Walking the Aurora Bridge, a new city park, and a great urban walk

Some weeks, it gets harder and harder to find a good hike for my weekly walking group. That’s especially true in the winter, when we do urban (urbane) walks. We try to find novelty, challenge, interesting scenery, and a good place to have lunch, all within a four to five mile itinerary which has good parking at the beginning and restrooms mid-way. We  have walked in almost every neighborhood in Seattle, visited many city parks, and walked  across all the major bridges. I didn’t have a lot of hope for something special last week, but to my surprise we found a park we had never even heard of (novelty), we walked across the George Washington Bridge, also known as the Aurora Bridge (more novelty, challenge, and interesting scenery), and we had a good lunch at Eltana bagels (new to many of us).

It started with lunch. I noticed that Eltana Wood-fired Bagels had opened a bakery on Stone Way N near 39th. I called (206 420 1293) to be sure they offered more than just bagels for lunch. Then I studied a map of the city–where can we walk four or five miles that could include Eltana?

We had walked the Aurora Bridge once before, from Fremont, north to south on the west side of the bridge. The little group I was walking with then were all women, the fast walkers who never stop to look at anything. I should have been with the slower group, the men following after us, who took their time to look out and down over the ship canal. This week, I decided, we would walk south to north on the east side of the bridge, and I would take time to admire the scenery.

So I created a plan. We left our cars at Gas Works Park, walking west. We crossed the Fremont Bridge and made our way to Westlake, dropping down to walk close to the water, the boat businesses, the house boats. Along the way, we paused to read the historic comments and checked out the houseboat of someone we knew (she wasn’t home). At Galer Street, we took the overpass to a large terrace outside an office building. The doors to the building were unlocked, so we went inside to visit the rest rooms, diagonally across the lobby. (I planned this stop–I knew about those rest rooms from past experience.) Back outside, we climbed more stairs to Dexter Avenue and started walking north. We planned to walk up 6th Avenue N, a diagonal street that runs from Dexter to Aurora Avenue; however, when we reached the intersection where 6th N runs into Dexter, we had a nice surprise!

The gravel pit that used to occupy the slope below Aurora is now an attractive open space, the Thomas C. Wales Memorial Park. We walked around the park, admiring the sculptural structures of rocks wrapped in steel baskets, and then proceeded up to Aurora Avenue and the George Washington Bridge. It was a beautiful day, sunny with hardly any wind. From the bridge we could look down on the house boats we had just seen from the road, the ships in the canal just below us, and the buildings and boats on the north shore. A special treat–out in the middle of Lake Union, a fire boat was spraying fountains of water in every direction.

Once off the bridge, we called Eltana to ask them to reserve six seats together and we proceeded to the bagel shop. A very simple but good lunch, and then we were back to our cars at Gas Works Park. Novelty, challenge, interesting scenery, and a good lunch. Great urban hike!

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