Top 10 urban hikes
THERE'S NO NEED TO TRAVEL FAR FOR A LITTLE OUTDOOR FUN AND EXCITEMENT. WE'VE PICKED OUR TOP TEN FAVORITE URBAN HIKES THAT WILL HAVE YOU AND YOUR INTREPID BUDDY PANTING FOR MORE.
Written by Craig Romano; photography by Emily Rieman, Daimian Lix & Jenifer Flynn
1. Mount Tabor Park PORTLAND, OREGON
One of the Rose City’s oldest and nicest parks, Mount Tabor has much for you and your retriever to sniff out. Stroll to the top of this extinct volcano for an explosive view of Mount Hood shining in the east and the Portland downtown skyline glimmering in the west. Amble along walkways through manicured grounds all while taking in views of the surrounding city. Check out the bronze statue sculpted by Gutzon Borglum (of Mount Rushmore fame) then let loose at the off-leash area near the Division Street entrance. On Wednesdays the entire park is car free transforming Tabor’s twisting roads into carefree trails. www.portlandonline.com/parks
2.Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Once a downtown freeway; this waterfront park is now a great way to spend a free day downtown. Named for Oregon’s maverick governor, Tom McCall, he was the driving force behind driving cars away from the Willamette waterfront. Now you and your attention-loving lab can stroll along Portland’s crown jewel of urban renewal. Languidly loll along the riverfront path admiring statues, fountains, sculptures, and gardens. Check out the Japanese American Plaza. Hungry? Cross one of the Willamette bridges over to Chinatown. And Portland’s eclectic Pearl District with its eateries, brew pubs, consignment shops and Powell’s Bookstore is within a Frisbee’s throw. www.portlandonline.com/parks
3.Columbia River Trail VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON
Long playing second fiddle to its larger more cosmopolitan cousin across the Columbia, Washington’s fourth largest city has been singing a new tune lately and it’s rife with sophistication and class. An urban renaissance is in motion in Vancouver transforming a once neglected waterfront into a first class residential, recreational, and commercial corridor. Take your tail-wagging wayfarer for a walk along the paved 2.6 mile Columbia Waterfront Trail. Skirt past marinas, shops, cafes, and brew pubs. Saunter by sculptures and monuments. Be sure to include a side trip to Fort Vancouver and Officer’s Row, a scenic stretch of quiet road lined with elegant trees and homes.
4. Ruston Way TACOMA, WASHINGTON
Washington’s third largest city has also been undergoing a renaissance of late, and its waterfront is also not to be missed by dog walking explorers. Ruston Way is a delightful path weaving together parks, piers, and public art along two miles of scenic waterfront on Commencement Bay. Take in serene views of Vashon Island or stunning glimpses of Mount Rainier while putzing along on this path. There’s beach access along the way and neighboring Old Town makes for a delightful espresso diversion. Tacoma’s Thea Foss Waterfront with its fine museums; the Washington State History and Tacoma Art among them; is nearby making for a great extension or future walk.
5. Alki Beach SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
The closest thing in the Northwest to a California beachfront community, Seattle’s Alki Beach will satisfy you and your loveable lab’s longing for surfside sauntering. Teeming with runners, strollers, bathers, rollerbladers, volleyball players, and a wide array of others during the summer, in the cooler months, Alki mellows out making it a perfect place for peaceful doggie dawdling. While your buddy marches on nose to the ground, you can take in stunning views of the Seattle skyline glimmering across Eliot Bay, or the majestic snow-capped Olympic Mountains shining across Puget Sound. Walk for over 2.0 miles here at the birthplace of Seattle and home of the Statue of Liberty (Ok not the statue, just a cool replica!).
6. Washington Park Arboretum SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Take your antsy border collie for a walk among dogwoods and a myriad of other trees and shrubs in the Washington Park Arboretum. Managed by the University of Washington and owned by the city of Seattle, this 230 acre island of greenery on the shores of Lake Washington offers excellent trekking terrain for you and your terrier. Wander over five miles of interconnecting trails through lush floral arrangements. Explore lakeshore, ridgeline or ravine within this diverse landscape. Fall colors are always spectacular while spring’s blossoms are equally impressive.
7. Myrtle Edwards Park SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
If you and your promenading pup desire a little downtown action, Myrtle Edwards Park is the place to shake a paw. Stroll on a paved 1.25 mile path along Elliot Bay watching vessels ply across the sound. Admire Seattle’s handsome skyline. Early evening entice with breathtaking sunsets over the craggy Olympic Mountains. Be sure to wag on over to the new Olympic Sculpture Park, an adjacent 8.5 acre aesthetically appealing outdoor attraction. Recently unveiled to the public, this $85 million project has helped the city reunite and reconnect with its waterfront. While the twenty sculptures will have more of an appeal to two legged walkers, the shoreline section of the park has fast become a favorite spot for downtown dwelling dogs.
8. Lake Hills Greenbelt BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON
Offering two miles of superb walking through historic farmland, quiet forest groves and along tranquil lakeshore, Lake Hills is just minutes from Bellevue’s bustling downtown. Begin your eastside escapade from the greenbelt’s Visitor’s Center (SE 16th Street) where you can map your march depending upon your mood. On crushed gravel paths venture north to Larsen Lake and its blueberry farm. Or on paved pathways proceed southward across songbird enriched fields to Phantom Lake. Your furry friend will find plenty of evidence of resident critters while you’ll have no problems spotting them.
9. Riverfront Park SPOKANE, WASHINGTON
Legacy of the 1974 Worlds Fair, Spokane’s Riverfront Park is the centerpiece attraction of Washington’s second largest city. Always bustling with residents and visitors alike taking to the park’s rides, eateries, and other attractions, this downtown park on the Spokane River also has a few quiet corners. With your retriever in lead, wind along the array of paths traversing the park. Enjoy sauntering across the numerous bridges spanning the river. Marvel at the beauty and force of crashing, careening Spokane Falls. Extend your leg stretching session on the Centennial Trail or the Sculpture Walk. When you’ve had enough, retreat to a nearby restaurant or pub for some recharging.
10. Manito Park SPOKANE, WASHINGTON
Gracing Spokane’s historic and quaint South Hill neighborhood, 90-acre Manito Park makes for a peaceful retreat from bustling downtown. A walk through this park will immediately instill a feeling of a slower less frenetic time. Manito is well-known for its gardens and both and your hound with his well honed senses will delight in the fury of fragrances filling the air. In autumn the park’s array of ornamental hardwoods brighten the gray skies with their red, orange and yellow foliage. Your attentive pointer will absolutely not want to miss Manito’s duck pond.
Craig Romano is an outdoor writer and author of several guidebooks including Best Hikes with Dogs: Inland Northwest.