Burke-Gilman Trail


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Burke-Gilman Trail Facts

States: Washington
Counties: King
Length: 18.8 miles
Trail end points: Golden Gardens Park at Seaview Pl NW (Seattle) and 102nd Ave NE near Woodinville Dr/SR 522 (Bothell)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6031319

Burke-Gilman Trail Description

Spanning nearly 19 miles between Seattle and Bothell, the Burke-Gilman Trail is as much a thoroughfare for commuting to work and the University of Washington as it is a staple for social recreation and fitness. Built in the 1970s, the trail was among the first rail-trails in the country and helped inspire dozens of similar projects around the nation.

Golden Gardens Park and the Sammamish River Trail mark the boundaries of the Burke-Gilman Trail, once a line of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway (SLS&E). Created in 1885 by two prominent Seattle residents, Thomas Burke and Daniel Gilman, the SLS&E was purchased by the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1901. Heavy traffic by the logging industry sustained the line through 1963, and the corridor became inactive in 1971. The heavy traffic continues as trail users make their way from Puget Sound to Lake Union and Lake Washington.

You can start your journey at Puget Sound at the Golden Gardens Park entrance, on the east side of Seaview Avenue NW. Reach the NW 60th Street Viewpoint by traversing the waterfront and marina for just over a mile. Signs direct you to cross Seaview Avenue and head 0.7 mile to the Ballard Locks. The sidewalk along Seaview Avenue, now NW 54th Street, connects to NW Market Street in downtown Ballard.

To reach the 1-mile on-road portion of the missing trail link, turn right at Shilshole Avenue NW. Turn left onto NW Vernon Place, and then turn right onto Ballard Avenue NW. A right onto 17th Avenue NW returns you to Shilshole Avenue, where the road is painted for cyclists and becomes NW 45th Street after crossing under the Ballard Bridge. Return to the sidewalk and trail at 11th Avenue NW and 45th.

Leaving Puget Sound, you will find yourself in a park beside the Fremont Canal that connects the sound to Lake Union. Past the steps waits Fremont, a great area for food, gelato, a glimpse of the famous Fremont Rocket, a Vladimir Lenin statue, and an infamous troll statue. This brings you to Lake Union, 5 miles from Golden Gardens Park. The trail turns right onto N. Northlake Way at N. 34th Street, guiding you to the historic waterfront of a former coal gasification plant, Gas Works Park, where kite flying is popular. Next stop: University of Washington, but not before the orange Wall of Death (an art installation representing a motorcycle velodrome).

Circling around the U District (so named for the University of Washington) and retail area at mile 7 will put you on a secluded path of maples, dogwoods, and occasional firs. You'll then pass above the waterfront Magnuson Park at NE 70th Street, a former naval station next to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. At mile 13, a bridge crosses Sand Point Way NE. To your right lies Seattle's largest freshwater swimming beach, Matthews Beach Park.

Lakeside homes on tiny streets line the trail beyond. The city of Lake Forest Park welcomes you at mile 16, where you'll pass a serpent fountain and a mural as you parallel Bothell Way NE/State Route 522. Two lakefront parks provide a respite from this 3-mile commercial district. At Ballinger Way NE/SR 104, look toward the lake for the tiny Lyon Creek Waterfront Preserve. Tracy Owen Station, also known as Log Boom Park, is the last lakefront stop, offering restrooms, a water fountain, a play area, and history.

Leave the roadside at the north end of Lake Washington for the riverfront. At mile 20, you can head straight over a bridge into Blyth Park or fork left to continue onto the Sammamish River Trail. Buses will return you to Ballard, or you can continue to the east side of Lake Washington and onto Snoqualmie Valley or to the Columbia River.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available at a number of locations along the trail. View the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions. 

Burke-Gilman Trail Reviews

Great trail with a couple glitches

The Burke-Gilman Trail is excellent and was important in creating the concept of Rails to Trails. The trail is all good but could be better in spots. The trail is missing a section between Ballard and the UW. Don’t expect to find a parking space in Ballard. Between UW and Bothell, the trail is very good except that in many places the bumps (from roots) and cracks in the pavement are excessive. In Bothell, the Burke-Gilman transitions directly into the Sammamish River Trail, which goes to Woodinville and Redmond. One of the most convenient parking areas for the Burke-Gilman Trail is actually the Wilmot Gateway Park on the Sammamish River Trail. One wish (besides fixing bumps) is that there was a convenient place to charge ebikes on the trail.

