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A voyage of discovery



Not long ago I hiked to the Ballard Locks, and looking at the maps in the visitors center I saw that if you crossed the Ship Canal via the locks you'd be within striking distance of Discovery Park. I thought it'd be fun to do that and then try to find my way back to Fremont on that side of the canal. holyoutlaw pointed me to the newly extended Ship Canal Trail, which looked like it might do the trick.

So yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day, and I headed out for a hike. I seem to recall that it's 3.5 miles from Fremont to the locks. I crossed over the canal and pretty quickly realized I had no idea how to get to Discovery Park from there. So I asked someone, and she confirmed that it was pretty close and pointed the way. It was up hill, and once I got to the park, I realized I had no idea where anything was in the park. It's an enormous park, and I really needed a map. My only thought was to try to find the beach, but which way was it? Well, hell, I decided to climb up the ridge to see what I could see from up there. After a fair climb, I found a sign that said beach thattaway .25 miles. I followed that path for a while, and then I realized that to get to the beach I'd have to climb all the way down to sea level and then climb all the way back up to get out of there.

I was very conscious that even just the seven miles round trip to the locks was going to be tiring. I figured I was already adding another three miles round trip to the park. Another steep climb on top of that didn't seem like such a bright idea. So I headed back down hill via another path and spotted the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center. I'd been there on my one other visit to Discovery Park, so I cruised by and found a view point looking out on the Puget Sound. Thus the picture above. I had seen the water, so mission accomplished, more or less.

The other thing I discovered is that you apparently aren't supposed to walk to Discovery Park. At least the entrance I came to had no sidewalks on any of the approaching roads. So I went back the way I'd come, down the hill to the locks. (Beautiful view houses in that neighborhood, looking out over Shilshole Bay.) I wasn't sure exactly where the Ship Canal Trail started, although I had a vague recollection it was Fisherman's Terminal, wherever that was. So I walked along a road that ran parallel to Salmon Bay, which is where the fishing fleet moors. This was a light industrial area that also didn't have much in the way of sidewalks. I made my way via parking lots and margins until I got to Fisherman's Terminal, which turns out to have a few stores and the Bay Cafe and the Highliner Pub and Grill. Looked like it might be a fun place to hang around for a bit another time.

It took a bit of searching, but I eventually found the trail. This snakes through more light industrial terrain, under concrete overpasses and the Ballard Bridge, and even crosses a train track at one point. A fascinating view of the backside of a working waterfront. Eventually I reached the part that runs along the Fremont Cut along the opposite shore from my home ground. I crossed over on the Fremont Bridge and made my way to the Pacific Inn for a reuben sandwich and a bit of football.

My conclusion is that going all the way to Discovery Park may be a bit of a stretch. Just walking to the locks and back along the other side is probably a good enough hike -- similar to the Cheshiahud Loop in length. But we'll see. I'd still like to walk to Golden Gardens at some point, and I think that's six miles, so a return trip would be twelve. Or I could take the bus back. The exploration continues.

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