Olympic Sculpture Park to Smith Cove

by Julia Reitan

This is a great Seattle urban hike with lots to see along the way from incredible views of Elliot Bay the Olympic Mountains and Mt Rainier to the SAM Sculpture Park, Myrtle Edwards Park, Seattle Rose Garden, Port of Seattle grain export terminal, commercial vessels along Pier 90 and 91, and finally the Elliot Bay Marina at Smith Cove. You can get take-out food and beverages from Maggie Bluffs cafe, or bring your own. There are tables and benches to sit and eat or just sit and enjoy the view before the return trip. Round trip is about 6 miles.

Begin at the Seattle Art Museum Sculpture Park, corner of Broad and Western in Belltown.

The Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park is a worthy destination on its own. But for this walk it is just the jumping-off point. Zig-zag along the main gravel path that leads down to the walking and biking trails through Myrtle Edwards Park. Check out the small beach, then take the pedestrian path that hugs the edge of Elliot Bay.

MYRTLE EDWARDS PARK AND BEYOND

The walking path through Myrtle Edwards Park is a Seattle treasure with incredible views of Elliot Bay, the Olympic Mountains and Mt Rainier, assuming the mountains are “out.” The path is wide so social distancing is not too hard, and people-watching is abundant. Path continues past the Seattle Rose Garden and Port of Seattle grain export terminal. The fishing pier along the route was closed even before coronavirus, but a new destination has opened up not far beyond: a landscaped corner viewpoint courtesy of Expedia, which is also responsible for the adjacent construction site.

TWO-BRIDGE HOOP-DE-DO

At the end of the Expedia construction site at the big retaining wall with ivy and tire-track/rope motifs, you need to leave the walking/biking path and head in to city streets for a few blocks. This part of the route requires attention, because it involves several twists and turns, a stairway up and switchback ramp down, plus going over and under parts of two bridges, thus the “two-bridge hoop-de-do” moniker. The photos show this best. This is not the most scenic part of the route, kind of gritty, but it is definitely an interesting urban landscape and only for a few blocks. Sidewalks are much narrower for these blocks, but few people use them, so social distancing is still mostly possible.

MAGNOLIA BRIDGE TO SMITH COVE

Don’t go all the way up the Magnolia Bridge. Head down when the bridge continues steeply up. At the bottom, turn left toward the water. The Elliot Bay Marina is well signed and landscaped. Take the fork in the path that heads down to the water (not up to the parking lot) to reach Maggie Bluffs cafe, seating, and great views. To reach this point is about 3 miles. The trip back is the same route in reverse but is just as interesting because you have a great view in the other direction.