Great Trail but

Now don’t get me wrong this is a great trail! The length is stellar. The trail gives the user a great insight to the users and the community it stretches across. I just completed it today. Observations. Why is there a blank spot on a map and lack of signage between ballard locks to shilshole ave? I only figured this out from a local company in the area. Good job Ped2Go! The trail lacks maintenance and care between UW to Lake Forest. There is alot of tree roots pushing up the trail. I can’t imagine how many near accidents this causes. When a cyclist gets to Inverness Ct north to Blythe Park the trail shows sign of care and upkeep! But still a great trail to do in a day ¿

very busy

Road construction and lots of people using the trail. But great views of the lake and beautiful homes along the way. Well marked and loved all 36 miles round trip.

Road/Construction Noise

The trail was fantastic. The road noise from construction going on the street above was very scary for me and my dogs. We parked at Blyth Park, well maintained park area and easy access to the trail. It was a HOT day and it was nice to find a place where the dogs could jump in the water and kool off.


Very well maintained trail

1. People use this trail as their daily commute.
2. Very well maintained.
3. Not much bumps but there are quite few.
4. You can turn off your mind and just bike on this trail.

Great Family Trail

One of the best trails! I sometimes go on my own or with my family on Sundays. When you get to Kenmore stop at the 193 Brewery and grab a cold one. Cheers

Wonderful trail

Rode round trip ride starting from Blythe Park in Bothel. Started out early morning on a Saturday so it wasn't crowded at all. The trail is well maintained. The trail passes by Lake Washington and the homes alongside the trails are a sight to see. Great spot for pictures and a pit stop at Gas Works Park.
The missing link portion is annoying. I failed to follow the directions listed on the description page for this trail and lost my way. I had to ask some riders for assistance to get back on the trail. Thank goodness for my fellow cyclists.
The only low point would be the one or two homeless people who've pitched their tents along the trail. Other than that the trail is popular and safe.

Multiple Rides During Every Visit to Seattle

A sunny Sunday afternoon can bring traffic jams on the trail, but most of the time I use it during the week when traffic is much lighter. Have found it to be a comfortable ride with many places to stop and enjoy other activities. Would love to see the local street portion improved to make it safer, and enjoy the newest route through the university much more than the old detour. Have ridden well past Matthew's Beach and like that section of the trail the most. It is quieter and not as heavily traveled.

Fantastic paved trail with great scenery

Running from Ballard to the top of Lake Washington, the Burke-Gilman is a fantastic multi-use trail. It's paved throughout although some of the older sections have ridges where tree roots have pushed up the asphalt.

There is usually a fair amount of pedestrian and bike traffic so you need to be careful but most users are considerate.

The section that runs around Lake Washington is largely through residential neighborhoods. Restrooms are available every 5 miles or so at parks that adjoin the trail. If you are looking for a starting point, these parks have parking lots as well. There isn't many food options through this area.

Between UW, through Fremont and Ballard, it is not residential but rather light industrial and office space. Food is more available at many restaurants and bars along the way. Gasworks Park will have public restrooms.
Toward the Ballard end of the trail, the trail becomes a big dodgy as you are crossing busier streets which also have railroad tracks interspersed. It will be a challenge for new riders.

Along the whole ride there are great views ; some of the Lake Washington, some of Mt Rainier, some of the city and Lake Union.

Note there are also a handful of bike shops along the way.
15mph speed limit.

Ahead of it's time...

I love this trail - that is the short answer. Many people are able to safely commute to the University of Washington, and bike riders, joggers, skaters, walkers etc. are all able to co-exist in relative harmony. The path is also used for exercise and nature gazing. In my opinion all larger cities considering expanding their human powered trail systems would be wise to really investigate and study the Burke-Gilman.

good laid trail

It's laid through out. That's good for all type of bikes. Connects to sammamish river trail 25 miles which connects to sammamish connector trail which is 37 miles altogether. Good on a sunny day. Completed sammamish river trail and Burke gilman in 2 hr 10 mins. Loved it!!

