Discovery Park Loop Trail In Washington

Here is everything you need to know about the Discovery Park Loop Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Washington
  • Length: 2.8 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: Seattle Parks and Recreation
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

The Discovery Park Loop Trail, located in Seattle, Washington, holds a significant historical background. The trail is situated within Discovery Park, which was once the site of Fort Lawton, a U.S. Army post established in 1898. Fort Lawton played a crucial role in the defense of the Puget Sound region during World War II and the Korean War. The park itself was named after Captain George Vancouver’s ship, the HMS Discovery, which explored the Puget Sound in 1792.

The construction of the Discovery Park Loop Trail began in the early 1970s as part of a larger effort to transform the former military base into a public park. The trail was designed to showcase the park’s natural beauty while also highlighting its historical significance. As visitors walk along the trail, they can observe remnants of the fort, including some of the original buildings and gun batteries that once protected the area.

Over the years, the Discovery Park Loop Trail has become a popular destination for both locals and tourists seeking to immerse themselves in the area’s rich history. The trail offers stunning views of the Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and the Seattle skyline, providing a picturesque backdrop to the historical landmarks. Whether it’s exploring the old military structures or simply enjoying a peaceful walk through the park, the Discovery Park Loop Trail offers a unique opportunity to connect with the past and appreciate the natural beauty of the present.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Discovery Park Visitor Center: This is the main access point for the Discovery Park Loop Trail. It provides information about the park and trail, as well as parking facilities.

2. South Parking Lot: Located near the Visitor Center, this parking lot offers easy access to the Loop Trail.

3. North Parking Lot: Situated at the northern end of the park, this parking lot is another access point for the Loop Trail.

4. West Point Lighthouse: The Loop Trail passes by the historic West Point Lighthouse, providing a scenic starting or stopping point.

5. South Beach: This beach area is accessible from the Loop Trail and offers beautiful views of the Puget Sound.

6. North Beach: Another beach area along the Loop Trail, North Beach provides a different perspective of the water and surrounding landscape.

7. Meadow Trailhead: Located near the center of the park, this trailhead offers access to the Loop Trail through the meadow area.

8. South Bluff Trailhead: Situated on the southern edge of the park, this trailhead provides access to the Loop Trail along the bluff area.

9. North Bluff Trailhead: Located on the northern edge of the park, this trailhead offers access to the Loop Trail along the bluff area.

10. South Parking Lot Trailhead: This trailhead is located near the South Parking Lot and provides access to the Loop Trail from the southern side of the park.

11. North Parking Lot Trailhead: Situated near the North Parking Lot, this trailhead offers access to the Loop Trail from the northern side of the park.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Discovery Park Loop Trail. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads within the park as well.

Transportation Available

1. Uber – On-demand ridesharing service.
2. Lyft – Ride-hailing service available in the area.
3. Lime – Electric scooter and bike rentals.
4. Bird – Electric scooter rentals.
5. LimeBike – Bike rentals with a pay-as-you-go system.
6. JUMP – Electric bike rentals.
7. Zipcar – Car-sharing service with hourly or daily rentals.
8. Car2Go – Car-sharing service with flexible rentals.
9. ReachNow – Car-sharing service with BMW and MINI vehicles.
10. LimePod – Car-sharing service with compact electric vehicles.


The amenities available at the Discovery Park Loop Trail may include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various locations within the park, including near the trailhead or visitor center.

2. Parking: Discovery Park offers parking areas for visitors, including designated parking lots or street parking near the trailhead.

3. Camping Sites: While camping is not allowed within Discovery Park itself, there are nearby campgrounds or RV parks where visitors can stay overnight.

4. Picnic Areas: Discovery Park features several picnic areas with tables and benches, providing a scenic spot for visitors to enjoy a meal or snack.

5. Visitor Center: The park may have a visitor center or information center where visitors can obtain maps, brochures, and learn more about the trail and park.

6. Trails and Pathways: The Discovery Park Loop Trail itself is a major amenity, offering a well-maintained pathway for walking, jogging, or biking.

7. Nature Interpretive Signs: Along the trail, there may be informative signs or displays that provide educational information about the park’s flora, fauna, and history.

8. Scenic Overlooks: The trail may have designated viewpoints or overlooks that offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, such as the Puget Sound or the Olympic Mountains.

9. Dog-Friendly Areas: Discovery Park may have designated areas where dogs are allowed, either on or off-leash, providing a pet-friendly environment for visitors.

10. Accessibility: The park may have accessible amenities, such as wheelchair-accessible restrooms, parking spaces, or portions of the trail to accommodate individuals with disabilities.

