Motors Allowed?
Easy / Class A
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The Washington Park Arboretum is nestled into the shoreline of Lake Washington, just south of the UW Husky Football Stadium. The Arboretum itself is a 230-acre site jointly managed by the University of Washington and the City of Seattle. The University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center provides the perfect opportunity for those that don’t own a canoe or rowboat to spend some time paddling; the general public can rent canoes and rowboats for $9 per hour on weekdays or $11 per hour on weekends. The hourly rental fee is worth it to gain paddling access to hundreds of acres of the Washington Park Arboretum that contains over 40,000 trees, shrubs and vines from all around the world. The Arboretum is also home to a population of beavers and numerous bird species.

The Washington Park Arboretum was established in 1934 through a joint agreement by the University of Washington (Board of Regents) and the City of Seattle (City Council and Mayor). For the six decades prior to the agreement, the Washington Park area was logging land for the Puget Mill Company. In 1920, the entire site was split into two parcels: one became the 230-acre Washington Park and the other became the 200-acre Broadmoor Golf Club.

You can also access the Arboretum from West Montlake Park via the Montlake Cut. This put-in location will afford additional opportunities to explore the water, houseboats, and marina of Portage Bay, but passage through the Montlake Cut should only be undertaken with a sea worthy kayak and not a canoe as waters can become extremely choppy with the passing of larger motor boats.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Wildlife. Easy access from Seattle. Easy paddling for all ages.


Roadway cuts through paddle route.

Water Temperature

32.00 °F (0.00 °C)


Picnic tables
Covered picnic areas

Typically multi-day


Shuttle required


Site characteristics: Water


Portage required




If you put in from the Arboretum you never have to go out into the open water of Lake Washington or the Montlake cut like you do from the other locations listed.
If you have your own kayak or canoe you can put in from the parking lot in the arboretum, just past the turn-off for the visitor's center. This is probably the best and easiest way to put in.
Just explored the Washington Park Arboretum for the first time, all with our brand new, collapsible, Trak Kayaks. Put in at West Montlake Park and paddled through the Montlake Cut. Would certainly only recommend going through the Cut with a sea worthy kayak (definitely not a canoe) as the water can get pretty choppy from the wake of passing motor boats.

Loved the wildlife... was certainly a crazy juxtaposition with all the people and freeway cutting overhead.
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