WALKING GREEN LAKE A Seattle Favorite
by Darryl Brackett
would not be surprised to learn that their city ranks as the third Best
Walking City in the nation according to the American Podiatric Medical
Association. There are countless wonderful places to walk beaches,
parks, and urban trails that meander through wooded areas and neighborhoods.
One of the citys favorites is the path around Green Lake. Nestled
in north Seattle, this natural lake was scoured out by a glacier and
is surrounded by a 323.7 acre park with all of the requisite recreational
possibilities paddleboats, playgrounds, fishing, swimming and
wading pools, ball-fields and basketball courts, lawn bowling, and more.
hundreds of people come to Green Lake to do every day is walk. The 2.8
mile path around the lake is just long enough for a good workout. Thanks
to the circular nature of the path, there is usually no need to decide
when to turn back once you start, youre committed. Its
an ideal place to meet a friend for a walk and talk. For most, the approximate
hour it takes to complete that circle can easily be squeezed in between
been walking Green Lake for over 25 years and I never tire of it. I
love the seasonal changes and the fact that nature provides something
different on every visit. Youll always see ducks and coots and
cormorants, but you might also see a heron or a bald eagle. No doubt
birders who frequent the lake could give you an extensive list of the
birds youre likely to see. In the spring, the baby ducks are always
a welcome and amusing sight. On the west side is what I call Turtle
Log, where, on a sunny day, you might see a passel of turtles. Ive
seen up to seven at one time, including one persistent fellow who spent
15 minutes trying to clamber up the bobbing log.
to the efforts of the former Green Lake Park Alliance, many of the trees
around the lake are labeled. If youre serious about trees, you
might consult Arthur Lee Jacobsons The Trees of Green Lake.
Plenty of people have been serious about those trees, even holding a
memorial service for a stand of cottonwoods that were removed during
in Green Lake refers to the abundance of algae present, which can create
a less than pleasing aroma. Today, youll see a rather cumbersome
blue contraption out on the lake. Its an aquatic plant harvester,
used to rid the lake of weeds and milfoil. A group known as Friends
of Green Lake (www.friendsofgreenlake.org)
is also working actively on issues of water quality.
day, I may simply want to get my heart pumping and Ill keep up
a brisk pace around the lake. Another time I might stroll, inadvertently
eavesdropping and noting the many different languages I hear (not that
I can identify them all). Like most parks, Green Lake is a great place
On a beautiful
weekend, youll need to be in the mood for all those people, as
the path can become quite crowded. Walking on such a busy day, Ive
had the image that Im negotiating traffic, just as if Im
driving in Seattles now famous congestion merging, signaling,
and staying alert.
there are plenty of times when there are few people about and its
much easier to drift into a reverie. Ive sometimes experienced
what seems like a loss of time, suddenly realizing Im not sure
where I am and with no memory of how I reached this particular point
on the lake.
isnt just for walkers and joggers, of course. There are bicyclists,
scooter riders, and rollerbladers. The path has a history of conflict
between wheels and feet. There have been collisions on the path, and
in the past, some individuals have even called for a ban on wheels.
In 1997 the city completed a renovation, widening the path to 18
(13 paved and 5 of crushed gravel), designating two clear
lanes for foot and wheel traffic. Periodic signs clearly indicate which
is which and most people abide by this courtesy code.
Lake has its own traditions. On a sunny July day you might encounter
the Seafair Milkcarton Derby, where watercraft, creatively constructed
of plastic or paper milk cartons, prove their seaworthiness in races.
If you come down on the evening of the second Saturday in December,
youll find the lake has been transformed into a rather magical
sight for the Pathway of Lights when its surrounded by luminarias,
placed there by well-organized neighbors and volunteers. In the Community
Center youll hear holiday music as you walk around the lake. The
festival happens rain or shine.
Lake walkers are regulars, and one of the pleasures of this walk is
that you often encounter someone you know. Mornings, you will regularly
see young mothers with baby strollers. In the afternoons, you could
find a high school track team has just swept by during their daily training
run. Green Lake has plenty of parking lots on all sides of the lake,
and accessible street parking as well. Its also ringed by several
coffee shops, restaurants, and several retail stores that carry walking
and running gear. Youll also find one of Seattles Carnegie
branch libraries thats listed on the National Register of Historic
Places, and, to the south end, Woodland Park Zoo.
Thanks to Good Times at Green Lake, Recipes for Seattles Favorite
Park by Susan Banks and Carol Orr and the Seattle Public Library,
Green Lake Branch Neighborhood Archives for information used in this
Lawry is a freelance writer from Seattle WA.