Please note that the availability of these amenities may vary, and it is always recommended to check with the park authorities or visitor center for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center – Provides lodging and educational programs for visitors.
2. Discovery Park Beach House – Offers lodging with stunning beach views.
3. Discovery Park Picnic Shelter – Provides a covered area for picnics and outdoor gatherings.
4. Discovery Park Visitor Center – Offers information and resources for visitors.
5. Discovery Park Restrooms – Public restrooms available for trail users.
6. Discovery Park Emergency Services – Emergency services available for any unforeseen incidents.
7. Discovery Park Food Truck – Offers a variety of food options for hungry visitors.
8. Discovery Park Water Fountain – Provides a water source for trail users.
9. Discovery Park Parking Lot – Parking area for visitors accessing the trail.
10. Discovery Park Trailhead – Starting point for the Discovery Park Loop Trail.

Discovery Park Loop Trail Difficulty Notes

The Discovery Park Loop Trail offers a moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for individuals of various fitness levels. The trail spans approximately 2.8 miles and features some inclines and uneven terrain, which may pose a challenge for beginners or those with mobility issues. However, the trail is well-maintained and offers stunning views of the Puget Sound, making it a worthwhile endeavor. With proper footwear and preparation, hikers can enjoy a rewarding experience on the Discovery Park Loop Trail.

Features And Attractions

The Discovery Park Loop Trail in Seattle, Washington offers a variety of scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable attractions along the trail:

1. West Point Lighthouse: Located at the westernmost point of the park, this historic lighthouse offers stunning views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

2. South Beach: This sandy beach provides panoramic views of the Sound, with the Seattle skyline in the distance. It’s a great spot for picnicking and beachcombing.

3. North Beach: Another beautiful beach area with driftwood, tide pools, and views of the Olympic Mountains. It’s a popular spot for birdwatching and enjoying the sunset.

4. West Point Bluff: This scenic overlook offers breathtaking views of the Sound, the lighthouse, and the surrounding natural beauty. It’s a great spot for photography.

5. Daybreak Star Cultural Center: Located within the park, this Native American cultural center showcases art, history, and events related to the indigenous peoples of the region.

6. Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center: This educational facility provides information about the park’s ecosystems, wildlife, and conservation efforts. It’s a great place to learn about the natural history of the area.

7. Magnolia Bluff: This viewpoint offers sweeping views of the Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and the city skyline. It’s a popular spot for hiking and enjoying the scenery.

8. Meadow Trail: This trail takes you through open meadows and offers views of the surrounding forested areas. It’s a great place for birdwatching and enjoying wildflowers.

9. Loop Trail Forest: The trail passes through a dense forested area, providing a peaceful and serene atmosphere. It’s a great place for nature walks and wildlife spotting.

10. Historic Fort Lawton: This former military installation is now part of the park and offers a glimpse into Seattle’s military history. You can explore the preserved buildings and learn about the fort’s role in various conflicts.

These are just a few of the many attractions along the Discovery Park Loop Trail. The trail offers a diverse range of experiences, from stunning views to historical sites and natural beauty.

Usage Guidelines

1. Dogs must be on a leash at all times.
2. Clean up after your pets and dispose of waste properly.
3. Bicycles and skateboards are allowed on designated trails only.
4. Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
5. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail.
6. Camping or overnight stays are not permitted.
7. Fires and barbecues are prohibited.
8. Respect seasonal restrictions, such as closures during bird nesting season.
9. Do not disturb or harm wildlife or plants.
10. Pack out all trash and leave no trace.
11. Alcohol and smoking are not allowed on the trail.
12. Follow all posted signs and instructions from park staff.
13. Use caution and be aware of your surroundings, especially during inclement weather.
14. Be considerate of other trail users and yield to pedestrians.
15. Enjoy the trail responsibly and leave it as you found it.

Seasonal Information

The Discovery Park Loop Trail, located in Seattle, Washington, offers visitors a stunning natural escape within the city limits. With its diverse landscapes, breathtaking views, and abundant wildlife, the trail is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year. However, there are certain times of the year that are considered the best for visiting, as well as seasonal closures to be aware of.

One of the best times to visit the Discovery Park Loop Trail is during the spring season, particularly in April and May. During this time, the park comes alive with vibrant wildflowers, including colorful rhododendrons and cherry blossoms. The weather is generally mild, making it perfect for hiking and exploring the trail. Additionally, springtime brings migratory birds to the park, offering birdwatchers a fantastic opportunity to spot a variety of species.

Another ideal time to visit is during the summer months, from June to August. The trail is surrounded by lush greenery, and the weather is typically warm and sunny. This is a great time to enjoy picnics, beach walks, and stunning views of the Puget Sound. The longer daylight hours also allow for extended exploration of the park.

