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Help Emily find a route from W Seattle to Mid-Beacon Hill

Emily sent me this email. Can you help her find a good route? Be sure to take construction on Spokane into consideration.

I live in West Seattle and currently commute 3 days a week to the VA hospital on Beacon Hill.

The distance is short and I would love to bike it, but the few times I’ve tried to figure out how to do it I’ve ended up lost, stuck (dead end), or with a flat.

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Any chance you or someone associated with the blog can share a reasonable route?

I’ve tried google mapping it and even used the city websites, but construction/detours and “can’t get there from here” moments have almost caused me to give up.

I’m sure Emily is not the only person with this problem. So help them out in the comments. If you have a Seattle biking question of any kind, send Tom an email.

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15 responses to “Help Emily find a route from W Seattle to Mid-Beacon Hill”

  1. Mark Kerrigan

    What part of West Seattle do you live in? North or South?

    1. Tom Fucoloro


  2. Soon there will be a new SODO-Beacon Hill bike path tailor-made for your commute, but not quite yet (see http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012880997_biketrail13m.html ). For right now, I would take a route something like this, though the Beacon Ave section is a bit hairy: http://tinyurl.com/3qjujan There are better bike facilities if you instead go north on 6th, take a right on Dearborn and a right on 12th.

    If you’re going to the south end of Beacon hill, there’s a decent route down the Duwamish river trail, over the 1st ave bridge, through Georgetown, and across I5 on Lucille street. Hope this helps!

    1. 1st Ave Bridge -> Georgetown is a little dicey because Michigan Street is the highway between SR99 and I5. Stick to River street a little south of Michigan Street here to get over halfway through the thick stuff.

  3. Beacon Biker

    West Seattle and Beacon Hill, two neighborhoods with minimal east-west access. You’ll definitely have to take the lower West Seattle Bridge. I think the best route would be to head south on Airport Way into Georgetown. Go up the Lucille Bridge, and take Lucille to 15th. 15th will connect you up with Columbian Way and you are at the the hospital.

    You can also avoid riding uphill entirely and hop on light rail at SODO station and get off at the Beacon Hill Station. Then you just have a little over a mile flat ride from the station to the hospital.

    The most direct route would be to continue up Spokane, and there are a set of stairs that meander above and below the West Seattle Bridge and I-5 to get up to Beacon Hill, kind of a pain, but a straight shot.

    You can also head a bit north to Holgate, but that hill is pretty steep and not the most bike-friendly.

    1. Avoid Airport way during rush hours and take 6th Ave S instead. It’s a much slower and quieter street, just give the trucks plenty of room.

  4. Anthony

    I halfway second Beacon Bikers route. The only difference I would make is to go south across 99 and over to either its Oregon or Colorado streets, by the UP argo yard. This diagonal cut-off goes under First, then crosses Fourth at the Napa store. Eventually it puts you right onto Lucille.

    1. Jon Glick

      This route intrigues me. I think it would be really good if you can find your way onto Duwamish Ave from E Marginal Way, just south of where the West Seattle Bridge Path ends. This should continue onto Colorado but sometimes the streets in this area get lost in huge truck parking lots. I will have to go down there and explore…

  5. Jill

    I used to commute from West Seattle to Georgetown, and I understand your frustration. The Spokane St construction is very confusing, and just when you found your route everything changes. Don’t be afraid to ride where cars aren’t allowed, just use common sense and don’t go where they’re actually working. Check out the project page here: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/spokanestreetdetour.htm. They don’t have great advice for bike commuters, but look it over and then email the contacts at the bottom and tell them your frustrated with bike facilities. Plenty of cyclists use this area, and they should consider how to accomodate them during construction.

    Also, I used to think of my commute as a video-game adventure, finding routes and avoiding obstacles while trying to finish in record time. That made it a lot more fun.

  6. I typically go Airport way up to Dearborn. At Dearborn go across into the international District. I follow 7th I believe until I hit King Street. Go up King to 12th. 12th is a Designated bike lane. Follow the bike lane all the Way to the VA. It approaches from the back side, via Beacon Ave. S. I take this route because the hill is less intense than Lucille and 15th. I always go through Georgetown Industrial area to get to Airport Way S. Kind of the long way around, but then I like to ride and want my ride to be as safe as possible.

  7. Though Holgate is steep it is definitely the fastest (especially going home!) and most direct route up Beacon Hill from West Seattle. I previously put together a video tour of my favorite route which is essentially what was mapped by the first poster: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=880857

    For more routes off Beacon Hill to various destinations check out our website:

  8. Nick N

    Hey fellow West Seattleite. I do the commute to Boeing Field weekly. The best route I found was lower bridge along Spokane Street to 4th Ave South where it’s a right turn and then a left turn onto Industrial (big high tension lines) to either a right on 6th or Airport Way. Head into Georgetown on Airport way and take either Lucile street or for a less steep hill go to Albro Way and take the bridge across I-5 to a left turn onto Swift and then meet up with 15 Ave S which you should be able to take all the way to Snoqualmie St where you can make a right and be at the VA. Somewhat circuitous, but a pleasant ride. I’d avoid the Michigan St 1st ave south area as there really isn’t a good spot for bike there even though the Duwamish trail signs direct you that way.

  9. Emily

    Wow! Thanks for all of the advice everyone.
    I’m sad to learn there isn’t a “perfect” route I’d somehow missed, but also glad to know I am not the only one frustrated by this West Seattle/Beacon Hill disconnect.
    I’ll try out what I can this weekend. If any of you do the same or learn something new, please post again!

  10. I find that trying the route on a day off often helps you map it best. To try when you need it is just not that feasible. On a day when you have the time to determine the route, you also learn a bit about the traffic and the difficulty of things like hills and lights. Happy commuting to you!

  11. jdg

    take the albro/swift idea floated a few posts up.

    i do it nearly daily, and its pretty bike friendly. haven’t had any troubles with traffic/cars/etc (knock on wood)

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