Variety is always what the dogs and I are after in any adventure we embark on. So yesterday we set out on a dog friendly Seattle urban hike that began at the Washington Park Arboretum, through the trails of Interlaken and Louisa Boren Parks to Volunteer Park and back again. Our entire hike was less than six miles but we walked on every type of terrain and had incredible diversity in scenery.
Our fit dog journey began at the Washington Park Arboretum which is, despite my hometown bias, one of the loveliest arboretums I have ever visited. Plus our arboretum allows leashed dogs on all of the outdoor trails with the exception of the Japanese Garden. The landscape design is meticulously set to make hikers feel as if they are trekking through a natural habitat. Most of the trails are gravel, dirt and grass but there is a closed to the public road that can be safely traveled by arboretum visitors on two or four feet as well.
Once across 24th Avenue East (we crossed at the light at Boyer Avenue East) just on more block of our hike on Interlaken Boulevard was shared with cars before we entered Interlaken Park. I simply love this beautiful pacific Northwest forest preserve! It is easy to forget that this park is in the middle of a large, bustling city when wandering its lush green trails. Sadly, this Interlaken Park is notorious for illegally unleashed dogs so I rarely visit it. And even though we saw very little urban trash on our hike, we saw a disturbing amount of left behind dog poop. What a shame that all that bacteria was left to seep into the soil above a restored stream.
We turned off the main paved trail of Interlaken Park onto the dirt trail of Louisa Boren Park. This trail was surprisingly muddy and unkempt. Towards the top I felt like perhaps we had taken a wrong turn. Well, we sort of did. Apparently we hiked up a closed trail! There was no notice or blockage of the trails condition at the bottom where we started. There was, however, a very official "Trail Is Closed" sign at the top! That post was, of course, too late to save the dogs and I from the strenuous hike we had through deep mud, downed trees and narrow, overgrown with prickly bushes trail but as I laughed about it I was also very proud of us for making it up! So we rested and enjoyed the view. And what a view! The Louisa Boren Park lookout has a stunning view of Lake Washington. I was glad, despite the unkempt (er, closed) trail, that we had visited this park on our Capitol Hill urban hike.
At Louisa Boren Park lookout, we were just one block from the last park on our urban hike, Volunteer Park. We were treated to another assortment of scenery. This park is very manicured and was carefully designed for the heavy use of the dense Capitol Hill neighborhood surrounding it. Maybe it is because of the lawns, the reservoir, the stage, the conservatory and the art museum in Volunteer Park, but I consider it the Seattle equivalent of New York's Central Park. While Volunteer Park is much smaller than Manhattan's massive green space, Seattle's version has a similar mixed use and historic feel. The dogs and I circled the park, stopped for water and pictures and enjoyed the breeze and the scenery. I highly recommend visitors to Seattle (and even residents of the city) take some time to visit leashed dog friendly Volunteer Park without dogs (there are lots of doggy day care options in the Capitol Hill neighborhood) so you can tour the indoor parts of the park that dogs are not allowed: the Asian Art Museum, water tower and conservatory.
For Wilhelm, Brychwyn, Huxley and I, yesterdays Volunteer Park visit was all about enjoying a dog friendly urban hike in the unexpected Seattle sunshine. We left Volunteer Park and followed East Galer Street back to Interlaken Park. This trail back down into the ravine was definitely open and well kept yet it was still as if we had dove off of a city sidewalk into a mossy wonderland. The dogs loved sniffing the unfurling ferns, old growth trees blooming bleeding hearts and salmon berries bushes throughout Interlaken Park. I loved the smell of the fresh, forest air.