Seattle Stairway Walks: An Up-and-Down Guide to City Neighborhoods 

by Jake & Cathy Jaramillo

* The only guidebook to stairway walks in Seattle
* Explore Seattle neighborhoods in a new way with these interesting walks in Seattle
* Written for people of all ages who want to get outside, exercise, and explore
*Learn more --> 


Links & Media

* Seattle Channel's City Stream: Seattle Stairways (2016) 

* KPLU 88.1 "Tourist in Your Own Town" - Mount Baker Stairway Walk (2013)

* KING 5 Evening Magazine - Discover the Secret Stairways of Seattle (2013)

* KUOW News - The Hidden Legacy of Seattle Stairways (2013)

* AAA Journey - Last Stop: Stair Attraction (2012)

* Seattle Times - Guidebook Authors Show Ups and Downs. . . (2012)

Feet First - Seattle Walkability Advocates

* Sound Steps - Great Walking Groups for Over-50s!

* WalkOn inBellWa! - Walking Routes in Bellevue's Parks and Neighborhoods

Inventory of Seattle Stairs of 100 Steps or More website by Doug Beyerlein

* All Stairs Seattle Guide website by Susan Ott & Dave Ralph

* Year of Walking Seattle's Parks blog by Linnea Westerlind

*KOMO News - Year of Mapping Seattle's Stairs (2011)

*Seattle Times -  Queen Anne Stairways Map (2009)

* Washington Trails Association Magazine -  Urban Hiking (2007)

* Seattle Times - Seattle Stairways: Taking Time to Learn More About the City (2003)

* Seattle Weekly - Stairway Weekend (1999)

The Mountaineers as well as our publisher, Mountaineers Books

Entries in Burke-Gilman (4)



Arguably, the streets of Fremont are alive with more color, energy and visual interest than any other neighborhood. It's a mashup of blue-collar, artsy-bohemian, and high-tech hipster, a direct reflection of the 100-year-plus history of this neighborhood. If you do both routes detailed in the book, you'll come away with a broad view of this hugely varied neighborhood.

The main route starts along the ship canal, then climbs up to the northern border of Fremont at Fremont Peak Park, a very cool pocket park with a mythological theme and big views to the west. After that you work your way back down along the eastern side of the neighborhood. This walk is replete with those characteristic revelatory Seattle stairs - always showing you out-of-the-way nooks and crannies you'd never see otherwise!

The optional route adds a loop past the tourist attractions in the commercial zone, like the Lenin statue and the Bridge Troll, the famous "Waiting for the Interurban" staute and the beautifully renovated Fremont Library, with a new little companion park and curvaceous stairway on the side.

The "www" icon points out additional pictorial content, referenced in the book, that is included here in the form of a slideshow. You can view more pictures below that.

Top of the second flight, N 40th Street stairs

Fremont Peak Park, pictured in the slideshow above, is a recent grassroots creation and a real point of pride in the neighborhood. For the story of its local roots, take a look at this Seattle Times piece, Fremont Peak Park Story. For a fascinating description of the park's mythological and astronomical references, check out the website of the lead artist, Laura Haddad.

"Emergency Phone" whimsy, Greenwood Avenue N in Fremont

Walking down the second flight of Bowdoin Place stairs, toward Fremont Avenue N

Fremont bridge opens for a boat moving along the Ship Canal in early morning


Laurelhurst is the peninsula sticking out into Union Bay, roughly between the University of Washington and Lake Washington. Until well into the 20th century it was a rural outpost reached mostly by boat from Madison Park. That's hard to envision given the prosperous, well-manicured residential neighborhood it has become.

This route uncovers some very cool Seattle stairs. One stairway leads you down to a secluded and historically significant shoreline. Another one appears just around the bend of a driveway, only to dive irresistably down a leafy Laurel tunnel. The main route provides superb views across Lake Washington toward Kirkland and Bellevue as it explores the eastern side of the peninsula. An optional side trip takes you over to the western side, for views across the water to Husky Stadium and the Arboretum before turning around at magnificent Union Bay Natural Area.     

For more about Laurelhurst's fascinating history, try these links:; The Laurelhurst Blog; and Friends of Waterway 1. For info on Seattle's program for its 149 shoreline street-ends, click here

The "www" icons indicate where you'll find pictures and other content that are referenced in the book. Additional (unmarked) pictures show even more scenes you'll find along this route. 


Diving down into a Laurel tunnel at the "Hidden Stairs"


Starting up the NE 42nd Street stairs

As mentioned in the book - if you're still frisky after the main route, this side trip from your starting place out to Union Bay Natural Area adds 3.5 miles to your exploration of the Laurelhurst peninsula (no added stairways), with added views and shoreline access on the western side. Detailed directions are available via the QR Code at the end of the Laurelhurst chapter in the book, or here. The route is shown below:




Optional walk: looking back on the narrow lakeside access, between two driveways at the street
Shoreline view from "Waterway 1," Husky Stadium in background
Looking back toward the Belvoir Park entrance, from lakeside

Belvoir Park is located in the Belvoir Subdivision, developed by "Uncle Joe" Surber, who was also King County's first sheriff. As you walk along NE Surber Drive you'll glimpse Yesler Cove just beyond the trees. This is the eastern edge of the Union Bay Natural Area, which extends west as far as the UW campus.

The Center For Urban Horticulture (CUH) is the first thing you'll see as you approach the Union Bay Natural Area (it's pictured at the top of this posting). The CUH is a research station of the UW Botanic Gardens, and it's a beautiful architectural and garden space too. The garden area is colorful and full of texture, and everything is well-labeled. If you plan a picnic, there are benches and other places to sit, and there's plenty of grassy space around the Union Bay side of the complex. 

Don't stop at CUH, though - an extensive trail system weaves through the Union Bay Natural Area (see map above). There's a diversity of habitats in a very small space, and University teams have planted native vegetation to suit. Accompanying all this is a terrific concentration of more than 240 bird species, seen here at various times of the year. For additional background on Union Bay Natural Area history, trails and birds, visit Seattle Audubon's website  Birdweb - Union Bay Natural Area. For info on tours, trails etc. see the website Center for Urban Horticulture.
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