Friday, February 8, 2013

The Olmsted Vision Stairway Walk - Seattle - January 13, 2013

One of several sets of stairs that we walked.

This was a really fun urban walk that I did with a friend. The walk comes from a book called Seattle Stairway Walks An Up And Down Guide To City Neighborhoods. The name of the walk is The Olmsted Vision. This walk takes you through three parks; Washington Park Arboretum, Interlaken Park and Volunteer park. More about the walk in a minute. An interesting Washington State History tie in to my last post about Northern State Hospital. The Olmsted Firm (a very historically significant landscape architecture firm) designed both the grounds of Northern State Hospital and the three parks above as well as other parks and grounds across the country from 1857-1979. Okay, enough history. I just thought it was interesting and had to share.

The whole idea of urban stairway walks is new to me. I had no idea that such a book existed. It's a great way to be able to get your exercise walking in the city, but it's also very similar to hiking with all of the stairs you go up and down.

We parked on a neighborhood street near the Montlake Branch of the Seattle Public Library. We went on a Sunday, so street parking didn't have a time limit. There are public transit options and other parking options listed in the book. If you decide to do this walk or others in the book you will definitely need the book for the maps and details. My local Snohomish County Library has the book and I'm on the waitlist for it now, although I'm thinking about purchasing it.

A beautiful bench along the route

We followed the map and route from the book, walking for a while and then stopping at the Volunteer Park Cafe for a delicious snack (I had coffeecake) and tea. After we finished our snack, we headed back out along the route.

We climbed more stairs...

Soon we arrived at Volunteer Park.

We saw a peek-a-boo view of the Space Needle through a sculpture.

 There wasn't much color out on this cold, winter day, but I spotted these and had to take a picture.

Another, natural set of stairs.

Which brought us to the Volunteer Park Water Tower with more stairs and beautiful views!

Climbing the water tower stairs.

View of the Space Needle from the water tower.

Seattle Skyline from the water tower

St. Joseph Catholic Church in the distance

A beautiful home outside Volunteer Park

Who knew there was an urban mountain bike skills park right under I-5?

A little more winter color I spotted:

Anyone have any idea what this is?

We walked past the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery. A Civil War cemetery.

Another beautiful view of the Seattle Skyline with the mountains in the background.

Another set of stairs to climb.

 A couple of fungus pictures, just because I couldn't help myself. ;-)

And a pretty piece of glass that I spotted in someone's garden along the way.

I highly recommend giving one of these stairway walks a try. There's no better way to spend a dreary winter day than exploring an interesting area that's close to home.

I'm going on another Stairway Walk this weekend. Stairway Walks Day is happening on Saturday and I'll be going on the Maple Leaf and Thornton Creek walk. I'll blog about it soon and let you know what I thought.

Happy Trails!


  1. The "strawberry" is the fruit of Arbutus unedo, which happens to be called "strawberry tree". It is evergreen and has white little bell flowers in the spring and the fruit is edible, though not especially tasty. Love your blog!

    1. Thank you MIchelle. :-) They certainly do add a nice bit of winter color to a landscape!