Urban and busy but USEFUL !!

Yep, very busy trail.... bikes, walkers, dogs, kids, strollers and even a group of volunteers called "Friends of the Burke-Gilman" working to make less weeds and more native plants to beautify the scenery !! Look out for BIG bumps that are mostly marked with strips of spray paint. Call out when you are passing, please!


This is one of my favorite paved trails in the U.S.
It goes for miles from Seattle to past Bothell WA.
It is wide and in good condition.
It meanders through many Seattle neighborhoods - many views of the water, through the University of Washington, through miles and miles of beautiful countryside of orchards, hot air balloons - connecting to the Sammish River Trail near/in Bothell, WA.
It can be crowded on the weekends.
Just lovely to ride it at dusk.

I love this trail

My wife, son (10yrs) and daughter (5yrs) & I tried this trail on Memorial Day (5/25/15. I was towing my daughter on a trailer bike {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trailer_bike}. The trail is easy and I had to encourage my daughter to rest her legs because she wanted to peddle all the time. My daughter sang some made up hilarious songs as we peddled along¿. The parks and scenery along the Sammamish River was so nice and breathtaking. We only rode from Bothell. We rode from BRIDGE TO BOTHELL LANDING Park to MARYMOOR PARK SUBWAY and back…..which is a total of 18.32 Miles.

We will certainly try it again. We have tried Inter-Urban and Centennial ones, and Burke Gilman so has been impressive and my kids loved it. Yes, it can be congested because it’s a popular runs through fairly populated neighborhoods. . Centennial would be ideal for those who want long distance and less congested trails.

I ride this daily

and it is terrible. There are a large number of blind intersections where vegetation blocks the view of crossing traffic. The few intersections that don't have obstructed views, crossing traffic rarely stops before crossing the path, creating very dangerous conditions. And then there are tree roots, tree roots and more tree roots. Seattle Department of Transportation does not care one iota about maintaining or improving this path. I think the fact that it is considered some sort of prized rails-to-trail trail gives them a free pass on all of its dangerous flaws.

trail manners please

The trail provides beautiful scenery & for the most part, a break from the noise & motorized traffic. However, I was very disappointed in the lack of common courtesy ( let alone the lack of following the laws) by most of the cyclists I encountered.
I felt in danger many times & even checked the signs to be sure pedestrians were allowed.
A nice peaceful walk usually turns into frustration in the lack of sharing the trail with pedestrians as well as cyclists.

Too much construction through UW campus

We started our ride on the BGT at Gas Works park and planned to ride north toward Kenmore, which is on the north end of Lake Washington. It was our first time on the trail but from the reviews and description it appeared to be an easy-to-follow trail so didn't take navigation with us. Unfortunately, soon after passing under I-5 we encountered considerable major construction and detours. That along with lack of signage caused us to lose the trail several times. Finally, around the UW sports complex, we lost it completely. We searched for some time but after navigating bad sidewalks, busy streets and intersections, we turned around and biked through the UW campus (which was nice). I suggest bypassing the trail around UW until construction is completed. Instead go west through Fremont and Ballard or start up in Bothell and bike south.

Great Trail!

The Burke-Gilman has come a long way since I was a kid. I enjoyed the trail today with my son and it brought back some wonderful memories! Yes there is a bit of wear on the trail but the amount of families and commuters it supports is amazing. I'm glad it is here for our enjoyment :)

Nice and flat, good scenery, the way I like it.

I rode from Lake Forest Park to Redmond for the first time. Not the first time I've been on this trail, but just the first time I've ridden that far. Didn't go all the way to Marymore Park because I was tired by the time I got to where I turned around (not quite sure where that was, but my cell-phone navigator said I was in Redmond). To be precise, the navigator said I was 3 miles past 132nd St and Woodinville-Redmond Rd, where I needed to go to catch a bus back home.

