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Exploring Urban Hikes

Explore like never before, going from city sidewalks to wild rivers, wetlands and saltwater beaches, to urban parks and outdoor stair climbs.

Take a hike — an urban hike! In Seattle NorthCountry, there are all kinds of ways to explore the cities and towns in a new way while getting a good stretch of the legs or spin of the wheelchair! Discover parks and art, bridges and hidden staircases, and a new sense of adventure.

Centennial Trail

From north to south, we’ve got you covered! There is no greater thoroughfare connecting the county’s urban regions than the rails-to-trails Centennial Trail. Capitalizing on the unused railroad beds of the logging operations that transformed the forested PNW valleys into an urban environment, the 30-mile paved trail connects the City of Snohomish to Skagit County, enjoyed year-round by 400,000 hikers, bikers, runners, and equestrians.

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Explore some history at the Nakashima Barn in Arlington, and enjoy the public art sculptures and installations as you wind through the heart of downtown Arlington. At Lake Cassidy in Lake Stevens, the trail runs along the eastern shoreline and the lake’s Wetlands Park & Interpretive Trail. The Wetlands Park includes limited disabled parking (get a gate code from the county), and a 2.5 mile roundtrip ADA boardwalk —  a semi-wild waterway on the suburban fringe.

If you’d like to get your heart pumping with some elevation, you don’t have to go as far as a mountain hike. Discover a couple hill climbs, parks with trails that transverse from wild rivers to historic downtowns.

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Lake Stevens North Cove Park

Enjoy views of Mount Pilchuck, while you visit North Cove Park in Lake Stevens. Plan to barbecue on the park grills and spread a picnic blanket on the lawn. There is a a fully inclusive playground with synthetic surfacing, wheelchair accessibility, and sensory features so that kids of all abilities can enjoy the park. There is also a fishing pier, boardwalk, picnic shelters, and a swimming area. Nearby the Centennial trail connects to more urban/wildlife exploration.

City of Monroe, Al Borlin Park

The City of Monroe has walking trails figured out. You can enjoy a handcrafted beer at Good Brewing, or a tamale made before your eyes at Tres Marias, or a classic Northwest meal at Monroe Fish and Chips — all on Main Street. From the taproom it’s an 11 minute walk to cross the Skykomish River and discover Al Borlin Park Trail. The park is 90 acres and part of the peninsula between the Skykomish River and Woods Creek. Enjoy viewpoints of the wild and scenic Skykomish, a 1.2 mile network of trails, and connection to the pedestrian bridge to Lewis Street Park, where ”The Man in the High Castle” was filmed in 2014 for an Amazon Prime series.

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Stair climbs

The Zimmerman Hill stairway in Arlington includes 232 wooden steps, connecting Crown Ridge Boulevard to the Farmstead neighborhood. Marathon runners, moms and dads looking to increase their lung capacity and longevity achieve goals by increasing the number of times they trek up and down, and families with children enjoy the challenge and an afternoon walk on a hidden gem of stairs in the woods, connecting to city sidewalks. Locals tackle the Zimmerman Hill to participate in the Seattle region’s Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Big Climb.

Forest Park in Everett is a 197-acre oasis in the middle of urban North Everett. Gain 1,105 feet in elevation by walking the 4.9 miles of trails, including a stair climb. Come in the summer and the kids can enjoy the spray park and animal farm.

City of Everett, Boxcar Park and Grand Avenue Park

Milltown Trail in Everett is an urban loop with waterfront scenery, historical interpretive signs and public art, and plenty of opportunities to rest and enjoy a cold drink and a hearty meal. The full trail is a 6.8 mile loop. By this summer you may be spending more time on the Central Marina portion of it, where a new joint, South Fork Bakery, is opening, and in Boxcar park, where movies are shown evenings on the pop-up outdoor screen, and the historic Weyerhaeuser building is finding new life as a public space and Fisherman Jack’s restaurant.

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Marysville, Qwuloolt Estuary

This is a park you can visit by land or by water. Qwuloolt Estuary, in the Snohomish River floodplain is three miles upstream from Puget Sound. By water, launch at Ebey Waterfront Park and follow the marine trail around Spencer Island. By land, visit Harborview Park to access the 1.6 mile trail. The cooperation of public and tribal agencies led to the restoration of the estuary and the breaching of the Ebey Slough levee.

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Edmonds, Waterfront Trail

The City of Edmonds is blessed with walking trails in 47 parks and open space sites, and five miles of beach. Edmonds is a walker’s paradise, joining incredible mountain and water views with opportunities to enjoy fine restaurants and boutique shopping in an old-fashioned downtown. The Marine Walkway is a particular gift on any sunny day. It’s just north of a mile in length, dotted with sculptures, an off-leash dog park, and a fishing pier, ferry landing, and marine sanctuary and dive park.


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Ellen Hiatt
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