Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
4,200.00 ft (1,280.16 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
18.00 mi (28.97 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Seattle is a very neighborhood-oriented city, with each neighborhood having its own vibe and feel. Too often, visitors and residents alike can get pigeonholed into visiting only certain neighborhoods. But Seattle is way more than its well known tourist draw neighborhoods, and this stair loop is a great way to explore two of Seattle's distinct neighborhoods - Madrona and Leschi. Both are found on the slope between Lake Washington and the Seattle plateau, and both contain some of the more luxurious homes in the Seattle area.

Since both neighborhoods stretch along this long slope, there are a ton of unique stairways, paths, and parks that wind throughout the area. This loop connects all the stairs in both neighborhoods in a somewhat ridiculous adventure that will provide a solid workout (and makes for great mountaineering training) and a unique tour through the architecture of Madrona and Leschi Neighborhoods.

There's no need to do this entire loop in a single day, as it can be broken up into a variety of smaller sections, but doing the complete loop is a fun challenge for a winter or spring day when the weather's good but the mountains are still too snowy for easy travel. There are also many breweries, bars, restaurants, and shops scattered along your way if you want to improve this hike with some tasty treats!

 

Notes

Navigation - navigating this route can be tricky (and a bit absurd), and we highly recommend using the GPS track we've included, otherwise the loop will be impossible to follow - it's just too complicated. You can also access a Caltopo route here, with all the GPS points built in.

  • Bathrooms/Water/Amenities
    • Depending on COVID-19 closures, you may need to do some research on available bathrooms and restaurants. At the time of this writing, most things are open in Seattle, but this may change.
  • Optional Bike Shuttle
    • This loop can be done all on foot, but we find it to be more pleasant if you stash bikes at the south side of the loop (at Mount Baker Park and the "Y Dock"). This will allow you to finish the loop and then enjoy a flat 3 mile bike ride alongside Lake Washington back to your car.

The Trip

If you're stashing bikes, you'll drive first to Mount Baker Park and the "Y Dock." Once you've locked your bikes to the bike racks (or if you're not stashing bikes), you'll drive to roughly 1600 Lake Washington Boulevard. You'll find free parking along the street in this area, park your car somewhere and get yourself sorted out for the adventure!

In the small park just east of the road, you'll find your first stairway - a 38-stair leading from the lake up to the road. Climb up it, and then head north on Lake Washington Blvd before hitting a beautiful new stairway, connecting you up to 40th Avenue. From here, you'll begin the route proper with a northern divagation to hit four stairways and a small park, before immediately heading south again. This is what this route is - absurdly circuitous and uniquely adventurous. Get into the headspace to wander, and begin a series of east/west crenellations.

You'll pass by Madrona Creek, then climb west all the way to 30th Avenue, tagging 4 stairs before turning around and heading back to the Madrona Park Woods. Next you'll wind your way down to Lake Washington, where if you're hot you can jump in at the classic T-dock swimming hole area. Then you'll head back up through Leschi-Lake Dell Natural Area. The route continues like this, dipping and weaving around different streets, through parks, by neighborhood stores and unique houses, for miles and miles. Once you get to the I-90 bridge area, you'll get big views of the Cascade Range and Mount Rainier (if clear out). Enjoy some of the longest stairs on the route (200+ stairs). You'll get to Mount Baker Beach, but you're not done yet, you've got two more circumnambulations - one out to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, and another up and over the small hill just southeast of the park.

Finally, you'll stroll north through Mount Baker Park, ending the stair-loop at the Y Dock, where you dropped your bike hours before. Consider another dip into the lake to wash off that sweat before getting on your bike and riding up the lakeshore back to your car. There are lots of breweries and eateries along the final stretch to tempt you before you reach your starting point!

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Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Beautiful way to tour two Seattle neighborhoods. Fun way to get lots of vert within city limits. Good training method for mountain objectives.

Cons

Lots of hard pavement takes a toll on the feet.

Trailhead Elevation

30.00 ft (9.14 m)

Highest point

425.00 ft (129.54 m)

Features

Near lake or river

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

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