Seattle’s Green Lake

I was in Seattle for the Memorial Day weekend, visiting dear friends, attending a wedding. Every morning I enjoyed a three-mile walk around the lake. It is a pleasure to share Green Lake with you.

What a treat it is to have this sparkling emerald gem of nature in the middle of a bustling cosmopolitan city.

It is a large lake, as you can see. The surface area alone is 259 acres (1.05 sq. km).

And it is a busy park, to be sure. In addition to the residents getting their daily constitutionals, there are many planned activities and numerous facilities. I liked going before 7 am when it was quieter and more subdued.

More info: Green Lake Wikipedia.

I have visited Green Lake in all seasons, but I found the end of May to be one of its most charming times with lots of bright green budding growth on trees, plush carpets of verdant grass, and many sweet signs of spring.

There were always several crew boats rowing on the water. The distant microphoned calls of the coxswain were a familiar sound in the overcast, cool morning.

One day there was an outrigger club getting set up for a race. It was raining that morning, but no one seemed to notice or care. In fact, it rained every day.

Other vessels we saw on this freshwater lake were motorboats, kayaks, and sailboats. We saw several swimmers, too.

It was a fun surprise to see Seattle’s most iconic landmark, the Space Needle, while walking the path. The city has painted the Needle in its original color, Galaxy Gold, to commemorate its 60th anniversary.

Green Lake Park has a plethora of trees–tall, stately cedar trees, willows, and many conifers and ornamentals, too. Every so often I would spot someone’s severed fishing line dangling from one of the willow trees.

One afternoon we found a tree with a special prize in it.

In spite of the path filled with strollers, dog walkers, and joggers, and the grassy areas lively with holiday picnics and friendly visits, Athena and I spotted a chickadee feeding her young nestlings. Black-capped chickadee.

The chicks were tucked inside a hole in the tree trunk (above). The hidden, invisible nest would audibly light up with the shrill voices of several demanding chicks every time a parent came in with food. It was entertaining and endearing; giant dogs and humans walked past the tree, crows too, unaware, while the two parents doggedly caught insects, delivered them and repeated the process over and over.

There are busy roadways around the entire circumference of the lake. Streets are lined with businesses and rows of houses, and all are festooned with the ubiquitous rhododendrons. Tall, fluffy bushes in a variety of cheerful colors. There’s nowhere on earth with more thriving rhododendrons than the Pacific Northwest.

Aerial view of Green Lake. Courtesy Wikipedia.

In this expansive, populated city, how refreshing for humans and wildlife to have an oasis of flora and fauna reminding us of the joy and miracles that abound in nature.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

72 thoughts on “Seattle’s Green Lake

  1. I loved this post (the chickadee hole in the tree!). The climate in Seattle is very similar to the climate of Western Pennsylvania and although it has its drawbacks to be sure, the lush green from the rain is like a balm for the spirit. Thank you for sharing this Jet.

    • You are absolutely right, Sylvia, the lushness of the green is like a balm. It was beautiful. I didn’t realize western PA had similar weather as Seattle. Thanks so much, Sylvia, for your visit and words…always a treat.

  2. I so appreciate this post! I have visited Seattle a couple times and I don’t remember hearing about this area before. This gives me another place to visit when I go back.

    • I’m truly delighted to have introduced Green Lake to you, Mark. On your next Seattle visit I hope you do check it out. The Seattle Zoo is adjacent to it. Thanks so much.

    • I was thrilled to find everything so green too, Timothy. And that mallard in the puddle was one of my favorite moments. I think that drake was enjoying his own lake. Many thanks, Timothy.

    • I’ve read that the park was designated a Seattle establishment in 1903, so it was there when you were growing up. How nice that you had six summers there in Seattle, Willy. Maybe sometime if you return, you will enjoy a walk around. Until then, I’m glad I could give you a look at it. Thanks for your comment Willy.

