Review of Seattle’s Latest Walking Guide

by Emily Moore Smargiassi

Walking guides of Seattle abound, but Take a Walk Seattle by Sue Muller Hacking, out now in its 4th edition, remains the ultimate guide to walking in nature in the Puget Sound region. A book for those who look forward to scenic walks close to home and work, Take a Walk Seattle includes only walks, “at least a mile in length…surrounded by greenery or close to water, and allow no motorized vehicles.”

As the emphasis is on walking, many smaller urban and suburban parks are excluded. For those looking for a parks guide, this book pairs nicely with the recently released Discovering Seattle Parks: A Local’s Guide by Linnea Westerlind, an exhaustive guide of the region’s 426 city parks.

The first update in six years, Take a Walk Seattle includes 120 walks – 10 more than the 3rd edition – from the original six regions: Everett, Seattle, the Eastside, South King County, Tacoma and Olympia. Readers will appreciate the new Walks at a Glance grid, which lays out the walks and their features in a simple spreadsheet and allows readers to search for walks meeting their desired traits.

Whether you are a dog lover, horse rider, stay-at-home parent, bird-watcher, beachcomber, or have ADA needs, Hacking has you covered. Take a Walk Seattle explains who shares the trails, how many miles of path and what type exist, which flora and fauna you can expect to see and hear, and whether or not there will be a bathroom when you need it. Updated setting icons denote the following nature areas: forest, river/stream, lake/wetland, meadow/farmland, nature preserve, Puget Sound, with the newly added mountain views as a category.

Hacking offers descriptions of the plants, creatures and scenery found on each walk. Her words are both specific and engaging. Take, for example, her description of the views from Lincoln Park, “From high on the bluff at Lincoln Park in West Seattle, the barges and ferries look like bathtub toys on the smooth water below. Madrona trees arch their vibrant red-barked limbs over the trail, and offshore an eagle may glide.”

Walks both familiar and unknown are a pleasure to read about, and as an avid runner and walker, I was surprised at how many were new to me. I found myself marking several parks and preserves to visit this summer and fall, including Carkeek Park just north of Golden Gardens, Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve with its 343 acres of wetlands and meadow backing up to the Snohomish River, and the 26-mile Foothills Trail in Puyallup, where I hope to encounter the bison and pygmy goat farm Hacking mentions.

My only criticism is not every walk includes a photo, some photographs merely highlight a plant or a park entrance sign and all of the photographs are black and white. Though this practice is not uncommon for a guidebook, it is still disappointing. Nevertheless, it is a minor complaint. Buy the guide, allow Hacking’s descriptions of Olympic views and warbling wrens to draw you out on a walk, and bring a camera. You can provide your own photos.

Emily Moore Smargiassi is a former reporter for the Spokesman- Review and a Rainier Beach resident