Top Running Routes in Seattle

Words and photos by Seattle runner, Lynn Carlson.

Seattle is known for being an outdoor lover’s mecca and a foodie’s 5-star yelp review waiting to be posted. There are countless routes to run, places to dine, freshly roasted coffee to drink, and breweries to check out. Don’t let the array of choices intimidate you; as luck would have it, Seattle culture encourages these staples to intertwine and coexist together, making it the perfect place for a runcation.

Summer in Seattle is a runner’s dream filled with hours of daylight and possibility. The fall season gently coaxes us into the reality of the long months that will follow. Yes, winter here can be cruel. This is when the city lives up to its well-known stereotype – blankets of rain and grey-on-grey hues that will last throughout the spring.  

Although calloused clouds and abrasive winds try to defend their winter claim into April, you’ll still see an army of runners emerge day after day. This coalition contrasts the monotony of the skies, painting it with their splashes of blue, yellow, and pink windbreakers. Stride by stride they rebel against the forecast; spring training has started…Where are they going?

From the magical old growth forest trails pocketed throughout the city to paved paths showcasing views of the Olympic mountains along the waterfront… Below are popular destinations rain or shine for the weatherproof runner.

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Elliot Bay Trail – up to 8 miles as an out and back

This waterfront trail is located close to unique tourist attractions such as Pike Place Market and the sculpture garden, allowing you to get in your run and explore shortly after. On a clear day, you’ll have views of the Olympic Mountain Range and Mt. Rainer. No matter what the weather is like, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for seals! I just spotted 6 on a recent run.  

Use this 6-Mile route created with the FASTZach App to explore the Elliot Bay Trail.

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Green Lake Loop – 3 miles

This classic & very busy Seattle loop is a staple in the running community. It is the perfect length for a recovery run or multiple loops for a speed workout. If you’re feeling extra competitive, check if a 5K is overlapping with your visit. If so, you will most likely toe the line against a stacked field of Brooks Beasts and Oiselle elites!

Protip: The outer loop, although gravel vs. paved, is much quieter than the inner loop.

Use this 3-Mile route created with the FASTZach App to explore Green Lake.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetDiscovery Park – 2.8 miles on the Loop Trail or 5ish miles Loop Trail + South Beach

Discovery Park is located in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood and includes miles of singletrack techy trails as well as wide and smooth paths, making it the perfect option for trail runners of all abilities. Regardless of running long or short, relatively flat or with plenty of climbing, you will have incredible views of the sound, Cascade Mountains, and the Olympic Mountains when you reach the bluff overlook!

Protip: Check out Seven Hills Running Shop for a vast selection of trail-specific gear!!  

Use this 4.5-Mile route created with the FASTZach App to explore Discovery Park.

54cc8188-f29c-44ee-984f-fd2aa2bbe034.jpgLincoln Park – Up to 20 as an out and back

West Seattle is located slightly outside of the downtown area, but don’t let that stop you from getting in an awesome long run! This route boasts of nonstop waterfront views, minimal hills, and multiple water fountains! I recommend parking at Lincoln Park, which will allow you to run up to 20 miles as a straight out and back.  

Protip: Make sure to check out Marination Mai Kai before you leave! Just thinking of their Hawaiian-Korean breakfast burritos, Kimchi fried rice, & local beer has become one of my go-to long run mantras. “Beer and burritos, beer and burritos..” Enjoy!

Use this 18-Mile route created with the FASTZach App to explore Lincoln Park.

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