Motors Allowed?
Moderate / Class B
7.50 mi (12.07 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.

The busy little Portage Bay located in Seattle’s Ship Canal is home to several boating clubs (Agua Verde, Seattle Yacht Club, and the Queen City Yacht Club), the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and a quiet neighborhood of houseboats. Before the construction of the Ship Canal, transporting logs from Union Bay to Lake Union required a portage over the Montlake Isthmus, and Portage Bay earned its name by being the bay into which the logs were deposited.

There is a small beach on the northwest corner of West Montlake Park that has a small beach that provides the gentlest non-dock based launch point for Portage Bay. While there are usually a fair amount of small boats on the water, most of them are from one of the several previously mentioned boating clubs and are pretty harmless when given a wide berth. However, do be mindful of the vessels traveling through the ship canal, as many of them can be quite large. 

Portage Bay, Union Bay, the Washington Arboretum, and Lake Washington can be accessed via the Montlake Cut to the east, and Lake Union can be reached by following the Ship Canal to the west.

Navigate your adventures with the onX Backcountry GPS app.

Access 650K+ miles of trail data, offline maps, GPS tracking + waypoint functionality, Outdoor Project adventures, and more, using onX Backcountry.

Get the App

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Easy access. Good for beginners. Good for a short adventure.


Small and busy. Lots of ship canal traffic. Highway noise.


Picnic tables

Site characteristics: Water


Portage required




Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.