Motors Allowed?
Easy / Class A
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Originally called "dxWTLusH" by the local Duwamish tribe, the name "Lake Green" was quickly adopted by settlers after David Phillips, a U.S. Surveyor General, coined the name in 1855 in reaction to the lake's abundance of algae. Even before the lake was lowered 7 feet in 1911 to create Green Lake Park, the lake had virtually no inlets or outlets aside from Ravenna Creek, which slowly trickled into Lake Washington.

Formed by the mighty Vashon Glacier roughly 50,000 years ago (the same formation that sculpted the basin of Lake Washington and numerous other bodies of water in the Puget Sound area), Green Lake lies in the middle of north-central Seattle and is one of the city's most recognized recreation landmarks.

Luckily, motorized boats have not been permitted on the lake since 1968, making Green Lake one of the best bodies of water in Seattle for canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, and casual kayaking. You can rent all of these watercraft, in addition to rowboats and sailboats, at Green Lake Boat Rentals (206.527.0171), located on the northeast corner of the lake just north of the Green Lake Community Center. Also, since motorized boats are prohibited, there is no boat ramp, and all watercraft must be hand-carried into the lake. There is a large dock located at Green Lake Boat Rentals and at the Green Lake Small Craft Center on the lake's southern shore. Here, under the old grandstand of the old Aqua Theater, the Craft Center is the home and storage facility for Green Lake Crew and the Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club.

Note: Duck Island (originally Swan Island), a man-made landform, has been off limits to humans ever since it was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1956.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Close access to city.


Very crowded. No boat ramp.


Picnic tables

Site characteristics: Water


Portage required




Very fun to walk around (about 3 miles and super flat), although not strenuous and always has way way more people than I'd like.
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