Seattle is an active city filled with bicyclists, walkers and others getting out and getting active. While many streets are equipped with bike lanes and sidewalks, Seattle also has a number of multi-use trails, designed for walkers, bikers and other non-motorized modes of transportation. The trails connect neighborhoods and city areas alike and serve a wide range of purposes—from commuting to work to great places for a family walk on the weekend. Most urban trails are flat and well-paved so you don't have to have any special gear to enjoy them.
Seattle's trail network also makes a pretty nifty way to commute, if your work place is along one of the trails. Skip the traffic insanity and cruise along a peaceful trail instead. Link Light Rail, which is not quite as nature-oriented as the trails, is also a fine way to skip the commute.
SDOT has some great walking and biking maps on their website, if you want to plan in advance where you’re going and how to get there. There are two major trail networks - SDOT Trails and King County Regional Trail System Trails - that make up most of the trails around town.
Alki Trail has three distinct sections: along Harbor Avenue SW where the trail is multiuse; along Alki Avenue SW from Harbor Avenue to 59th Avenue SW where the trail splits into separate sections for bikes and pedestrians; and continuing along Alki Avenue west of 59th where the trail ventures onto the streets. The path is attractive and filled with scenic views of the water. It starts at the West Seattle Bridge, takes you past Harbor Island, and around the tip of West Seattle so that you can enjoy some great skyline views of the city and Alki Beach. As far as urban trails go, it’s hard to find a prettier one than Alki Trail.
Burke-Gilman Trail is one of Seattle’s most popular and useful trails. The path starts at 11th Avenue NW in Ballard, and then goes along the Lake Washington Ship Canal, through the University District and then north along the Lake Washington border to Bothell. As it heads north, it becomes the Sammamish River Trail. Along the way, it passes through patches of peaceful nature as well as city landscapes. The trail goes past several parks, too, including Gas Works Park and Magnuson Park. The trail is popular with bicyclists and walkers alike along the entirety of its approximately 25 miles. It’s paved, flat and wide.
Cedar River Trail
Cedar River Trail is a 17.3-mile trail that passes through Renton, Maple Valley and Rock Creek. Views along this sometimes paved and sometimes soft-surface trail are quite nice and include Lake Washington, Maplewood Golf Course, several parks and downtown Renton.
Chief Sealth Trail
Chief Sealth Trail is located in Southeast Seattle, connects Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley and measures just around 4 miles one way. Unlike most other trails, Chief Sealth is not entirely flat—walkers and bikers should expect a few steeper hills along the way.
East Lake Sammamish Trail
The East Lake Sammamish Trail travels between Redmond, Sammamish and Issaquah. As of early 2014, the trail was largely soft-surface and gravel with paved sections, but eventually the entire trail will be paved. Views include the lake and Cascades and the trail connects with the Issaquah-Preston Trail. The length is 10.8 miles.
Green River Trail
The 19-mile-long Green River Trail connects Cecil Moses Park in south Seattle to North Green River Park in Kent. Living up to its name, the trail follows along the Green River through both natural and industrial landscapes. Eventually the trail will continue south to Auburn and Flaming Geyser State Park. The entire trail is paved.
Interurban Trail is not yet fully completed, but when it is, it will span between Everett to south of Seattle. The trail currently goes through Shoreline, Edmonds, Montlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Everett.
Interurban Trail South
This trail links together Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Algona and Pacific with 14.7 miles of paved trails on completed portions. The trail is popular with bikers and walkers alike, but also with commuters as it passes by Southcenter, downtown Kent and Renton, and other key areas and has ample parking all along the trail.
Marymoor Connector Trail
This short 1.9-mile trail serves to connect existing trails so that users can journey from the Puget Sound all the way to the mountains via the trail system.
Sammamish River Trail
The Sammamish River Trail follows the river between Bothell and Redmond. The 10.9-mile trail is popular with bicyclists and walkers, but also commuters to Seattle. The trail connects to the Burke-Gilman Trail in Bothell and passes through Woodinville, Redmond, Sammamish River Park, and Marymoor Park. The trail is paved.
Ship Canal Trail
The Ship Canal Trail follows along the Lake Washington Ship Canal on the south side of the canal, the opposite side as the Burke-Gilman Trail. It’s a nice alternative if you want to avoid the more heavily used Burke-Gilman, but scenery isn’t quite as pretty. Along the way, you’ll see plenty of Seattle’s industrial side and you can also use this path to get to the Ballard Locks. The trail is a short one at just below 2 miles long, but serves to connect the Burke-Gilman with the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop Trail.
Snoqualmie Valley Trail
Snoqualmie Valley Trail meanders through open farm country and stunning natural landscapes for 31.5 miles. The trail’s surface is gravel.
Soos Creek Trail
This 6-mile trail is paved with a slight incline at some parts. Some areas of the trail are soft-surface and suitable for horseback riding.