The other way up Capitol Hill

I recently used and shared my sole cargo bike route up Capitol Hill, mentioning I had better route for next time. Next time came today!

My usual method for finding routes is to start with the Google maps suggestion viewed in terrain-view, compare it to the appropriate Seattle Neighborhood Greenways maps to make adjustments, and if I need more help, ask locals via the Seattle Family Biking Facebook group, or locals and more via Twitter. But this new route I was lucky enough to get from Julie Salathe, Cascade Bicycle Club‘s Education Director, when we were emailing about the last CycloFemme and she realized I really don’t know my way around.

Read the details–this is not a route Google would give:

When you go over the Montlake Bridge on the West side, stay on the sidewalk. Then you can descend on a little path under 520 and down to the Montlake playfield before you cross the hwy ramps. When you leave the Montlake playfield and turn left on East Lynn, take one of the first rights into a driveway for the Greek Church, and then go up a little dirt path thru the trees on the left and you’ll come out in a little stub that leads to E Blaine. Go on E Blaine instead of Howe, then right on Howe (at the end of Blaine).

Then, once you’re on Highland, I usually take the first alley for a few blocks, since one block of 20th is one way. Then go one more block in alley after Aloha, then go back to 20th. Then you can go through the Miller community center sidewalk (by the soccerfields) and you come out on 21st. Cross Thomas, then go back over to 20th. Cross Madison at 20th in crosswalk.

It took me an hour (versus Google’s estimate of 42 minutes, though I never take that for truth on the mamabike) with a few small course corrections and picture stops.

Here’s the first exciting part–secret path (well, at least to me; not to the many bicyclists I saw down there) to Montlake Playfield right next to the freeway onramp.

Path to Montlake Playfield

It was beautiful and leafy down there, too. I’m a sucker for signage, for multi-use trails, and for nature tucked into urban spots.

Trail through Montlake Playfield

And check out these sharrows at the southeast corner of Montlake Playfield:

Sharrows into/out of Montlake Playfield

I misinterpreted the directions for the dirt path next to St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church and cut through the empty parking lot:

St. D's parking lot

but this is the cute little path I should have been on before the nice paved alley by the trees.

Single track next to St. D's

I didn’t like the block along 24th Avenue East and stuck to the sidewalk (four-lane road, uphill, with no sharrow or shoulder), but then I got to the car-free part of Interlaken Park:

Car-free route through Interlaken Park

It was beautiful! Check out the wall of ferns where I stopped to stick sweaters on the kids:

Ferny Interlaken

The car-free part of Interlaken was more-or-less flat, but once we got to Interlaken Drive–which we’ve taken several times in the downhill direction–it got a little less fun. The map says it was less than a mile and it wasn’t too steep, but it felt sooo long. I think I’ll need to ride this route a few more times to better appreciate it. I’m a subscriber to “the hill you know is less painful than the hill you don’t know” so I need to get better acquainted with this slope.

But after an uphill block of 19th (on which I followed a few tired-looking bikers–that made me feel a bit better!) we hopped over to three quiet blocks of flat alley. I didn’t see other bikes in here so I don’t know if it’s a common cut-through like the rest of this lovely route.

Alley alongside 20th

Here’s the path through Miller Park. There’s a play structure to the right, and apparently a splash park (though not open this late in the month) beyond that, by the community center.

Cutting through Miller Park

I didn’t see a bike loop detector for triggering the light at Madison, but fortunately one of my passengers was willing to hop off and push the walk button.

Crossing Madison

Then finally: Central Cinema for Cartoon Happy Hour! Apparently car traffic was horrendous this evening: one friend arrived an hour later than us (we were five minutes late), while another had to give up en route once she realized how long it would take. The friend who walked two blocks to the theater beat us all there.

Arrived at Central Cinema

I took the familiar route home, up 19th, through Interlaken Park to the northwest corner, then follow the bike dots to the University Bridge. A nice thing about the University Bridge is that it’s so high that it’s not a painful climb to 45th Street. Those four gradual blocks followed by a bit of downhill to get home are sometimes a lot nicer than the two steep blocks home if I take the direct route. Yeah, I have to negotiate my way through the U-District and cross over the freeway (I take the sidewalk), but leaving the Burke-Gilman Trail to cross Pacific and then 40th is no picnic, either.

The kids liked the route enough to fall asleep. Good night!

Sleeping passenger

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