Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail In Washington

Here is everything you need to know about the Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Washington
  • Length: 0.3 miles.
  • Type: Water trail.
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: Info not available.

The Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail holds a significant place in the history of Seattle, Washington. The trail is located along the Montlake Cut, a man-made waterway that connects Lake Washington to Lake Union. The construction of the Montlake Cut was a monumental engineering feat that took place in the early 20th century.

The idea for the Montlake Cut originated from the need to improve navigation between the two lakes. Prior to its construction, boats had to navigate through the winding and shallow Union Bay, which posed significant challenges for transportation and commerce. In 1909, the Washington State Legislature authorized the creation of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, which included the Montlake Cut as a crucial component.

Construction of the Montlake Cut began in 1911 and involved the excavation of millions of cubic yards of earth. The project required the removal of a hill that separated the two lakes, resulting in the creation of a 2,500-foot-long and 350-foot-wide waterway. The excavation work was carried out by a combination of steam shovels, horse-drawn carts, and manual labor.

The completion of the Montlake Cut in 1916 revolutionized transportation in the region. It provided a direct and efficient route for boats to travel between Lake Washington and Lake Union, significantly reducing travel time and costs. The Montlake Cut also played a crucial role in the development of the surrounding areas, as it facilitated the growth of industries such as shipbuilding and logging.

Today, the Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail serves as a popular recreational area for locals and visitors alike. It offers stunning views of the waterway, as well as opportunities for walking, jogging, and cycling. The trail is not only a testament to the engineering prowess of its time but also a reminder of the historical significance of the Montlake Cut in shaping the growth and development of Seattle.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Montlake Playfield: Located at the southern end of the Montlake Cut, this park offers access to the trailhead of the Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail.

2. Montlake Boulevard East: This major road runs parallel to the Montlake Cut and provides access to the trail at various points along its route.

3. University of Washington: The campus of the University of Washington is located near the Montlake Cut and offers several access points to the trail, including the Husky Stadium area.

4. Union Bay Natural Area: Situated on the eastern side of the Montlake Cut, this nature reserve provides access to the trail and offers beautiful views of the surrounding wetlands.

5. Foster Island: Located in the middle of the Montlake Cut, Foster Island is accessible from both sides of the water and provides a convenient access point to the trail.

6. East Montlake Park: Situated on the eastern shore of the Montlake Cut, this park offers a trailhead and parking facilities for visitors to access the Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail.

7. Washington Park Arboretum: This expansive botanical garden and park is located near the northern end of the Montlake Cut and provides access to the trail through its various walking paths.

8. Portage Bay Park: Situated on the western side of the Montlake Cut, this park offers a trailhead and parking facilities for visitors to access the Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail.

9. Lake Washington Boulevard: This scenic road runs along the western shore of the Montlake Cut and provides access to the trail at multiple points along its route.

10. Montlake Community Center: Located near the southern end of the Montlake Cut, this community center offers a trailhead and parking facilities for visitors to access the Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail.

Transportation Available

1. Metro Bus – Public bus service with multiple routes connecting various neighborhoods and destinations.
2. Light Rail – Fast and efficient train service connecting different parts of the city.
3. Ride-Sharing (Uber/Lyft) – On-demand car service with drivers available for convenient transportation.
4. Taxi – Traditional taxi service providing transportation on request.
5. Bike Share – Shared bicycles available for short-term rental, ideal for exploring the area.
6. Car Rental – Various car rental agencies offering vehicles for personal use.
7. Water Taxi – Passenger ferry service operating on Lake Union and Lake Washington, providing scenic transportation options.
8. Lime Scooter – Electric scooters available for rent, offering a fun and eco-friendly way to get around.
9. Zipcar – Car-sharing service allowing members to rent vehicles by the hour or day.
10. Walking – The Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail is easily accessible by foot, providing a pleasant walking experience.


The amenities available at the Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail may include:

1. Restrooms: Public restroom facilities may be available along the trail for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: There may be designated parking areas or parking lots nearby where visitors can park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: Depending on the specific regulations and policies of the trail, camping sites may be available for overnight stays. However, it is advisable to check with the local authorities or trail management for any restrictions or permits required.

4. Picnic Areas: There might be designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can enjoy outdoor meals and gatherings.

5. Benches and Seating: Throughout the trail, there may be benches or seating areas for visitors to rest and enjoy the scenic views.

6. Interpretive Signage: Informational signs or interpretive panels may be placed along the trail, providing educational content about the area’s history, wildlife, or natural features.

7. Trash Receptacles: To maintain cleanliness, trash receptacles may be available along the trail for visitors to dispose of their waste properly.

8. Water Fountains: Drinking water fountains may be installed at certain points along the trail to provide hydration for visitors.

9. Bike Racks: For cyclists, bike racks may be available to securely park their bicycles while exploring the trail.

10. Dog-Friendly Areas: Depending on the trail’s regulations, there may be designated areas where visitors can walk their dogs. It is essential to follow any leash laws or pet policies in place.

Please note that the availability of these amenities may vary, and it is recommended to check with the local authorities or trail management for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Montlake Cut Bed and Breakfast – Cozy lodging option near the trail.
2. Montlake Market – Convenient food services offering a variety of snacks and essentials.
3. Montlake Emergency Clinic – Nearby emergency medical services for any urgent healthcare needs.

Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail Difficulty Notes

The Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The trail spans approximately 2.5 miles and provides a scenic route along the Montlake Cut, connecting Lake Washington and Lake Union in Seattle. While the trail is mostly flat and well-maintained, there are some sections with slight inclines and uneven terrain. Hikers can expect to encounter a mix of paved paths, gravel trails, and wooden boardwalks, adding to the challenge. Additionally, the trail can get crowded, especially during peak times, which may require navigating through other walkers, joggers, and cyclists. Overall, the Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail offers a pleasant and manageable hiking experience suitable for individuals of various fitness levels.

