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Interlaken Park

Puget Sound and Islands

Location

Puget Sound and Islands -- Seattle-Tacoma Area
View map below

Length

1.6 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 200 ft.
Highest Point: 325 ft.

Rating

3.00 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 
 

Interlaken Park is an oddly-shaped, hilly, forested park at the northern end of Seattle's Capitol Hill. It is fairly close to Volunteer Park and the Asian Art Museum and, in the opposite direction, to the Washington Park Arboretum. So a visit here can be combined with a visit to any of these other attractions.

As in any urban park, you are free to explore roads and trails on your own. Or, if you prefer a more structured experience the following route will give you a good introduction to the park.

  • From the trailhead, head west on the broad paved "trail." It's actually a continuation of E Interlaken Blvd so it looks more like a road, but this ongoing section has been restricted to foot and bicycle traffic. (Below, this route is referred to simply as "the road.")
  • In about 600 feet, note a trail leaving the road and heading uphill to your left, paralleling a small creek that may be dry in summer.
  • Take this trail and follow it uphill, avoiding two side trails to the right. Along the way there are some picturesque stairs that add interest.
  • In a quarter mile from the road, with about 175 feet elevation gain, you will reach a high point near the corner of E Galer St and 19th Ave E (a couple of other streets also meet here at odd angles, making for an unusually complex street intersection.)
  • Pause and catch your breath if you need to, then turn around and head back down the trail. In about 300 feet, head left at the trail fork, but avoid any footpaths that lead out to the side street to your left.
  • Later, at another trail fork, head left down the obvious stone stairs. The ongoing trail will approach the road, then follow along a few feet above it for some distance. Eventually, at a small gully, the trail drops back down to the road.
  • Continue left on the road for a while. In about 700 feet, at 19th Ave E, the ongoing road becomes open to cars again, so be alert.
  • Follow the road as it bends around sharply to the left, then take a 90-degree turn right to remain on the road (NOT a 180-degree turn. That would put you on a different street with a similar name.)
  • Stay on the road for about another 750 feet and, where it makes a sharp loop to the right, look on the left for a stone monument with a brass plaque. The monument honors Louisa Boren (1827-1916,) an early Seattle pioneer and longest surviving member of the historic Denny Party. 

A number of years ago, a steep trail began here behind the Boren monument and continued uphill all the way to a lookout at Louisa Boren Park near the corner of 15th Ave E and E Garfield St.

The trail seems to be there but it has been closed for a while. As of March 2018 it remained blocked at both ends by chained gates, and posted with signs announcing the closure and warning of unspecified dangers.

Perhaps by the time you do your hike this trail will have been repaired and be open again. If so, on a clear day it's worth hiking up to the lookout for the wide view of the Cascades. (Or you can drive around after your hike.)

Depending on the trail's status, you can do the optional hike up to the lookout and come back down (this will add a half-mile to your round trip, with an additional 230 feet of elevation gain.) Or, just turn around here at the monument and follow the road all the way back to your trailhead.

While this is not a wildflower hike, you may see a few flowers in season. The Indian plum begins to flower in late winter, along with a few non-native snowdrops introduced by early European settlers. Red currant blooms in early spring. Later, look for skunk cabbage, bleeding heart, trillium and fringecup.

 

Interlaken Park

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.6357, -122.3038 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Puget Sound and Islands -- Seattle-Tacoma Area

City of Seattle

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Guidebooks & Maps

GPS Northwest topo map

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Getting There

From I-5 in Seattle, take Exit 168B and head east on Hwy 520. In less than one mile, exit south onto E Montlake Pl E. (Don't miss this exit or you will end up going to Bellevue! Of course, if you are coming from Bellevue you will need to exit Hwy 520 here and head south.) The street bends slightly to the right and becomes 24th Ave E. In about a half mile you will cross Boyer Ave E (it has a signal light) and in another 200 feet you'll take a sharp right turn onto E Interlaken Blvd.

In about 700 feet, E Interlaken Blvd bends sharply left and becomes 21st Ave E. Your trailhead is on the right at this bend. As you approach the trailhead, look for parking in wide areas along the right shoulder of E Interlaken Blvd or, after you pass it, along the right side of 21st Ave E. Parking is free, and no passes are required.

Note that other streets near the park have similar names, such as Interlaken Dr E and Interlaken Pl E. Be careful not to confuse these with E Interlaken Blvd mentioned in this hike description.

There are no facilities at the trailhead, or anywhere in Interlaken Park. Be sure to plan accordingly.

Park hours are 4 a.m. – 11:30 p.m

take transit

This trailhead is accessible by bus! Plan your visit by bus using TOTAGO.

King County Metro route numbers 43 and 48 run along 24th Ave E and have stops at Boyer Ave E, a short walk from the trailhead. Alternatively, route number 12 has its northernmost stop at the high point at 19th Ave E and E Galer St.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 

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Interlaken Park

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