Probably I like this trail for all the wrong reasons.
I would assume that the industrial strength section, which lies closest to the Ballard Bridge, will not get rave reviews for its shipyards, scrapped vessels, and old wooden warehouses that haven't seen a paintbrush for decades.
As for me I like this stretch of the Ship Canal Trail best because it offers something the glamorous Burke-Gilman does not.
I am a sucker for anything nautical.
For example the other day headed east on the trail a few hundred yards from the south end of the Ballard Bridge I saw before me orange flames licking the sky.
This turned out to be a Fremont Maritime Services "fire at sea" drill.
The company provides certified training to ships crews in fire emergency resposnse aboard the good ship Fire Dragon right beside the trail.
It was quite realistic and interesting taking all this in whilst the PA was summoning the crew to deal with " a fire in the engine room with a severed fuel line".
I cycled a bit farther and came upon rusting stern section of the Malila ..that was all that survived after her long since scrapping.
There were more relics of the sea. The good old Foss buoys that guard the entrance to one of Seattle's oldest maritime services.
Yeah I like the other half of the trail heading east where the Seattle Pacific University campus trail begins. what's not to like about park like, lawns, picnic tables, benches and canal and Fremont Bridge opening and closing viewpoints?
Always interesting marine traffic on the canal...kayakers, yachts, hard working tugs shoving barges, tour boats and the like.
The Ship Canal Trail is kinda the Newark International Airport of Seattle bike trails. You go through it to go to a lot of destinations.
Commuters ride it downtown.
You can stay on it (easterly) going under the Fremond Bridge and take the SouthLake Union loop where you can end up in the University District. You'll go right by the Washington Museum of History and Industry, The Center For Wooden Boats and some of Seattle finest restaurants.
Or you can take the path off ramp past the funeral home crossing the bridge to hook up with the Burke-Gilman Trail that can take you west to Ballard and Golden Gardens or east to Redmond.
I usually access the trail via the south end of the Ballard Bridge. (most trail users use the south end of the Fremont Bridge)
At the very end of the bridge go down the steps that will lead you to the Ship Canal Trail. Be careful crossing the roadway under the bridge then go right to go to the Fremont Bridge ..or.left to go downtown via Magnolia, the Pier 91 crusie ship terminal, Myrtle Edwards Park, Olympic Park and Alaskan Way no far from the Pike Place Market and other stuff to see on the waterfront.
Not as much traffic on this trail.
Have the feeling many haven't discovered this one yet. It's still relatively new.
It opened in 2011.
I have found it to be usually uncrowded.