It is important to note that the Discovery Park Loop Trail has seasonal closures in place to protect wildlife and preserve the natural environment. From October 1st to January 31st, the West Point Lighthouse and adjacent beach are closed to the public to provide a sanctuary for harbor seals during their pupping season. Visitors can still access other parts of the trail during this time, but it is essential to respect the closures and wildlife protection measures in place.

In conclusion, the best times to visit the Discovery Park Loop Trail are during the spring and summer seasons when the park is bursting with vibrant colors and pleasant weather. However, it is crucial to be aware of the seasonal closures, such as the West Point Lighthouse and beach closure from October to January, to ensure the preservation of the park’s wildlife and natural beauty.


1. Paved Pathways: The Discovery Park Loop Trail features paved pathways that are wheelchair accessible, allowing for easy navigation throughout the park.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the trail entrance, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Restrooms: Accessible restrooms equipped with grab bars and other ADA-compliant features are located along the trail for the convenience of all visitors.
4. Picnic Areas: ADA-accessible picnic areas are available along the trail, providing a comfortable space for individuals with disabilities to enjoy outdoor meals.
5. Benches and Seating: Wheelchair-accessible benches and seating areas are strategically placed along the trail, allowing visitors to rest and take in the scenic views.
6. Interpretive Signage: The trail features ADA-compliant interpretive signage, providing information about the park’s history, flora, and fauna in a format accessible to all.
7. Assistance Animals: Service animals are welcome on the Discovery Park Loop Trail, ensuring individuals with disabilities have the necessary support during their visit.
8. Accessible Viewing Areas: The trail offers designated accessible viewing areas, allowing everyone to enjoy the stunning vistas and wildlife without barriers.
9. Wayfinding and Signage: Clear and visible wayfinding signage is provided along the trail, ensuring individuals with disabilities can easily navigate and find their way.
10. Accessibility Information: The park provides comprehensive accessibility information, including trail maps and guides, to assist visitors in planning their accessible journey through the Discovery Park Loop Trail.

Safety Information

1. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked paths to avoid getting lost or damaging the park’s delicate ecosystem.
2. Carry a map and compass: Be prepared with navigation tools in case you need to find your way back or communicate your location in an emergency.
3. Dress appropriately: Wear sturdy shoes, dress in layers, and bring rain gear as weather conditions can change quickly.
4. Stay hydrated: Carry enough water to stay hydrated throughout your hike, especially during hot weather.
5. Use sunscreen and insect repellent: Protect yourself from harmful UV rays and pesky bugs while enjoying the outdoors.
6. Be aware of wildlife: Respect the park’s wildlife by observing from a safe distance and not feeding or approaching them.
7. Watch for poison ivy and other hazards: Familiarize yourself with common plants and potential hazards to avoid any allergic reactions or injuries.
8. Be cautious near cliffs and steep slopes: Stay away from the edges and be mindful of loose rocks or unstable terrain.
9. Share the trail: Yield to other hikers, runners, or cyclists, and be courteous to maintain a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
10. Carry a first aid kit: Have basic medical supplies on hand to address minor injuries or emergencies until help arrives.
11. Inform someone of your plans: Let a friend or family member know your intended route and estimated return time for safety purposes.
12. Stay updated on weather conditions: Check the forecast before heading out and be prepared for changes in weather during your hike.
13. Avoid hiking alone: Whenever possible, hike with a companion to enhance safety and provide assistance if needed.
14. Respect park rules and regulations: Follow all posted signs and guidelines to ensure the preservation of the park and the safety of all visitors.

Conservation Notes

The Discovery Park Loop Trail, located in Seattle, Washington, is a significant natural area that plays a crucial role in the conservation of local biodiversity. As a designated conservation area, the trail is managed with the primary objective of preserving and protecting the unique ecosystems and wildlife found within its boundaries. The conservation status of the Discovery Park Loop Trail is of utmost importance, as it serves as a habitat for numerous plant and animal species, some of which are rare or endangered.

The trail encompasses a diverse range of habitats, including forests, meadows, wetlands, and shoreline areas. These habitats support a rich array of flora and fauna, contributing to the overall ecological health of the region. The conservation efforts focus on maintaining the integrity of these habitats by minimizing human impact and promoting sustainable practices. This includes strict regulations on activities such as camping, hunting, and off-trail exploration to prevent disturbance to sensitive species and their habitats.

Conservation initiatives also involve regular monitoring and research to assess the health of the ecosystems and identify any potential threats or invasive species that may disrupt the natural balance. Restoration projects are implemented to enhance the habitat quality and promote the recovery of native species. Additionally, educational programs and outreach efforts are conducted to raise awareness among visitors about the importance of conservation and the role they can play in preserving the natural heritage of the Discovery Park Loop Trail. Overall, the conservation status of the trail ensures the long-term protection and sustainability of this valuable natural resource.

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