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Thursday, October 23, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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City Walks

Magnolia: Enjoy the bluff, a low-tide stroll or a latte

Seattle Times travel writer

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The walk: Sound, city or mountain view? No need to choose. You can have it all on a breezy stroll along Magnolia Bluff.

Start your walk at Magnolia Park on Magnolia Boulevard West, four-tenths of a mile from the top of the Magnolia Bridge. (The street changes names from West Garfield to West Galer to Magnolia Boulevard.) Park the car and walk down the hill toward the picnic area for a dead-on view of Mount Rainier and a glimpse of the container ships, cruise liners, sailboats and ferries crossing Elliott Bay.

Walk back to the parking lot, turn left, cross the West Howe Street bridge, and bear left onto Magnolia Boulevard for the start of a fairly flat and easy cliffside stroll along sidewalks perched 300 feet above the water.

Here you'll spot the first of the madrona trees that line the southwest part of the bluff. (The neighborhood was misnamed by a Navy geographer who wrongly identified these trees as magnolias.) Some are thought to be more than 100 years old, but many are dying despite efforts by the community and parks department to save them.

Mudslides during the winter of 1996 caused major destruction along Perkins Lane, a secluded street lined with expensive waterfront homes just below the boulevard. Abandoned by their owners, the homes gradually slid into the water and disappeared.

JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Walkers stroll through a stand of madrona trees along Magnolia Boulevard. The area received its name when a Navy geographer misidentified the madrona trees as magnolias.

The best views are from a city-park turnout signed "Magnolia Boulevard Viewpoints," a favorite stop on the tour-bus circuit.

Stand atop a wooden platform or rest on one of the benches (note the plaques in remembrance of local residents, and at least one dog, an Airedale named Dukie), and take in over-the-top views.

For a closer look at the water, detour through the woods down a flight of 150 steps that lead from the parking lot to Perkins Lane.

Walk north along Perkins for about three-tenths of a mile. Look to your right and you'll spot a second set of stairs that leads back to Magnolia Boulevard.

If you've gone this far, you've walked about a mile.

Head back along the boulevard, or take any side street off to your left and admire the manicured lawns and gardens in the residential areas that lead into Magnolia Village.

Secret tip: To reach a patch of rocky beach below the bluff, find the stairway on the north side of the West Howe Street bridge. Turn right at the bottom of the steps, and walk about two-tenths of a mile along the road to the water. At low tide, you can walk along the rocks and driftwood logs to the Elliott Bay Marina.

Snack stop: Magnolia Village at West McGraw Street is two-tenths of a mile north of Magnolia Park. Warm up by the fireplace with an espresso at Tully's, relax outdoors by the fountain at Starbucks or pick up a falafel or souvlaki salad at Nikos Gyros, 2231 32nd Ave. W.

Access: This is an easy walk with a slight elevation gain. There are lots of benches along the way. Curb cuts allow for wheelchair and stroller access.

Parking/bus route: Take the Magnolia Bridge turnoff from Elliott Avenue West. Go up the hill. Park in Magnolia Park (the parking lot is on your left). Buses 19 and 24 go from downtown Seattle to Magnolia Village.

Carol Pucci: 206-464-3701 or cpucci@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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