One of my favorite Wallingford excursions is taking the kids on the bike and going to Montlake Playfield. My route is almost all dedicated trail from my house and so I’m not too worried about the combination of cars and kids and bikes. My five-year old is hitched up to my bike on a Follow Me, and my two-year old rides on a co-pilot child seat.
Montlake Playfield is a hidden gem of a park. The climbing jungle gym is a step up from most parks. It’s high, and you’ll probably want to wait at the bottom of the slide rather than follow your kids up. When the kids are getting too old for Wallingford Playfield, they just might be ready for Montlake Playfield.
The bike ride is almost entirely on Burke Gilman Trail. The section of the trail near the Life Sciences building at the University of Washington has just now re-opened after many improvements. You’ll want to get off the trail as if you were going toward the light rail station; however, instead of taking the new pedestrian overpass over to Husky Stadium and the light rail, stay on the UW side and ride over to the intersection of Pacific and Montlake Blvd. You’ll then cross Pacific keeping on the south directional side of Montlake. If you stay on the sidewalk as I do, you’ll see a bicycle sign for Montlake Playfield just before the cars take the ramp to 520 East. It’s tucked in there and barely noticeable. The path is full of blackberry bushes and you really are super close the to the ramp.
I recommend returning from the trip via the same route; however, when I go for a run I often do a slightly modified route as a loop. I first cross University Bridge and run around Portage Bay until I end up crossing Montlake Bridge on the way back.
As a cyclist, I have found the drivers on the Portage Bay part nasty and impatient especially on Fuhrman and Boyer. This has occurred on solo trips as well as when I have the kids with me. My guess is that a lot of people use this route as a shortcut to Capitol Hill, and these entitled individuals don’t take too well to having their detour lengthened by a minute. But I digress.
The recommended route is in black and the modified loop option is in red. Bring a picnic, and enjoy your car-free excursion.