Hike Through Seattle's Discovery Park For Stunning Sunset Views Over The Olympic Mountains

Boasting 545 acres of natural green space, Discovery Park is Seattle's largest city park (per Seattle.gov), and an ideal destination for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers. Set in the Magnolia neighborhood on the shores of Puget Sound, the expansive park is located about five miles north of downtown Seattle (per Seattle Times), and offers diverse terrain to satisfy both experienced and non-experienced hikers

Featuring 12 miles of paved and unpaved hiking trails, Discovery Park offers plenty to be discovered. From the historical West Point Lighthouse and the Native American cultural center to the park's lush forest groves, protected tidal beaches, inviting meadows, and sea cliffs, Discovery Park is a not-so-secret destination for hikers and Seattle residents looking for a respite from the big city bustle.

To really get the most from your visit to Discovery Park, try planning a hike on one of the coastal trails as the sun sets over Puget Sound. Seeing the sunset behind the Olympic Mountains is an awe-inspiring experience, showcasing the Pacific Northwest's far-reaching beauty. 

Loop Trail and coastal views

For first-time hikers of Discovery Park, the Loop Trail provides a great route and point of reference for other trails (per The Outbound). From the Visitor's Center, you can either hike the popular 3.5-mile Loop Trail completely, take an offshoot on one of the many paths that crisscross the main trail or expand your loop route. From there, you can add on the Lighthouse Trail to hike the Discovery Park Extended Loop Trail, which will expand your loop route to a scenic 4.3 miles with views of Puget Sound.

For something a little more strenuous, consider walking down to the beach once you reach the West Point Lighthouse, which is about two miles from the Visitor's Center and midway on the extended loop. According to Seattle Times, you can access the rocky beach by climbing down a steep 140-foot staircase. After cooling off in the water or taking in the scenery, you'll be ready to climb back up the bluff, which will surely get your heart rate up.

Pacific Northwest's native beauty

If you'd like to break up your hiking a bit, consider visiting Discovery Park's Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, located off the northern portion of the trail loop. Per Seattle Times, Discovery Park and the surrounding areas were home to the Indigenous Duwamish and other Coast Salish people. At the cultural center, you can view galleries and exhibits to learn more about the land's Indigenous history.

To highlight your day of exploring Discovery Park, try to schedule your hike to take in fantastic sunset views along the coastal trails found on and off the Extended Loop Trail. Some trails also offer awesome vantage points to see Mount Rainier and both the Cascade and Olympic Mountains.

Before the area was known as West Point, Indigenous peoples knew Discovery Park as PKa'dz Eltue, a name meaning "thrust far out" (per Seattle Times). If you catch the sunset overlooking Puget Sound, with the grandeur of the Olympic Mountains peaking into the western sky, the area's "far out" natural beauty seems infinite — a staple of discovering the Pacific Northwest.