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Arboretum trail will give Central Seattle its very own Green Lake

Rendering of the future trail (Images: City of Seattle)

Rendering of the future trail (Images: City of Seattle)

Planners expect a center line to help split traffic on the trail's curves

Planners expect a center line to help split traffic on the trail’s curves

Following this winter’s rains, crews will begin work on a paved trail weaving in an out of the wetlands and gardens of the Arboretum allowing pedestrians a closer connection to the natural preserve and giving bike riders an alternative to busy Lake Washington Blvd.

“Seattleites love Green Lake… this is going to be a great alternative walk in a spectacular Seattle park,” said Paige Miller who works for the Arboretum Foundation and sits on the joint committee that is supervising the project.

The 1.2-mile loop will be 12-feet wide and paved perfect for slower traffic including joggers and strollers. Bicycle riders will be able to pedal through the Arboretum rather than brave the winding, motor vehicle-filled Lake Washington Blvd.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 3.33.28 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 3.34.34 PMThe projects plans mostly complete after years of community feedback.The south half of the loop is expected to be under construction in spring 2015 and the north half will be done in 2016.

Washington State Department of Transportation and the Arboretumand Botanical Garden Committee collaborated to provide the funding of $7.8 million as mitigation for SR 520 bridge replacement. In June 2013, Seattle’s City Council approved $7.8 million from WSDOT to fund the project.

The $7.8 million covers the first phase of mitigation funding which will be for the trail and the replacement of a gravel parking lot.

The trail will go through areas of the Arboretum that are not usually accessible in the winter. Those areas are going to be restored with more native wetland plants to ensure stability for the trail.

The next phase of mitigation funding will go toward conservation efforts. The project will be “daylighting” the lower reaches of Arboretum Creek and restoring wetland areas. Pipes the creek runs through will be removed and people we be able to walk along the creek bed for the first time in decades.

The multi-use trail will hopefully be completed by winter of 2016 when the full loop is expected to open.

Find out about the project on the Washington Park Arboretum Multi-Use Trail Project Information page.

Rendering of the future trail (Images: City of Seattle)

Rendering of the future trail (Images: City of Seattle)

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37 thoughts on “Arboretum trail will give Central Seattle its very own Green Lake

  1. This seems like a great idea! It will make cycling through the area much safer, as long as it hooks up to Madison on the south. It will also make walking much more enjoyable, especially during the wet months when that area gets very soggy/muddy.

  2. I don’t like this plan at all. I walk through this area of the park just about every day and it has a ton of character the way it is. I am usually the only person on the walk, maybe there is one other person with a dog. It’s a waste of money and it’s cutting right through the soul of the park. Leave it the way it is. And I just looked at the plan and they aren’t even addressing the parking lot crime by the Interlaken lot. I see you are redoing it but how are you going to make it safer so cars aren’t constantly being broken into. I no longer park there after seeing broken car windows literally every day in broad daylight.

    • I share your concern that this plan will turn a totally natural area into something a little less so (with the paved path), but I think in the balance it’s a real improvement. There will be more people using the area, including cyclists, but isn’t that a good thing?

      • Who says more people will use it though? Generally it’s a ghost town from November to late spring, minus the people who park there all day who go to Huskies games.

        It gets use during weekends during the summer months I will give you that. The trail on the west side already exists from Interlachen on right now and gets very very little use. They can widen it and make it bikers only and I’m guessing spend less money on the project and not have to worry about conflicts between peds and cyclists.

        If you look where the survey markers are it looks like beautiful trees and a few gorgeous meadows are going to disappear or severely impacted under this plan.

        I am not surprised there has not been a single notice in the park about this project I think alot of people who actually use it regularly would have brought out pitchforks.

      • There are large boards with project information posted at several locations in the park that were put up earlier this year. I know of at least four that are in highly visible places. Project information has also been provided in mailers to surrounding neighborhoods, inviting residents and park users to public forums to discuss the project. I have received several over the past year. It has also been covered and featured on the Arboretum’s website, City of Seattle website, and local blogs. Personally I’m very excited about the project, as it provides additional options for both pedestrians and cyclists in the park, as well as for users who may not be able to easily navigate the current trails (i.e. elderly, disabled, etc).

    • No amount of infrastructural improvements or changes in the park is going to change the car prowl problem. That’s a policing issue (and, in a larger sense, a social / economic / cultural issue)

  3. This is great. Riding up Lake Washington is really dangerous and the curvy roads make it even worse when cars try to pass you on your bike. It looks thought out and it’s great to see the effort to make this more accessible.

    • Exactly. The plan actually says it’s not even for the people that ride fast on Lake Washington which is pretty much most of the cyclists I see blow through there. But I’m sure these are the ones who will end up using this path anyway and there will be more danger for people, kids, pets just going for a leisurely walk. They should have redone the path on the west side of Lake Washington blvd and left the east side as is. This is totally retarded.

  4. Love it. Biking through the arboretum on the road is a death trap. To Cloey, the Burke Gilman is a bike trail. That’s why there are so many cyclists. Get on a bike.

  5. worst idea ever! The arboretum is NOT supposed to be somebody’s thoroughfare. That was the argument for killing the freeway thru that space in the late 60s and for the interchange and expanded SR520. To pave in a trail like this invites greater and more irresponsible usage.

    might as well bulldoze the whole damn thing and put the freeway thru from 45 years ago.

    • The plan presentations online call it:
      “Multi-use Trail – A safer route for recreational bike users”

      I think that makes it pretty clear – this trail’s focus is going to be yet another bike route. Where is the multi-use part? The divided road bits are going to make it like Greenlake where, God help you if you step over the center line. Spandex-clad ragers will scream at you.

