Seattle Kayaking Arboretum University of Washington
Seattle urban kayaking can be had right in town in the Arboretum and University of Washington areas of Union Bay.
The advantages of this paddling site is that is centrally located for a few hour get away in the center of Seattle metro area.
The padding routes vary from open waters of Union Bay, swampy regions of the Arboretum on the south side of Union Bay and University of Washington on the north side.
The total time spent as probably only about 3 hours or less. The mileage I have no clue since Google maps isn't functioning.
Getting across the ship canal area to one or the other side can be a bit of challenge due to the boat traffic. If you don't believe me, check out the map provided. Look at the satellite view. See the tons of watercraft. Boats = waves. Boats = getting run over. Boats = ...
Someplace to the west of the ship canal there is kayak rental. I am not big on paddling through the ship canal, especially for beginners. Do this at your own risk. In some locations in the Vancouver British Columbia region there are serious restriction places one can kayak and the hours kayakers and boaters are allowed due to safety and other concerns.
The map shows some possible routes on both sides of Union Bay. On most any given day you will see plenty of canoers that have rented their canoes at the UW. Public is welcome to rent here as well. I suspect this might be a parking and launch site as well. Need to check that out. UW does not rent kayaks.
The samp like routes on both sides of the bay are enjoyable if you bring some hearing protection. 520 freeway that runs between Seattle and the eastside is right there in your face and ears. Less noise equals a more enjoyable time for someone like myself. Once upon a time I was at the so called nude beach a thousand years ago that was nearby in the Arboretum. On that day, the freeway was closed and it was heaven. No fossil fuel noise.
Also a thousand years ago I did an evening canoe adventure in the Arboretum and as chewed a alive by mosquitoes.
There are some challenges to kayaking in this area. Parking can be a bitch. The hauling the gear to the water and back. There is tons of waterfowl and feces everywhere. The banks are steep 3 or more foot drop offs into the filthy water. And to think I used to swim in that crap a thousand years ago. The are of Arboretum near the freeway is an old garbage dump from way back. Broken glass and ...
OK, once you make to the water and if you have something to cut the noise down the paddling here can be pleasant. I like the swamps on both the UW side and the Arboretum.
Crossing the ship canal area is not my cup of tea. Call me a wimp. I guess it is a good place to get used to boat traffic. The traffic is moving both east and west. You will be going either north or south or probably both. Have fun. Hope you know how to swim and do this when the water is warm and or are prepared for cold water immersion. I either wear a wetsuit or dry suit.
I have not yet gone east or west though the ship canal under the Montlake Bridge. I think that is nuts. If you go down and need out of the water there are walls on both sides waterway. If you don't have the skills to water exit and re-entry in the event of a capsize, you might be shit out of luck here. OK, call me Mr. Safety or Mr. Kill the fun.
I have had my share of hypothermia. I learned the hard way. On hot days the water can be COLD. If there is breeze and you climb out of the cold water and skinny like me, you might freeze. In the desert they have canteens they hang on the front of a vehicle. The canvas leaks and the evaporation makes the water COLD. Go jump in the water and stand in slight breeze with the wrong type of materials and test it for yourself. :)
So, if you can find someplace to park. Haul to the water. Clear a path through the waterfowl feces, enjoy fossil fuel noise, boat traffic and ... this might be the place for you. Not sure I will go back unless I check out a possibly launch at the UW canoe rental location.
I don't live in Seattle. I live in Snohomish County currently. I would drive down to do this paddle. I take the canoeyak, I call it with me when I have to go to the Big City and have time to kill. Then I might do this paddle or Greenlake, another NOISY place because of the fossil fuel roar on 99.
Bitch and moan? Yes and no. There are better places to paddle. I go for the MBS. Urban paddling has its pros and cons. I think I am more into the remote and the quiet.
NOTE: The map provided is from MyMaps at Google. The map may or may not function. MyMaps at Google does not work well. So, I could not put in the information that really needs to be entered on the map.
NOTE: The aerial photos linked here are from the Washington State Department of Ecology Coastal Atlas.
2006 Aerial Photographs. Odlin Park start of the paddling route described here.
Aerial view of Arboretum and the possible innies and outties launch sites. For the paddling described on this page, the launch was at the off ramp in the upper center. Parking was on the city street and hauling the gear in.
Other possible launches include the museum that is in the lower right where the swamp walk starts. See the foot bridge?
In the upper left there is an area with a little bit of parking that is fairly close to the water and all the yummy duck shit and a steep bank drop off into the water.
Click the Next Image links on either the right or left sides of the picture to follow the shoreline out to Lake Washington or through the Montlake Cut.
University of Washington side of the Montlake Cut. From here you can click on the right right Next Image links to see the possible paddling route east towards Laurelhurst and Lake Washington.
This is hardcore urban kayaking. Better hurry. This place is going to be ripped to shreds when the new freeway is built across Lake Washington.