An easy paddle to a unique and secluded area close to the center of Seattle.

Situated just southeast from the shores of the University of Washington, the Washington Arboretum Loop is a short yet gorgeous paddling excursion. What it lacks in length, it more than makes up for in its peaceful escape from the city and its beautiful path carved out through fields of lily pads. The loop, which goes around Foster Island at the north end of the Washington Park Arboretum, sits between Lake Union and Lake Washington.

If you are renting a kayak, the Aqua Verde Paddle Club is your closest proximity to the loop but it can be easily accessed from either of the two rental companies on Lake Union as well (you can also rent a canoe from the nearby Waterfront activities Center on the UW campus). Distance-wise, it’s a 3 mile, (1hr) round trip paddle from Aqua Verde and a 6 mile (2 hr) round trip paddle from the middle of Lake Union.

To get to the loop, you’ll cross in between Marsh and Foster Island. You’ll first go under a small pedestrian bridge between the two islands and than Hwy 520 until you get to the fields of lily pads. This is your destination. It’s a slow, peaceful ride so enjoy your surroundings, follow the lily pad lanes and take it all in.

Pack List

  • Kayak (or plan/place to rent one)
  • Life Jacket
  • Camera (water proof case suggested)
  • Snacks/Water
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Activities Kayaking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Scenic
Wildlife

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More Options To Rent

Just across the Montlake Cut from the arboretum is the University of Washington's Waterfront. They rent canoes, rowboats and kayaks. The main entrances between marsh and foster island are closed, but access to the inner waterways can be gained through the entrance on the east side of foster island. This route takes a bit to get to, so if renting it's more affordable to cut travel time down and rent at UW.

10/11/16

We were limited to the coast because the arboretum is closed for construction.

Beautiful. Call Before Putting In

Be sure to call one of the local rental places nearby beforehand. Access from the lake to the Arboretum is regularly closed due to construction on 520 bridge. You can still paddle around the arboretum if you put in south of the bridge. Fun and beautiful to paddle around once you get in and ignore the construction noises


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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