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Arboretum Waterfront Trail

Washington Park Arboretum

Seattle + Tacoma Metro Area, Washington

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Arboretum Waterfront Trail

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  • Arboretum Waterfront Trail.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Fragrant water lily (Nymphaea odorata), or "beaver root".- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Arboretum Waterfront Trail.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Arboretum Waterfront Trail with the University of Washington's Huskey Stadium in the background.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Arboretum Waterfront Trail.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Arboretum Waterfront Trail fishing platform with Washington Highway 520 in the background.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Female mallard (Anas platyrhynchos).- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Female mallard (Anas platyrhynchos).- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Arboretum Waterfront Trail and fishing platform.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Fragrant water lily (Nymphaea odorata), or "beaver root".- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Douglas's spiraea (Spiraea douglasii) and Huskey Stadium.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Canada Geese (Branta canadensis).- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Canada Geese (Branta canadensis).- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Arboretum Waterfront Trail.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Washington Park Arboretum along the Foster Island Trail.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Washington Park Arboretum along the Foster Island Trail.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Washington Park Arboretum along the Foster Island Trail.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Washington Park Arboretum and Foster Island.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos).- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Female mallard (Anas platyrhynchos).- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos).- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Washington Park Arboretum.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Washington Park under the highway on-ramps.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • Returning to East Montlake Park through the Montlake neighborhood.- Arboretum Waterfront Trail
  • - Arboretum Waterfront Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Bird watching. Fishing platforms. Close to the city.
Cons: 
Adjacent to freeway. Trail very muddy when wet.
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Region:
Seattle + Tacoma Metro Area, WA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
10.00 ft (3.05 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
1.90 mi (3.06 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
20.00 ft (6.10 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

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One of Seattle's most unique urban hikes, the Arboretum Waterfront Trail dashes through Washington Park Arboretum's north end, traverses over nearly a 0.25 miles of floating docks, ventures through Union Bay's Foster Island, travels under Washington's Highway 520. If you choose to hike the route as a loop, which is highly recommended, the trek also meanders through Seattle's primly kept Montlake neighborhood.

The highlight of this relatively short 1.9-mile hike is the exposure to Union Bay's southern inlets, islands, marsh, and wetlands, which are arguably best explored via kayak. The trail tucks in and out of willow-filled islands and gives way to viewing platforms where bird watchers will likely glimpse Canada geese, countless mallards, red-winged blackbirds, swallows, and great blue herons. In the marsh, keep your eyes peeled for American toads and perhaps even the endangered western painted turtle.

Densely populating the water's surface, you'll definitely notice the fragrant water lilies (Nymphaea odorata), often known as "beaver root" or "American white water lily." The ornamental aquatic plant that is ubiquitous throughout the Arboretum is actually a non-native and aggressive invasive species. The lily is native to the northeastern United States.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

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(97 within a 30 mile radius)

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