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Thursday, March 4, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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City Walks

Lakewood: Staircase views add to the lure of Lake Washington

Seattle Times Travel editor

The walk: This walk will test your lungs and legs but will reward you with some spectacular views, a lovely lakeside stroll and more than a few chances to walk some of the staircases that make climbing and descending a bit easier in the hilly Seattle neighborhoods that border Lake Washington.

Park your car on the east side of Lakewood Playground, at 51st Avenue South and South Ferdinand Street. Cross eastward over 51st and take the first set of up-the-hill staircases that serve as the continuation of Ferdinand — it's one of those notorious now-it's-a-street, now-it's-not byways Seattle is famous for. The stairs end in about a block at the top of the hill, where Ferdinand Street resumes, but then the pathway and eventual stairs continue when you cross 52nd — because Ferdinand (the street) stops again. Stay on the path/sidewalk and turn left at the first set of stairs you can, at 53rd Avenue South. If you look north from there, you'll see Lake Washington and the Lakewood Marina in the distance. Walk down the stairs, staying on 53rd as it passes some lovely homes, and make your way to the lake.

Once there, turn right onto Lake Washington Boulevard South and walk one very flat mile to the entrance of Seward Park — if you can.

GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Colorful flowers are on sale at the PCC Natural Market near Seward Park.

There are so many places to stop and ogle the views, you may not make it before sundown. A little park land on a promontory just south of the marina is one example of many places to sit and enjoy the lake as you head to Seward Park.

Once you arrive at Seward, turn right and hike (because it's steep) up South Juneau until you come to Seward Park Avenue South, about a block. Turn right.

And yes, you'll keep climbing, but it's a much gentler climb.

As you walk along the avenue, you'll not only see some good examples of midcentury city homes but increasingly amazing views of the lake, the Cascades and Mount Baker the higher you climb.

Near the crest of the hill, you'll veer left onto South Dawson and then, after a few blocks, you'll reach the intersection for Wilson Avenue South and South Dawson and 51st South. And food! (The uphill portion of this walk is about three-quarters of a mile).

GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Neighborhood residents Rich and Liisa Prehn descend the South Ferdinand Street stairs on their way to Lake Washington Boulevard South.

At the intersection and for about two blocks north, you'll have a choice of foodstuffs. And you'll have the happy knowledge that you're only about four blocks south of your car or original bus stop.

Once you sit behind the wheel — or the passenger in front of you on the bus — bask in the knowledge that you've just made it 2.2 miles.

Secret tip: Remember Ferdinand, the on-again-off-again street? Instead of turning off the sidewalk portion to the stairs at 53rd, continue east to the point where the sidewalk stops and becomes a staircase again. Your short walk will reward you with a stunning view across Seward Park to the Cascades beyond and an unmatched view up Lake Washington to yet more mountains and Mount Baker — on a clear day. Additionally, you'll get to enjoy a patch of great walkside landscaping done by neighbors.

Lunch or snack stop: Café Luna, at 5100 S. Dawson St., near the end of the walk and in business now for about 2-1/2 years, offers up a nice selection of breakfast and lunchtime fare. A companion and I had a grilled tomato/pesto/mozzarella flat-bread sandwich for $5.50 and a caesar salad for $4.75. You can sit inside or outside at the cafe, or order items to go.

Café Luna is open 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays (when only breakfast items are served). Call 206-721-6308 for more information.

Access: For those who can't maneuver the sets of stairs and the climbs this walk requires, an alternative is to park your car at Seward Park and head north for a mile, along Lake Washington, to Mount Baker Park. The path along the lake is paved, broad and provides plenty of viewpoints and places to stop and enjoy.

Parking/bus route: Parking is plentiful and free in the area around Lakewood Playground. The area also is served by Metro's Route 39 — though make sure to check weeknight and weekend schedules because there are route changes.

Terry Tazioli: ttazioli@seattletimes.com or 206-464-2224

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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