  3. You paint a lovely picture of the hive of activity taking place in around this pretty little lake, and it’s nice to see folks enjoying their green and blue city oasis, weather and all! Cute duck, and what fun you spotted the busy chickadees getting on with it mostly unnoticed by passsersby.
    Thanks, Jet!

    • Thank you, pc. It was really fun spotting the nesting chickadees, I always enjoy sharing a secret with the wildlife that the humans don’t notice. Like I’m one of them. I so enjoyed your warm comment. I thought of you while I was there in the PNW, pc. My warmest thanks and best wishes to you and Mrs. Pc.

    • It was delightful in the north, Wayne. Colder and wetter than I’m used to, but so lush. I like your take on the limeish color. You spend so much time in the outdoors PNW, I’m sure you know the colors well. Thank you, Wayne, always a pleasure.

  4. It’s great when a thriving urban center like Seattle reveals a brilliant living gem like this, especially at one of the most beautiful times of year. Thanks for sharing this enjoyable discovery!

  5. Of course you two would be alert to the chickadee nest, great birders that you are! This park made me think of Central Park, another oasis in an urban desert. An invaluable resource for flora and fauna.

    • You know, Eliza, we were absolutely thrilled to find that chickadee nest. And I, too, thought of Central Park as we walked through Green Park, all the people enjoying a spot of nature. Lots of gardens in Seattle and those rhododendrons are truly spectacular, I think you would enjoy them, Eliza. Thanks very much.

      • I visited a public garden in Portland many years ago and was charmed by the ‘groves’ of rhododendrons that had paths through and under them. We don’t often see that here.

  6. I had exactly the same thought as Timothy, Jet: a duck with his own exclusive puddle. Maybe he is taking lesson from the billionaires who live in Seattle. A fun post. There is nothing like baby birds to make a racket. I don’t know if all baby birds are the same, but the ones I have watched seem to have disproportionately large mouths that are bright orange in color. I suspect the bigger the mouth and the brighter the color, the more likely the chick is to get more than her/his share of the bugs. –Curt

    • Yes, it was that thought that struck Athena when she shot the photo, too, it was a whimsical moment to be sure. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and post, Curt. I love watching baby birds, and it sounds like you do, too. Thanks very much, Curt, for stopping by.

  7. So glad you enjoyed your visit to Seattle, Jet. According to the experts, this has been our wettest and coldest spring since the Truman Administration. As you note, rain rarely deters us from outdoor activitiesβ€”if it did, we’d all be couch spuds. Still, I wish we could share a bit of our largesse with drought-stricken California.

    • Having come from Calif. and spending the weekend in Seattle, I saw the ups and downs of so much rain very clearly and the stark differences in weather. So many variations in habitat and weather on this planet, it’s interesting. Thank you Donna.

    • We were delighted when we came upon the Canada Goose family, M.B., and the goslings in the grass were just adorable. I’m glad you enjoyed the post today, thanks for stopping by.

  8. Wonderful places to be, enjoy open fields, walk a lot and be in contact with water. I hope the wedding was plenty of fun. Do you dance? I like dancing. Thank you for the post, Jet. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, H.J. Yes, I did dance, and the wedding was a deep and rewarding pleasure. I’m happy you enjoyed the post, my friend, thanks so much for your visit.

    • Yes, you know me well, Val. I’m not one for cities and I do so love to take the exotic, usually tropical, trips. But this was a friendly visit to see our friends, and you are right, we found a haven in their city. Always a pleasure, Val.

    • Yes, you would’ve enjoyed seeing the chickadee nest in that park, Donna. It was a wonderful avian secret. I’m happy I could share it with you here. Thank you very much for your visit, most appreciated.

  9. Some of these urban gems are wonderful. Boise is kind of similar in that we have these oases everywhere. Lots of furry ducklings right now, and all the poles seem to be occupied by osprey nests.

