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Alert 3/22-25: Weekend closure for trail that has a name almost nobody knows under SR 520 in Montlake

Map with the trail marked in red.
Closure map from WSDOT.

The trail that goes under SR 520 between Montlake Blvd and Montlake Playfield that you probably didn’t know had a name will be closed this weekend starting 10 p.m. March 22 and reopening by 6 a.m. March 25, according to WSDOT.

The Bill Dawson Trail*, a name that nobody except the most attentive readers of Seattle Bike Blog have ever heard before, is a bit difficult to find, but it is very useful for certain connections. It starts on the west side of Montlake Blvd adjacent to a freeway on-ramp. The trail then travels down an extreemly bumpy pathway before turning sharply to cross under SR 520 with only a few feet of headroom. But then it spits you out next to Montlake Playfield and connects to E Calhoun Street downhill from Interlaken Park.

WSDOT does not list an official detour, but your basic options are to take E Lynn Street or use the short but steep switchback trail connection on E Calhoun Street to get to 19th Ave E. From there, head over to the neighborhood greenway on 22nd Ave E. Note that E Roanoke Street will also be closed between 20th and 22nd Avenues. The detour options don’t look terrible, but they do require users to navigate the Montlake Blvd/520 interchange area.


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*Though I have not seen any official documentation, the trail’s namesake Bill Dawson was most likely a Navy officer who often went by Bull. He was a former commanding officer at Sand Point Naval Air Station and was an active member of the Seattle Yacht Club, which is based near the trail. He was also a charter member of the Seafair Boat Club. He died in 1990 at 74.


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4 responses to “Alert 3/22-25: Weekend closure for trail that has a name almost nobody knows under SR 520 in Montlake”

  1. BadBart

    Any word on if they will be addressing the extremely bumpy path surface, or better yet, the dangerously sharp blind turn? It seems like the only reason there aren’t more crashes and collisions on that trail is that not many people know it is there.

  2. Anne

    Hope/ expect this is aimed at finishing the tunnel under Montlake boulevard connecting to the 520 trail. Which is a great improvement.

    As BadBart says improving the trail itself under the 520 is long overdue.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I don’t think they are making improvements to this trail right now. There is a longer-term plan to totally redo it, but that is tied to the future project to replace the Portage Bay Bridge: https://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2020/01/29/a-look-at-the-latest-plans-for-connecting-the-520-trail-to-capitol-hill-eastlake/

      1. BadBart

        Thanks. Yay for the rebuild–the vision looks awesome; bummer about the schedule.

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