Seattle Running Routes
Seattle is one of the best cities for outdoor activities and has been voted the 2nd best city in the United States for runners.
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Seattle is known for its moderate weather and proximity to mountains and the sea. This makes Seattle running routes some of the best in the country. Located on an isthmus between Lake Washington and Puget Sound, the city is laid out over seven hills, miles of waterfront routes, and lush, green public spaces.
Running is a great way to explore the unique geography and get a great workout. Whether you want to train using the hills in town or a nice flat route along the water, there are options perfect for everyone. Are you looking to start running? Learn how to start running (and actually enjoy it).
Remember to dress for the weather because although the temperatures are moderate, you should always be prepared for a bit of mist or rain. These ten routes include a range of distances and difficulties, so pick one (or more) that fits your current fitness level and training plan.
Editor Notes: Seattle is one of my favorite cities. There is no shortage of outdoor activities and I can’t get enough of the smoked salmon at Pikes Place Market. I love the mountain bike trails throughout the greater Seattle area in the summer just as much as the seemingly endless running trails. Whenever I visit I try to stay near Green Lake. There is something about the neighborhood there that gives off cozy vibes. Plus, running around Green Lake is the best running route I’ve found to date in Seattle.
The city’s largest public park, Discovery Park is located in the Magnolia neighborhood and sits on the cliffs above Puget Sound. With over 11 miles of trails in the park, it’s a great place to escape the traffic and city noises and enjoy the natural Pacific Northwest environment.
The best trail in the park is the Discovery Park Loop Trail, about 2.8 miles, and was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1971. It’s one of the park’s most popular trails, but you’ll still find plenty of quiet stretches. Add on some elevation and additional distance by including the Lighthouse Loop for a total of 4.4 miles. The ancient lighthouse is situated on two miles of beach trails, so you can easily create your own route.
Near the University of Washington campus, you can get lost in the Washington Park Arboretum, spotting trees from all over the world. The park is home to more than 20,000 different kinds of plants, so you’ll spend your run enjoying flowering bushes and beautiful meadows.
The best running route in the park is the outer loop, which is about 2 miles long. You can follow this trail past the Lookout Gazebo, Rhododendron Glen, Japanese Maples, and J.A. Witt Witt Winter Garden. If you visit when fall colors are changing, add a visit to the Japanese Garden in the park.
Editor Notes: The Arboretum is a magical place and a must-see for anyone visiting Seattle. There is great cell service throughout making it a great spot to walk and talk while on a long conference call. If you have time, stop at the Japanese Garden for a zen-like escape. I visited in October 2022 and the fall colors were in full effect. After running the loop mentioned above I walked through the Japanese Maples. I highly recommend this for anyone visiting Seattle.
The best running route to enjoy the waterfront views and popular downtown tourist attractions is the Elliott Bay Route. This 12.22-mile out-and-back route follows the waterfront from CenturyLink field to the Magnolia neighborhood. It’s an out-and-back route, so you can choose the distance you want to run.
The center of the course is the best, with views of the famous Space Needle and Pike Place Market. Cut through the Olympic Sculpture Park to enjoy the incredible public art and the easiest access points to the trail for parking. This route is the best way to see the sights and get your exercise in, just be prepared to stop often for photos because the city is very photogenic.
Enjoy some of the best neighborhoods of Seattle with the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop. This 6.2-mile loop is popular for people training for a 10k race. It follows the heart-shaped urban lakeshore across two historic lift bridges. Stop for a photo break at Gas Works Park, which offers one of the best views of the Seattle skyline.
The path is named for a Duwamish chief, an important historical figure of the Lake Union area. Take in the views from over 35 parks, waterways, and public spaces along the route. Start and end in South Lake Union, which has many restaurants and the Amazon Headquarters. Tired from the run? Enjoy plenty of great resturants to refuel when you’re done.
Spanning over 25 miles through Seattle, the Burke Gilman Trail is a fantastic multi-use trail perfect for running. You’ll want to watch for bikes while running as the entire path is shared. There are many scenic sections to choose from. Follow the shores of Lake Washington or explore the University District. Pick and choose the section you want to explore based on where you’re staying.