  10. A three-mile walk around a beautiful lake sounds idyllic. Those snuggling Canada Goose goslings are adorable. And what a treat to witness chickadee parents so diligently feeding their little ones. I can see why you took this lovely walk every morning of your visit.

    • Wonderful to have you stop by, Barbara. Yes, we were lucky to be so close to Green Lake and have the pure delight of walking around it every morning. My warmest thanks for your lovely visit.

  11. Never made it to Seattle, so am always eager to hear about it. It sounds delightful!
    Having water in city parts especially the lovely Green Lake is such a treat! It’s big!
    Have been curious about Seattle for ages, now I see why. It’s a beautiful city. Maybe,
    just maybe, I will make it out there someday. lovely post and photos Jet! hugs, Eddie

  12. I loved seeing the goslings, and the chick-a-dee nesting hole. What a great park. When I looked at the aerial view of the park I saw the shape of a dove. The last image with the duck in the little wading pond I laughed out loud. That was so cute! Thanks for taking us along on your walk, Jet! I enjoyed my arm-chair view.

    • Ah, a great time sharing Seattle with you, Deborah, and so nice to hear your reactions to the post. I’m smiling, thinking of you laughing out loud at the mallard in his own pond. I, too, enjoy blogging for all the places I get to see in this world. Many thanks.

  13. You describe the many and varied activities around this lake that must be such a blessing in such an urban area. I enjoyed your description of the busy walkers oblivious of the busy chickadee parents! The goslings nestling together are very sweet, and the duck does seem to be very contented with his own large puddle.

    • It’s possible I was more nervous for the chickadee chicks than the parents were, seeing all the very big threats comes so near to their secret nest…yet all were oblivious, yay. I so enjoyed your lovely comment, Carol, thank you.

      • I can imagine your anxiety. There is probably a lot of wildlife that manages to stay unmolested by escaping notice even when living in plain sight so to speak.

  14. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : kindness in Lamego | Still Restlessjo

  15. How nice that you found this beautiful oasis in the city! And, what a lovely way to start those busy days in Seattle. Thanks for sharing.!

    • We were so delighted to carve out some time early in the morning to enjoy nature and exercise before the busy wedding events of each day. Thanks so very much, dear Nan. It is always such a pleasure to have you visit.

  16. What a refreshing spot to find in the middle of a city. Looks like lots of folks (& birds and ducks) enjoying the space (with the needle for background even!!!) Leave it to you and Athena to find the chickadee nest. Good to see you getting out to visit.
    BTW I’ve been noticing we don’t appear to be having the profusion of rhododendrons in bloom along the highway. Don’t know if the crews trimming trees and brush may have wiped some/many of them out or there’s other problems. We have been having outbreaks of sudden oak death (and it seems to be heading north) which apparently also harms rhodies… I’m keeping an eye and ear out for that situation. πŸ€”

    • We were thrilled, Gunta, to spot that chickadee nest. Years ago we volunteered to spot nests for a county project for several summers in a row, and we got really good at it. I hope the rhodie diminishment is merely road crews or an “off” year and not a disease outbreak. Wonderful to “see” you, thank you, Gunta.

    • Yes, I agree, Belinda, green spaces in cities helps people connect with the grounding energy and calm of nature. It was sure a joy for us, and I’m glad I could share it with you. Thank you.

  17. What a nice element to that city. Only been to Seattle a couple of times and both of those were work related to meet with a large software company (technically Redmond I guess) so didn’t get a chance to explore the area much although the places I did see it seemed like the planners tried to incorporate nature into their communities (restrictions on heights of building etc.). Will put this on the list in case I ever get back there, thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Brian, yes, the city planners of Seattle, past and present, have done a good job of integrating nature into this busy city. I’m glad you enjoyed the Green Lake post. Thanks for dropping by and thank you for your lovely comment.

    • Thanks so very much, Sylvia. I’m really glad you enjoyed Green Lake. It was a thrill seeing those adorable goslings and the nesting chickadee activities.

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