In answer to another reviewer, I took the Sammamish River fork and it comes out in Woodinville right behind Molbak's. Good scenery along the river, nice open green spaces. I wasn't in a hurry, and spotted a Great Blue Heron on the prowl in the river. I stopped and watched him snatch a fish from the river.

There were parts along the way that looked more like Eastern Washington farms with irrigation equipment that aren't real exciting. Another good point is you're not very far from bus lines if you get tired.

Rollerbladed trail from Gaswork to Matthews Beach Park

I roller bladed this trail from Gasworks to Matthews Beach park and back to Gasworks yesterday afternoon. Overall quite okay experience, but time to time bumpy surface. Also, trail is under maintenance in University District, so it was a bit inconvenient to skate on the streets.

This is a nice trail except that there are several areas where tree roots have raised the trail and makes for a bumpy ride. It would be a five star if there were some repairs to smooth out the pavement.

How to get to Woodinville on the B-G Trail?

I'm not clear, from reading the description of the Burke-Gilman Trail route, whether the trail will get me to Woodinville. Does it go that far? Thanks!

TRAILBEAR AT THE NORTH END: Northern Burke-Gilman Trail facilities survey

TRAILBEAR AT THE NORTH END: Burke-Gilman Trail facilities survey

Mid July find the TrailBear surveying the upper Burke-Gilman Trail (BGT). This is one of Seattle’s more popular trails, but you would not know it from the TrailLink page. The page has four pictures and reviews from seven years back. Worse, the TL map is missing a number of facilities.

Step One is always the on-line search. TB checked out the maps from the various sources. They do not agree. It ends here. It ends there. It runs here, but it also runs there. Which trail goes where?

He looked at the TrailLink map. The BGT appears to be upslope of the BGT along the river. Huh? He parked at the Sammamish River Park and started riding. Soon he determined that Google Earth has mislabeled the Sammanish River Trail at this point the Burke Gilman Trail – at least according to the signs the trail manager has placed.

The trail along the river in Bothell is the Sammamish River Trail. It crosses the river on a wooden bridge at 47.752296° x -122.209970°, climbs uphill and T-bones into the Burke-Gilman as it crosses the Sammamish River on a handsome trestle bridge further downstream. Beyond that junction the trail is signed “Burke Gilman Trail.”

Turn left at the trail junction, cross the trestle bridge and see where this trail goes. It goes to a sudden end where it turns into sidewalk at the …

NORTH TRAIL END, GE: N47.75660 W122.20525

There is a sign noting the end of the trail and the blacktop turns to concrete. It would appear that the BG right of way is now East Riverside Drive. Not much action here. No trailhead, no parking lot, no facilities. Take a photo or two and head back down the trail to a rather attractive trailhead by the bridge called …

BLYTH PARK, GE: N47.75082 W122.20839

This park offers parking, restrooms with a bike rack, water fountain, picnic shelter and more. The end of the Tolt Pipeline Trail (for mountain bikers) is here. You can use the park to stage for the BGT, but most folks are down on the river in the Sammamish River Park (parking only) or the Bothell Landing Park (water, restrooms, parking, old school house, etc.). They ride that little bit of the Sammamish River Trail up to the BGT and onward. If you want a quiet and attractive trailhead, here it is.

We are going to rewind and go back up the river to Sammamish River Park and do the ride the way most folks do it. Back to …

SAMMAMISH RIVER PARK, GE: N47.75834 W122.20392

Not much here aside from a large gravel parking lot and an info kiosk. If you head upstream there is an exercise circuit along the trail. You want to hang a left and head downstream. There are better facilities at the …

BOTHELL LANDING PARK, GE: N47.75811 W122.20845

In a mere tenth of a mile you come to a charming arched wooden bridge over the sluggish Sammamish. It leads to Bothell Landing Park and much better facilities than at Sammamish River Park. There is water, flushies, parking, tables, a historical museum, the original school house with big bronze bell and more. Not a bad choice for a trailhead. Back over the bridge and ride on to the …


Take a right and head for the 96th Ave. underpass. It dumps you out at golf course parking lot. Now the trail runs alongside Bothell Way for roughly 2.5 miles to …

LOG BOOM PARK, GE: N47.75771 W122.26345

The Log Boom Park in Kenmore is an attractive lakeside and trailside park. TrailBear remembers Back When there were actual log booms here. It was a booming ground then. Logs were made up into rafts and towed down lake to the mill. Now it’s a park. Lot of bikies stopping in or staging from here.

