Gas Works Park
By Deanna Isaacs
GAS WORKS PARK
1.6 miles from campus
This small slice of land only minutes up the Burke-Gilman Trail from the UW boasts impressive views of downtown Seattle. Its name comes from the Seattle Gas Light Company’s old gasification plant that sits on the north shore of the 20-acre park. This plant created gas from coal and, later, crude oil. It is the last coal gasification plant in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
There’s grass covering much of the park, with paved paths toward the “Great Mound” and the sundial overlooking the hill, an ideal spot for kite flying. The park offers picnic areas and lots of space to meander, but is often packed with Seattleites and visitors soaking up the sun in the nice days of summer.
WASHINGTON PARK ARBORETUM
1.8 miles from campus
The Arboretum is a lovely place to go for a casual stroll. With graveled paths criss-crossing the 230-acre park, this place is easily accessible to anyone. The Union Bay wetlands are to the north, and the south is ruled by prim plant life from the Pacific Northwest.
If you’re looking for something a bit more exotic, bring your UW ID card for a $4 discounted student entry to the Japanese Garden. A stroll through these manicured walkways will take you to another land. Buy a bag of bread from the entrance and feed the fish and turtles that occupy the pond within. Additionally, there are kayak launches dotting the park’s shoreline for easy access.
2 miles from campus
Just down 15th Avenue Northeast to the north of campus is a wooded ravine and green space that runs between two main picnic spots. Ravenna Park has a combination of wide ADA-accessible paths and steeper, sometimes stepped, paths to the top laden with the roots of looming cedar trees, one of which follows the babbling creek at the bottom of the Ravenna ravine. In addition to the trails, ball fields and tennis courts round out Ravenna Park for extra activities off campus.
6 miles from campus
Sitting at the very northeast tip of Magnolia Bluff is Discovery Park, complete with a lighthouse and more than 11 miles of trails to explore. This heavily forested area with paths, some of which are paved streets and some merely dirt roads, has something for almost everyone. Hikers could spend the whole day walking this 534-acre park’s sea cliffs and beach-front views.
Within Discovery Park stands Fort Lawton, which has been there since the early 1900s. Evidence of the fort can be found across the park, such as the old barracks and the still-occupied housing area. It has a long history that spans through both world wars and countless incursions.
Take a tour of the Daybreak Star Cultural Center while you’re there, a local meeting point for Seattle-area tribes managed by the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation.
8 miles from campus
Seward has a little for everyone, and it’s pretty close to campus. With more than 300 acres of forest, including some old growth, and more than 2.4 miles of trails for hikers and bikers — along with an amphitheater and plant garden — this is a great place to relax in the summer. If you have time during Seafair, head this way for an amazing view of the air show and all the boats that drop anchors offshore.
SAINT EDWARD STATE PARK
11.4 miles from campus, Kirkland
This 316-acre park features an old Catholic seminary, 3,000 feet of Lake Washington shoreline, and is a favorite for Seattle mountain bikers. To get some mud and dirt slinging from your spokes, head toward Volunteer Trail and cross the road into the link to Big Finn Hill. This area is complete with jumps, log rides, and switchbacks. There are also plenty of trails that don’t allow for bikers, such as the North and South Ridge Trails, which comes out to about 6 miles total.
The forests here are nice and cool in the summer, but the grassy areas at the waterfront and up by the seminary can be packed solid, making parking difficult on summer days.
This park is managed by the state and requires a Discovery Pass or fee for parking on site.
DUTHIE HILL MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK
28.8 miles from campus, Issaquah
Built by cooperation between King County Parks and the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, the Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park is a haven for two-wheel, off-road enthusiasts. With more than 120 acres of dense forests surrounding a 2.5-mile clearing in the center, there are cross-country trails and technical trails for every skill level.
There’s a skill-building area for those less experienced, sporting log-ride trainers, and some of the trails go into black-diamond territory. There are also a few trails for those who aren’t on bikes, but for the most part, this is a mountain biker’s paradise all less than an hour from the heart of Seattle.
Gas Works Park