Hike, Paddle, and Fish in Seattle - Backpacker

Hike, Paddle, and Fish in Seattle

Appreciate Seattle's fresh and saltwater beaches, plentiful forests, and the 27-mile urban path as much as locals after a long, wet winter.

Seattleites endure the moss that sprouts under their chins each drizzly winter because they know there's sunlight at the end of that dark tunnel. It's called summer--a brief-blooming perfection of soft Puget Sound breezes and twilights that linger until nearly 11 p.m. So forgive locals if they get a little manic about their nine fresh- and saltwater beaches, plentiful old-growth forests, and even an urban path (the 27-mile Burke-Gilman Trail) that leads parched cyclists past the Redhook Brewery's tasting room.


Rising from Puget Sound to a bluff high above the water, 534-acre Discovery Park boasts king-of-the-world views west to the Olympic Mountains and south to the skyline. Hikes on the 12 miles of woodsy trails are all about the timing: Start a 2.8-mile walk by following the Loop Trail toward the water at low tide and explore a tidal-pool bouillabaisse of crabs, mussels, and Crayola-vivid starfish. Return uphill via the Bluff Trail spur at sunset, when alpenglow turns 14,410-foot Mt. Rainier into a cone of raspberry gelato. (206) 386-4236


Green Lake is Seattle's Central Park, around which residents gather to jog, bike-and gaze curiously at Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club paddlers. Though the club's primary focus is flatwater canoe and kayak racing (it has birthed more than one Olympian), members get a key that enables them to sign out a variety of craft for a fast lunchtime of J-strokes. Glide out to the middle of the 3-mile-long drink, or roam its placid, willow-draped shores. www.scn.org/rec/sckc


For the first time in 8 years, officials last year reopened the gin-clear Cedar River, south of the skyscrapers, for catch-and-release trout fishing. (It was closed to protect depleted steelhead.) Toss a stonefly nymph for 20-inch cutthroats in the bucolic, 21-mile stretch to the Landsburg Dam through August. Or lash the water closer in-beside Boeing's mammoth airplane assembly plant. Load up on caddis patterns and advice at Patrick's Fly Shop (206-325-8988).