent border, and connects with trails running all the way to Algona/Pacific. Bordering the Duwamish/Green River, the trail will take you through parts of the cityscape you don’t generally see as the green belt sneaks and snakes along the river through several playgrounds and playfields, behind industrial parks, golf courses, and two freeways. The parks and picnic areas along the way also offer bathroom stops. For the time being, due to potential Green River flooding, the trail is closed south of the 405 freeway.
Now, it’s time to get rolling. And if you’re not up for a bike ride? Any of these trails makes for a fine stroll, spirited walk, or run. Summer is here, sort of. Get out and play!