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Seattle park trails offer spectacular scenery in not-so-urban setting

SEATTLE — Chukundi Salisbury has arguably walked on more park trails in Seattle than anyone in the last two decades. As Seattle Parks and Recreation's Trails Coordinator, he has walked most of the 120 miles of trails in Seattle parks — often dozens if not hundreds of times, treading over the same paths season after season.

He's been on every boardwalk, switchback and pedestrian bridge, having helped build many of them.

We asked the Rainier Valley resident, who has been to all 465 city parks, for his top 10 favorite park walks.

Green Lake, for one, didn't make his cut. He prefers less-crowded parks. He wants instant gratification — short walks with a view, close to the parking lot, and kid-friendly. Here are his picks, in alphabetical order:

  • Camp Long, 5200 35th Ave. S.W. This 68 acre-park has 2.8 miles of trail but it's the 10 rustic cabins that make this West Seattle park different from any other metropolitan park, he said. At night you start a campfire by your cabin and it feels like you're deep in a forest when in reality you're a five-minute walk away from single-family homes and street traffic, he said. He likes the Lower Loop trail, which has a few inclines but isn't steep.
  • Carkeek Park, 950 N.W. Carkeek Park Road. It's a 220-acre park filled with meadows, wetlands, beach, six miles of trails and a salmon run at Pipers Creek. You get spectacular views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains without a long, strenuous hike, he said.
  • Discovery Park, 3801 Discovery Park Blvd. The city's largest park has 11.8 miles of trails spread across 534 acres, but his favorite walk is just off the north parking lot, the half-mile Wolf Tree Nature Trail. It's a raised trail with boardwalks over the wetlands. It's good trail for parents who want to keep track of their children.
  • Fauntleroy Park, 3951 S.W. Barton St. One of the best-kept secrets in the park system, he said. This 33-acre park with 1.5 miles of trail gets little foot traffic. On a weekday, you have the park to yourself. There's a patch of old-growth trees here that "makes you feel like you're in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest."
  • Frink Park, 398 Lake Washington Blvd. S., and Leschi Park, 201 Lakeside Ave. S. It's two parks, but locals treat them as one. You start from the top at Frink Park (17 acres) and hike down to Lake Washington through Leschi Park (18.5 acres). Less than a mile.
  • Golden Gardens Park, 8498 Seaview Place N.W. "Most people think of the beach, right?" Well, this Ballard park has 3.2 miles of trail, though it's not as flat and easy as the other walks on his list. The concrete steps aren't uniform. "Go to the overflow parking lot on the east side of the railroad track. At the north end of that overflow lot is the entrance to the Cistern Trail."
  • Lakeridge Park, 10101 Cornell Ave. S. This lush 36-acre park in South Seattle takes you through a ravine and features one of the city's largest creeks, Taylor Creek. "It's not a difficult trail and less than a mile, but it's steep in a few places. You walk along a creek and the trail takes you to the top, where there's a loop and a couple of bridges."
  • Lincoln Park, 8011 Fauntleroy Way S.W. He likes the path to Colman Pool as a family hike. Even children who hate the outdoors like it because they can play on the water slide when the outdoor pool is open in summer. But to get to the heated saltwater pool, they have to hike. No car access. Along the way, "there's trees and views of Puget Sound. And if you haven't worn your kids out in the pool, then the steep hike and stairs to get back to the parking lot just takes the energy right out of them."
  • Matthews Beach Park, 49th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 93rd Street. In the Sand Point area, Matthews Beach Park gets overshadowed by Magnuson Park, which is why he prefers the former. "It's more serene. I like trails that take you near the water. Matthews Beach gets you up against the water. It has a cool trail system that you can access right off the Burke-Gilman Trail."
  • Seward Park, 5895 Lake Washington Blvd. S. As Salisbury has learned from handling trail inquiries, folks are picky. He's heard it all. Want a park walk but not in the woods. Hate narrow trails. Don't want shoes to get dirty. Well, Seward Park is the answer, he said. This 300-acre park has old-growth forest and beaches, garden and a 2.4-mile biking-and-walking trail. There's something for everybody here: A perimeter trail if you fear insects and critters that rustle in the woods. A wide service road called the Spine Trail for walkers who complain that trails are too claustrophobic. And that trail isn't muddy.

West Seattle’s Camp Long not only has pleasant walks but rustic rental cabins that feel far from the bustle of the city. At night you start a campfire by your cabin and it feels like you’re deep in a forest when in reality youíre a five-minute walk away from single-family homes and street traffic. The Seattle Times photos - AP