  6. I have been on a bike on the BG trail many times. And like I said it is dominated by fast riding, obnoxious cyclists..not unlike the jerk in NY that killed a pedestrian. Sad for the arboretum. It really isn’t meant to serve as a transportation alternative.

  7. If it’s really for walkers and kids, the gravel path they’ve already put in on Azalea Way is very workable — you’d just need to extend it. Pavement will invite fast cyclists. Also maybe on Burke Gilman as well, why not have some speed limit enforcement? We have bike cops. If bikers want to ride at vehicle speeds, they should be using the roads.

    • I so agree. Paving this is just going to create a speedway for angry bikers. Seriously, those of us who live in the area deal with said angry bikers all the time. Can we not keep someplace for people who actually walk?

    • “If bikers want to ride at vehicle speeds, they should be using the roads.” Where the drivers will then complain about them going too slow? Hmmm, it’s almost as if no matter what someone will complain.

      • If you ride on the roads, drivers may complain but you wont kill anyone. If you speed on a pedestrian trail, you may indeed kill someone.

      • That’s right Del. There are thousands of fatalities on the Burke-Gilman and Interurban Trail with maddened cyclists plowing into pedestrians willy nilly, yet our lovely automobile streets are completely death-free with every driver saying “After you, good sir!” to cyclists, and a car has NEVER plowed into a bike. How about developing some logic in that noggin of yours, kid? Perhaps the carbon monoxide from your SUV is muddying your thinking.

      • I don’t have an SUV, or even a car. I have seizures so I don’t drive. I walk, a lot, and take the bus. Thanks though for the personal attack vs. any actual debate of the topic. You don’t represent your cyclist cohorts well.

      • Del @ 7:44pm

        While Robert may not speak with the greatest sensitivity, his points are better reasoned. Your rebuttal disputed none of them.

      • Del, tell that to the family of Sher Kung :( Or the many other cyclists injured and killed riding on our streets. As a society and community we should be working to find safe travel solutions for all users.

  8. The Arboretum is a magnificent and very distinctive park. Green Lake isn’t that great, so the comparison by the author is extremely unfortunate. I hope they don’t need to cut down many trees for this and that they are able to route it away from the areas where many of the birds are nesting.

    • Where they cut the trees for the access road on to Roy at 29th Avenue East they just hacked them up. If you stand at the access road, it looks like Godzilla came stomping through the trees there. No effort whatsoever was made to have the trees look anything but butchered. When neighbors complained they were sent a landscaping plan that show the gaping, jaged hole of broken trees will 1/3rd filled with new growth in approximately THIRTY YEARS.

  9. According to the rendering, people of all ages can share the same spaces as bikes, all in harmony. It looks like we have nothing to worry about.

  10. Guys there are plenty of places to take a a leisurely stroll in the Arboretum area, but currently no safe/pleasant bike route. A good bike system encourages people to switch from cars to fast bikes, which I think is clearly an improvement.

    • Except when you take the walking trail and call it “multi use” in order to allow bikers to speed, scream at walkers and generally make it only theirs. It’s dangerous. Bikers are a tiny percent of the Seattle population. Enough shoving pedestrians off the paths for cyclists!

      • I just remembered something kind of interesting. There is already a paved road, that is closed to cars, that the runs almost the full length of the Arboretum. I think it is called Arboretum Drive. You can enter it by turning right just after passing the cute little stone garden house (by the Madison entrance). It goes all the way to the Visitor’s Center at the other end of the park. It closed to traffic about 7-10 years ago. Why don’t cyclists use that?

      • Good point. That upper road can certainly be used by those who want to walk in a quiet setting. I doubt it gets much cycle traffic, at least of the hell-bent variety, and will get even less when the new path opens.

      • If I bike through the park, I use Arboretum Drive East. Lake Washington Blvd is terrifying to me. What I like about Arboretum Drive is that it’s a big wide road, closed to most traffic, with plenty of room for everyone. I don’t usually see many cyclists there, as the commuters use Lake Washington or the loop route west of the park. The downsides of Arboretum drive are the connections at the north and south ends of the park (especially if you want to get from Madison to ADE without riding on LWB – your only choice is to ride the gravel path, or try to cross the boulevard). Also, the hills on ABE don’t seem like much, but they are a deterrent to casual cyclists. I believe the new path is intended to provide a flat-grade option for more casual users, as well as additional connections to the park.

  11. Since people have their knickers in a bunch about murderous speeding bicyclists killing hordes of innocent bystanders on this new multi-use trail…

    This project has been in the works for years. UW and the city have done an excellent job of outreach and seeking feedback from Seattle residents and local interest groups, like cycling groups and Arboretum members. This will not be a bicycle highway, in fact the path will have curves and a rough “pavement” as traffic-calming measures. The UW, Arboretum Foundation and city had discussions with cycling groups and bicycle commuters, who clearly indicated that for commute purposes, they will continue to use Lake Washington Blvd.

    This new path is designed to provide additional park access for both pedestrians and cyclists who want to experience the park. The murderous, pedestrian-killing, screaming, speeding, cyclists will continue to risk death on LkWaBlvd, or use the Lake Washington Loop route west of the Arboretum. So just chill, people.

    You can also view the final plan that addresses many of these concerns at

    • “Addresses many of the concerns” = We asked the cycle clubs, and they said they would all behave nicely.

      So much for actually addressing the concerns.

      The shut-up-if-you-aren’t-a-cyclist folks: “Real cyclists will not actually use this path to commute! Shaddup!”

      Every other cyclist posting here: “I can’t wait to use this path to commute!””

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  13. Almost $8,000,000 for a 1.2 mile trail and new gravel in a crime infested parking lot! Have we lost our minds?!?
    This is a waste of tax payers dollars.