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Seattle, Washington, United States

Green Lake Park

One of Seattle’s most beloved parks. This hike loops around Green Lake.

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2.8 miles / 4.5 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
Overview: Geologists say the Vashon Glacial Ice Sheet, which also formed Puget Sound and other area lakes, formed Green Lake 50,000 years ago. Dredgings of Green Lake have produced volcanic ash from an eruption of Glacier Peak that occurred about 6,700 years ago.

The lake was included in the Olmsted Brothers’ comprehensive parks plan, and was given to the City by the State of Washington in 1905. Green Lake underwent a series of changes over the next 15 years- it was diked, dredged and filled until it shrunk by nearly 100 acres! The last fill deposited in Green Lake was from the excavation of Aurora Avenue.

In more recent times, Green Lake has suffered from stagnation and pollution problems, as well as algae blooms. Milfoil and swimmers itch (caused by parasites from waterfowl) are still a consideration for those who swim in the lake.

Tips: From I-5 (north or south)

take exit #169, 45th/50th Street exits
turn West
Stay on 50th to Stone Way/Green Lake Way.
Turn right and go 1/4 mile
veer left onto W. Green Lake Way N
There is ample free parking available.

Points of Interest


Green Lake Park

Beautiful views from all around the lake, with a nicely paved path. There are two lanes on the path, the left for walkers, the right for bikers/Rollerblades, ect. If you are slow STAY OUT OF THE RIGHT LANE.

Duck Island

Within the lake is an artificial island that is commonly called Duck Island but was originally named Swan Island. It was built by the Works Progress Administration in 1936. The island was built (with dumped gravel) as a wildlife sanctuary and later housed some swan gifted to the city by Vancouver, British Columbia. The park board named the island Waldo's Wildlife Sanctuary, after Waldo J Dahl, who took care of the swan. The swans, which were intended to start a small flock, did not have proper breeding habitat around the island. Future attempts to breed swans on the island (at least until the 1970s) were also failures. The state game commission officially made the island a reserve, off limits to people, in 1956. That designated ended in 1983. Though not noted as supporting any unique wildlife, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife notes the island is part of a bald eagle management buffer encompassing the south end of the lake. The parks department still considers the island off-limits to people, for safety reasons, but the occasional presence of rope swings and empty alcohol containers indicates this trespassing misdemeanor is ignored

Green Lake Small Craft Center

Classes & Programs are available on the website linked in this guide. THEY DO NOT RENT OUT BOATS.

Annually, the Rowing Advisory Council (RAC) hosts three major rowing regattas on Green Lake.

The Frostbite Regatta in November, the Green Lake Spring Regatta in April and the Summer Rowing Extravaganza in August draw competitors from throughout the Northwest

The youth rowing program was organized by a group of community leaders and neighborhood supporters in 1947, with the first crew beginning rowing in the summer of 1948. The original Conroy boathouse was located along the Eastern shoreline of Green Lake near Evans Pool. This remained the site of the Green Lake Crew program until the "new" Massart Shellhouse was built by the Aqua Theater contractor without cost to the City when that structure was being constructed in 1950. Guided by the Seattle Junior Crew Rowing Commission, the crew received equipment, and travel and operational support. By the mid-1950s, Seattle Parks and Recreation involvement had increased and the program was able to grow and develop continuity between seasons. In the Seattle earthquake of 1965, the shellhouse received extensive damage. Rather than just conduct repairs, the Department expanded the boathouse to accommodate additional shell storage and improve the launching areas.

Canoeing and sailing came to the lake in the late 1960s with the introduction of two public clubs, the Seattle Canoe Club and the Seattle Sailing Association. Both of these groups allowed for the expansion of small craft program opportunities without impacting the Department budget . . . a strong group of volunteers worked closely with Department staff, forming a successful partnership for nearly 20 years.

The 1968 Forward Thrust Bond Issue allowed for the construction of a new small craft center to accommodate rowing, sailing, and canoeing on Green Lake. This facility was completed in 1980 and included the remodeling of the Massart Shellhouse, the partial demolition of the Aqua Theater, and the addition of a building to house sailing and canoeing. The Green Lake Small Craft Center was dedicated on September 27, 1980.

Adult rowing was first offered to the public in the fall of 1984 and has since grown to be a large and stable portion of the program.

Green Lake Aqua Theater

The Green Lake Aqua Theater was an outdoor theater located at Green Lake in Seattle, Washington.

The Aqua Theater was built in 1950 for the first Seafair Summer Festival in order to house an attraction called the Aqua Follies and their "swimusicals" - a combination of aqua ballet, stage dancing, and comedy. The first ever performance at the venue was on August 11, 1950.

The theater's stage was round, and the orchestra pit nearby was recessed and floating. The theater had high diving platforms near the stage. Its grandstand was fan-shaped and built to a capacity of 5,600 seats.The venue also featured a "moat".

The Aqua Follies continued to run during Seafair until 1965. Outside of the Seafair schedule the theater was the stage for plays and musicals whose directors always took advantage of the unique setting.

View of water where stage once floated
In the summer of 1962, coinciding with the Century 21 Exposition, the Aqua Theater stage was host to a jazz festival, popular performers such as Bob Hope, two plays, and a special presentation of the Aqua Follies with 100 performers.

After the World's Fair, summer productions languished (usually blamed on Seattle's unpredictable weather) until the Aqua Theater was mostly abandoned—during a 1969 concert by the Grateful Dead the grandstand was found to be unsafe because of poor maintenance.

Beginning in 1970 the theater was dismantled and re-purposed. The area to the right stage offers a pedestrian pier over the lake. To the left of the stage, crew shells are stored. A small craft center was put into the place formerly held by most of the grandstand. Some sections of the grandstand were left in place

Green Lake Boat Rentals

The Boat House is open daily from 11am to dusk, April to Sept, weather permitting. In Sept. weekends only. The Cafe is also open year round on weekends and major holidays.Hourly RatesKayak, Canoe, Pedal & Row Boats: $15/hr

Stand Up Paddle Boards: $15/hr

Sailboats: $20/hr

Wading Pools

The wading pool is located on the north end of Green Lake at the intersection of Wallingford Ave N and East Green Lake Drive North. Green Lake is one of the more popular wading pools in the Seattle area. With sunshine all day and into the evening, you can have hours of warm summer fun.

June 26 - September 6, 2010
Daily 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Pictures in this guide taken by: wchall, lubalexia, norwesterider, JMilesMiller, bmyers2

Green Lake Park Trail Map

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I've always liked the outdoors, but have been into hiking trails heavily since 2009. Everytrail really...

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