Biking Ballard Locks and Disovery Park Magnolia in Seattle

If the kids have been inside too long and you want to remind them what trees look like, consider a day in Ballard. I recommend starting at Discovery Park in Magnolia. Discovery park ( is 534 acres and the largest park in Seattle. There are trails and paths to bike and walk, as well as ample space to enjoy some quiet time reading or picnicking. Bring a kite too, as there is lots of open space.

On a clear day you can see both the Cascade Mountains and the Olympic Mountains. There is ample wildlife thanks to the sanctuary at Discovery Park. There are picnic tables, tennis courts and the Daybreak Star Cultural Center is available for rental as well.

After Discovery Park, hop on your bike and ride a short ways downhill to the Ballard Locks, off Commodore Way. Spend some time watching the fish ladder and seeing the salmon jump out of the water (no matter how many times I see this, I am still amazed!). Don’t forget to witness the genius of the locks in action as boats move from fresh water to salt water and back. Designed by Hiram Chittenden and opened in 1917, the Locks use gravity to control the flow of water and movement of boats from fresh water level to salt water level. This is not only an amazing design, but also a piece of history in motion.

A stroll through the arboretum will ignite your senses. In the summer there are jazz concerts for all to enjoy while the boats go by. If there’s time, consider taking a tour and learning more about the Locks.

After the Locks, ride down the new continuation of the Burke-Gilman trail to Shilshoe Bay and Golden Gardens ( While this park can be a pain to get to )and park in) by car, it’s a great, mostly flat bike ride. There are picnic benches, barbeque grills, and fire pits. This is a popular Seattle park so if you want to reserve a picnic table, do so ahead of time through the Seattle Parks Dept. There is a playground for kids, a walking path, and plenty of people watching opportunities.

If you don’t want to ride all the way back to Magnolia, you can catch a bus (44, 17) back at the Locks (if you are biking with a trailer, you’ll have to bike back, as the bus can only take single bikes on the rack). If you’d like to continue your ride, you can bike to the Fred Meyer in Ballard (off Leary Way) and get on the Burke-Gilman trail).

Depending on your desire and ability this could be an extensive ride, or just a pleasant way to see nature with city limits.

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