The park offers restrooms, water, parking, a history walk, tot lot a fishing pier and a nice rest area with tables down by the water. The ladies loo is unusual: There is an interesting wall of ceramic art outside it. The mens’ loo got left out.

As a trailhead, the park may be too popular – at least in summer. TB found the parking lot almost full on a July Friday afternoon. The sun was out. Probably more room if it’s raining. If you are coming on a sunny summer day, come early.

One nice feature, never before seen on other trails in five western states: They have a Rest Room thataway sign up on the trail. Nice idea. While the ride along Bothell Way was mostly open, you now have some shade ahead. Your destination is the …

FISH FOUNTAIN WAYSIDE, GE: N47.75333 W122.27652

Half the fun of trail survey is finding new things around the next bend. Here is one now. Where the trail crosses Ballinger Way at Bothell Way (across from the mall) there is a shaded wayside with tables, benches, a brook and a fish fountain. Yes, it’s a stock fountain, but there is a large concrete fish draped across the upright, watching you drink. Check it out in the photo section. It’s whimsical public art.

Across the street from the fish fountain is a mall that would make a nice commercial trailhead: Lake Forest Park Towne Centre. The spelling shows that “it got class”. (TB likes “Ritz Pointe” – a flossy development in Monarch Beach. The name says it all. It got class, too.)

Now the trail stays mostly in shade, always welcome on a hot July day. It runs under the bluff and has views of the backs of the homes that have the lakefront view. There is an occasional rare spot where you can see more than a peek-a-boo view of the lake until you reach …

MATTHEWS BEACH PARK, GE: N47.69611 W122.27412

Its 5.5 miles from Log Boom to the beach. The exit is well signed. Get off the trail at the handy Rest Rooms thataway sign, turn right and head up that knoll. This puts you at the very top of the picnic area with a selection of tables, benches with views of the lake and a good view of the tot lot below. The facilities are below, but you can stay far above the madding crowd, if desired.

If the TrailBear thought Log Boom was crowded, he should have waited until Matthews Beach. Zoo! It has a larger parking lot and it was full, full, full. TB had to circle, along with the others, waiting for a spot to open.

It has a swimming beach and was full of kids and families trying to lose that NorthWet fish belly white color and replace it with something pink or red. It has restrooms with showers (changing room for kiddies), water, a beach, picnic area and crowds and urchins underfoot. However, the BGT is just up the road, crossing Sand Pt Way on a small bridge (first one since the Sammamish River).

If you are going on ahead, the next stop is the former Sand Pt. Naval Air Station, then the descent to the University of Washington. The BGT is following the original shoreline of Lake Washington before they built the locks and lowered the lake.

Those playing fields and parking lots and such to the north of Husky Stadium are the remains of the former Montlake Dump. TrailBear remembers them well: Full of seagulls dining. They filled in a marsh, which today would have you hung in the public square.

< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Bay_Natural_Area>

From there the trail goes to Gas Works Park, then to the gap at Salmon Bay. It starts again at the Locks and heads to the trail end at Shilshole Marina.

Ride on!

Heading back for his dinner.

I've been in Heaven...

"I'm 47-years-old fitness/training roller skater. I did this trail for 3 hrs 10 min. I will not find anything to even compare to this trail with respect to scenery any time soon.

The Sammamish River portion has a grainy asphalt surface, so softer wheels could make it easier to handle. My 80mm 78A did a very good job for me, although I doubt I can use them again.

Seattle drivers were very nice as well as numerous bikers on the trail."

Urban/suburban/rural delight

"This trail is wide, smooth, scenic and highly varied in sights. In some ways, we found it more fun than the nearby San Juan Islands (although they provide an entirely different--read that ""roller-coaster"") ride. The entire northwest near Seattle and the Vancouver, B.C. areas provide many good biking trails and spectacularl sightseeing. "

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