For scenic views and a little bit of everything, the best section to explore is from Golden Gardens Park, right on the Puget Sound, passed the Ballard Locks to the Fremont neighborhood. You can check out the troll under the Fremont Bridge and stop in the Brooks Headquarters. This section covers 4.8 miles, and there are tons of great restaurants, coffee shops, and breweries in the Fremont and Ballard neighborhoods to enjoy afterward.
Editor Notes: I actually prefer biking the Burke Gilman more than running it. Nevertheless, if you are putting in miles for Marathon training, the Burke Gilman is the spot. You can run for miles and miles without running out of trail. I’ve only covered a small part but loved every time I’ve run it.
Get a blend of wildlife spotting, sunset views, and a fantastic run on the Alki Beach trail in West Seattle. This 4.4-mile flat road offers views of downtown across Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains across Puget Sound. You’ll spot many birds and possibly some sealife, like Harbor Seals, Gray Whales, Orcas, or River Otters. Plan your run to end around sunset and watch the sky light up as the sun sets behind the mountain range to the west.
Seward Park is a popular running spot on a peninsula that juts out into Lake Washington. The loop trail is 2.4 miles in total. Add some more challenging sections with the gravel and dirt paths interconnecting throughout the park. Enjoy the native flora and fauna while jogging and cool off after running at the swimming beach. It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors. On a clear day, you’ll get incredible views of Mount Rainier looming over Lake Washington.
Two long bridges cross Lake Washington and connect the city of Seattle to the eastside suburbs, famous for their large tech company headquarters and beautiful parks. On hot days, it’s nice to run across the bridges and enjoy the breeze from the lake. Get your miles in on the bridges alone, or you can pair them with each other for a long run.
There is a 19.69-mile route that crosses the two major bridges across Lake Washington and connects back to the starting point near the Arboretum. Run along the north side of the 520 floating bridge for about three miles. Signtsee the East side suburb of Bellevue and Mercer Island before crossing back on the Hadley Memorial Bridge.
Lake Washington Loop is a great marathon training route as you will be distracted by the gorgeous scenery, keeping your mind off the distance.
Another city park with fantastic trails is Lincoln Park in the West Seattle neighborhood. With a total of 4.6 miles of trails, you can create your own route through the tall old-growth trees on the inner paths. For a simple loop, follow the park’s perimeter, which is 1.97 miles. Combine Trail 1, the beachfront, Trail 2, the bluffs, and the connecter trail to create the perfect loop of the park. Suffer through the short uphill climb and enjoy the satisfaction of reaching the top.
Williams Point is the perfect place to stop along the run and take in the views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. After your run, take advantage of the Coleman Pool. Coleman Pool is a Olympic-sized outdoor saltwater pool and is heated to around 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Editor Notes: Coleman Pool is one of the best kept secrets. Seattleites use this pool often for training and it is defiantly worth a visit if you are a swimmer. My prefered training method is “Block” training and will often start with a swim at Coleman before going on a run at Lincoln Park.
Just 6 miles north of downtown, Green Lake is a perfect urban park popular for runners, bikers, and people looking to lounge outside. You’ll see people with picnics, lawn games, playing with dogs, and even using the lake to kayak and stand-up paddleboard. Green Lake has a swimming area, a community center, a small golf course, and even lawn bowling. You could spend an entire day here soaking in the outdoor activities.
For runners, there is an easy-to-follow paved path around the lake. The Green Lake loop trails are divided into wheels and feet, so you’ll enjoy a biker-free running path. This makes Green Lake the Best Running Trail in Seattle. Green Lake is about 2.8 miles around, plus you can add some distance and explore some of the adjacent Woodland Park.
Editor Notes: I’ve run this loop many times and is always my go-to when visiting Seattle. There is an awesome coffee shop called Retreat that serves up the best breakfast in the area. I highly recommend this run for all ability levels.
Super Jock ‘n Jill is the best running store in Seattle. Super Jock ‘n Jill has two locations; one in Green Lake and the other in Redmond. The store offers custom shoe fittings and carry the following brands:
The store has been serving the Seattle running community since 1975, and they have all the information you need whether you’re just starting out or training for your 15th marathon.
There’s no better way to explore the Emerald City than on foot. With mountain views and waterfront trails, it’s a perfect place to hit the pavement (or gravel). Enjoy everything the city offers on one of these Seattle running routes, grab a cup of Seattle’s finest coffee or a good craft beer, and plan your next outdoor adventure.