One of the best things about where we landed when we bought a home in West Seattle nearly 20 years ago is how close we are to Lincoln Park–a few minutes’ drive, or about 15 minutes on foot (all downhill). So when a friend asked recently for some tips for a stroll in the park, I was more than happy to comply. She’s among what seems to be many Seattle-area folks who may not have stepped foot in Lincoln Park for a while. Which I get. It’s not like I roam around the city for a walk in Seward, Discovery, Magnuson and Volunteer parks on a regular basis. Though I intend to change that!
She and her friends had a really delightful walk, and it inspired me to share here the itinerary I suggested for them, with a few highlights to check out along the way. I may pop up with more of my West Seattle walks over time, an unofficial walking-West-Seattle ambassador.
I recommend driving past the park’s main big parking lot you first come to heading south on Fauntleroy Way SW, and park if you can in the smaller lot at the south end of the park. From there you can wander right into the upper park area, but hold off. Head instead to the south edge of the lot where you see a message board and follow the paved drive down to the water. This allows you to take in the full length of the beach-side pathway.
This is a gorgeous, easy stroll on a paved pathway, unless you care to drop down onto shore for some beach-rock walking (if tide’s not too high). Glance backward now and then to take in the comings-and-goings of the Vashon-Southworth ferry. As you approach the point, where there’s a low building and the seasonal outdoor saltwater Colman Pool (opening again mid-May), stay to the left. A couple benches there are perfectly situated for a brief pause, taking in the beauty of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains (assuming the latter are visible when you’re there).
As you loop back from the point toward the main pathway, be sure to check out the Love Rock. I don’t know its origins, but since at least 2013 when I snapped the first of many photos I’ve taken it features the letters L O V E spelled out in some manner of mostly-beach-collected materials. One day the display included a green apple Jolly Rancher, among the more random elements I’ve seen. I check it out without fail as I stroll past, and more likely than not will snap yet another image to add to the collection.
Continue northward, skirting the edge of the cove which takes you to the north edge of the park. Here you have a couple options, but whichever you choose, be sure to check out the carved logs on the beach shortly before the end of the park part of the path (i.e. where the houses begin). No idea how long before they may get tumbled out to sea, but there is a striking Native salmon image carved in one of the beach logs last I saw.
Option One: If you want a small dose of uphill trail walking as you loop back toward your car, backtrack a bit from the carved log/end of the path and you’ll see a trail heading up into the trees. At the top, pause to take in the lovely view and catch your breath. Then follow that upper wooded path going along the ridge, with great peek-a-boo views here and there, and it will eventually take you back to the southern parking lot. If you parked in the bigger main lot, hang a left after passing the ball field and you’re heading in that general direction.
Option Two: To stick with a mellower pace, simply turn around and retrace your steps along the beach. There are a couple other ways to get to the upper park along the way, another trail-like, one or two paved I believe. The path at the shelter near the south end of the beach is the easiest grade, or just follow all the way back up that drive you walked down at the start
If you care to extend the adventure–and feel a bit hungry–you can head out that south edge of the park on Fauntleroy Way SW, walk past the ferry dock and up the hill, turning into SW Wildwood. When you hit the cross street of 45th Ave, you have a few options. To the right, the perfectly old-school Original Bakery and reliable comfort food with regional twists Endolyne Joe’s (a regular for us for casual, no-energy-to-go-far dinners). And to the left at the at corner, Wildwood Market, which I haven’t made it to yet.
There you go. An intro to some of my favorite elements of Lincoln Park. I do the same beach-to-trail-climb loop pretty often (more in summer of course). Though I start from my house way up on the hill, so I get the added bonus of going down and back up the Thistle Street Stairs. All 366 or so of them. Consider that an optional add-on as well.