Elliott Bay offers trail users the opportunity to enjoy art, history, and a wide variety of outdoor activities in a beautiful waterfront setting. Myrtle Edwards Park is adjacent to the Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle Art Museum, and a public fishing pier, while Elliott Bay Marina and Smith Cove Park boast beautiful mountain views. Creative trail bridges facilitate access to city streets for recreation and commuting.
To reach the Terminal 91 Bike Path, park at Elliott Bay Marina, and head downhill past the parking lots to Smith Cove Park. Here, you'll be treated to bay views of the Ferris wheel and stadium, dwarfed by Mount Rainier. This is also the site of the once-active Northern Pacific coal bunker pier—a 2,500-foot trestle constructed in 1891—replaced in 1899 by Great Northern Railroad Piers 88 and 89. In 1921, the Port of Seattle built Piers 40 and 41 (later renumbered to 90 and 91), which—at 2,530 feet—were acknowledged to be the longest concrete piers in the world.
Signs direct you toward a fenced pathway and past 20th Avenue W., which leads to the Ballard Locks. Beside active BNSF Railway tracks, a steep overpass suggests walking your bike or sidestepping your skates down the very narrow descent. After crossing a set of tracks, you'll arrive at the civilized and scenic trail beside the West Galer Street parking area at 1.75 miles. (Park here to avoid the Terminal 91 section.)
Once in Myrtle Edwards Park, you'll pass a public fishing pier and a grain terminal. A grassy area with benches and landscape art separates pedestrian and wheeled paths. Beginner skaters can expect a bit of buckled pavement and a few curves. An impressive bridge rises above the park to a Puget Sound viewpoint before the trail exits by stairway to Elliott Avenue W. and by ramp to Third Avenue W., with a signed route to Seattle Center. The bayside rocks, benches, and grassy areas invite a break before you reach Olympic Sculpture Park.
Exit to the sidewalk or the trail on the east side of Alaskan Way to enjoy summer concerts, the Ferris wheel, an aquarium, Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, and the ferries. The Seattle waterfront redesign begins in 2016 and will include open space and nonmotorized pathways along the waterfront.
On-street parking can be found at the southern trail endpoint if you're willing to search a bit and walk or cycle to the park. Busing here with a bike and to other pedestrian/bike access points is common.
Three pedestrian/bike bridges access the western side of the trail from Elliott Avenue. Turn west off Elliott Avenue on Galer Street, and walk up steps to a separated roadside trail over the BNSF tracks. Steps and a sidewalk descend to the road and under the bridge to the well-signed trail sites. An additional pedestrian/bike bridge with an elevator crosses the tracks here, closer to the fishing pier, to land on W. Prospect Street at Elliott Avenue The third bridge, described above, crosses from the south end of Myrtle Edwards Park and reaches W. Thomas Street for pedestrians and Third Avenue W on a cyclist ramp.
To reach Elliott Bay Marina from Interstate 5, take Exit 167 (W. Mercer Street). Go 1.6 miles, and turn right onto Elliott Avenue W. At 0.6 mile, turn left onto W. Garfield Street (follow the Magnolia Bridge signs). Stay in the right lane, and take the first exit to the right (follow signs for the Cruise Terminal and Elliott Bay Marina). At the bottom of the ramp, turn left. Park at the street end sign. Only permit parking is allowed in the lots unless you are dining at a restaurant.
To reach the parking area across from Pier 90, follow the directions above to Elliott Avenue W., and turn right. In 0.4 mile, follow the exit only signs for Terminals 86–91 and the Magnolia Bridge. Once you turn right, immediately bear left; the bridge will carry you over Elliott Avenue. At the end of the bridge, turn right onto Alaskan Way, and then turn right onto W. Galer Street. Parking is available along the trail.