If the sun appears in Seattle mid-winter, where does one go for a walk to take in the gardens and views? One of my favorite walks in Seattle is a loop around the top of Queen Anne Hill which provides vistas of Mt Rainer, the Olympic Mountains, and a bakery stop at the halfway point of this level 4.4-mile walk. Here is a link to a map of the loop:
I revisited this walk during a rare two-week dry spell in January, starting at the south leg along West Highline Drive. Kerry Park affords stunning views of the city and Mt Rainier.
Continuing east from the park are lovely homes and gardens. One featured a witch hazel (hamamelis x intermedia) in full bloom right next to the sidewalk. The scent of the flowers – something between rose and orange blossom – is intoxicating. I lingered and sniffed as long as I thought proper, but had to overcome the urge to grab passersby and exclaim, ‘You should SMELL this!”
This entire walk is graced with tree-lined streets. Along Bigelow Avenue there are huge, old, chestnut trees (Castanea species) lining both sides of the street for a couple of blocks.
Sadly, they must be succumbing to chestnut blight, because several enormous stumps were in evidence. I can remember seeing families gathering the chestnuts by the bagful when I did the walk in the fall.
Further along, happier tidings came in the form of the first crocus of the year.
At the approximate mid-point of the walk, at 3rd Avenue W. and McGraw, I detoured from the official route, heading west on McGraw for two blocks to the incomparable Macrina Bakery.
I felt like a child at the cases, lingering long because it is so hard to decide on just one delectable baked good (apricot scones or cinnamon rolly polly?). They have classy lunch fare and espresso as well. If you are walking on a week-end, the gallery next door is also worth visiting for its original, northwest art.
I continued north from the bakery, soon coming across a near-blooming clump of Helleborus foetidus (stinking hellebore) in someone’s front yard.
The fine, tapering foliage is handsome all year in shade. The flowers are chartreuse, and don’t have a bad smell, as the name would suggest.
Coming along the home stretch on 8th Avenue West, the Olympic Range is in full view, as are the lovely globe street lights and moss-covered walls. There are stairs to explore just below these walls. After one long block along some formidable mansions you return to Kerry Park.
This historic loop trail, named Queen Anne Boulevard, is a truly unique and magical place in Seattle that excites me as much as the first time I discovered it, thirty years ago.