Features And Attractions

Info not available.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Clean up after your pets and dispose of waste properly.
– Bicycles and other wheeled vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
– No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail.
– Fishing is allowed in designated areas only and requires a valid fishing license.
– Swimming or wading in the water is not permitted.
– Camping or overnight stays are not allowed on the trail.
– Fires or open flames are prohibited.
– Littering is strictly prohibited; please use designated trash bins.
– Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed them.
– Stay on designated trails and do not trespass onto private property.
– Follow all posted signs and regulations.
– The trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions, so check for any updates or notices before visiting.

Seasonal Information

The Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail is a picturesque trail located in Seattle, Washington, offering stunning views of the Montlake Cut and the surrounding natural beauty. While the trail is open year-round, there are certain times of the year that are particularly ideal for visiting.

One of the best times to visit the Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail is during the spring season, from April to June. During this time, the trail is adorned with vibrant blossoms and lush greenery, creating a picturesque and serene atmosphere. The weather is generally mild and pleasant, making it perfect for leisurely walks or bike rides along the trail. Additionally, springtime brings an array of bird species to the area, making it a great opportunity for birdwatching enthusiasts.

Another great time to visit the trail is in the fall, from September to November. The foliage along the trail transforms into a stunning display of autumn colors, ranging from vibrant reds to golden yellows. The crisp air and cooler temperatures make it an enjoyable time for outdoor activities. Fall also brings migratory birds to the area, providing birdwatchers with another opportunity to spot unique species.

It’s important to note that the Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail does not have any seasonal closures. It remains accessible throughout the year, allowing visitors to enjoy its beauty in every season. However, it’s always a good idea to check for any temporary closures or maintenance work that may be taking place before planning your visit. Overall, the trail offers a delightful experience regardless of the time of year, with each season bringing its own unique charm to the Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Pathways: The Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail features paved pathways that are wide and smooth, allowing easy wheelchair access throughout the trail.
2. Accessible Restrooms: ADA-compliant restrooms are available along the trail, ensuring wheelchair users have convenient facilities.
3. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are provided near the trail entrance, allowing wheelchair users to park their vehicles with ease.
4. Accessible Seating Areas: The trail offers accessible seating areas at various points, providing resting spots for wheelchair users.
5. Braille Signage: Braille signage is installed along the trail, enabling visually impaired individuals to navigate and access information.
6. Accessible Picnic Areas: The trail includes accessible picnic areas equipped with tables and benches, allowing wheelchair users to enjoy outdoor meals.
7. Accessible Viewing Platforms: Elevated viewing platforms along the trail are designed to accommodate wheelchair users, providing scenic views of the Montlake Cut.
8. Accessible Water Fountains: ADA-compliant water fountains are available along the trail, ensuring wheelchair users have access to drinking water.
9. Accessible Fishing Spots: Designated fishing spots along the trail are accessible to wheelchair users, allowing them to enjoy fishing activities.
10. Accessible Interpretive Displays: Interpretive displays along the trail are designed to be accessible to individuals with disabilities, providing educational information in a user-friendly format.

Safety Information

1. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked paths to avoid getting lost or straying into unsafe areas.
2. Be aware of your surroundings: Stay alert and watch out for cyclists, joggers, and other trail users.
3. Use proper lighting: If walking or cycling during low-light conditions, ensure you have adequate lighting to enhance visibility.
4. Share the trail: Be courteous and share the trail with other users, yielding to faster-moving individuals.
5. Keep pets on a leash: Prevent your pets from wandering off or causing any disturbances to other trail users.
6. Stay hydrated: Carry enough water to stay hydrated, especially during hot weather or longer walks.
7. Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear for walking or cycling on the trail.
8. Carry a cell phone: Have a fully charged cell phone with you in case of emergencies or to report any safety concerns.
9. Be cautious of wildlife: Respect the natural habitat and keep a safe distance from any wildlife you may encounter.
10. Follow traffic rules: If crossing any roads or intersections, obey traffic signals and use designated crosswalks.
11. Be cautious of water activities: If engaging in water activities, such as kayaking or paddleboarding, ensure you have the necessary safety equipment and follow water safety guidelines.
12. Report any suspicious activity: If you notice any suspicious behavior or witness any incidents, report them to the appropriate authorities.
13. Stay on the trail during adverse weather: During heavy rain or storms, it is safer to avoid the trail to prevent accidents or falling debris.
14. Carry identification: Have your identification and emergency contact information with you in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
15. Respect trail closures: If any sections of the trail are closed for maintenance or repairs, respect the closures and find alternative routes.

Conservation Notes

The Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail is a significant natural resource that requires careful conservation efforts to maintain its ecological integrity. As of the latest assessment, the conservation status of the trail is considered to be stable. This means that the trail’s overall condition and the surrounding ecosystem are relatively healthy and not facing immediate threats or degradation.

Efforts have been made to protect and preserve the biodiversity along the Montlake Cut National Waterside Trail. The trail is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including several native and migratory bird species. Conservation measures have been implemented to ensure the protection of these habitats, such as the establishment of buffer zones and the removal of invasive species that could disrupt the natural balance.

Additionally, water quality monitoring is regularly conducted to assess the health of the aquatic ecosystem within the Montlake Cut. This helps to identify any potential pollution sources and take appropriate actions to mitigate their impact. The conservation status of the trail is closely monitored by local authorities and environmental organizations to ensure that any emerging threats are promptly addressed, thus maintaining the trail’s ecological value for future generations.

Leave a Comment