Where can you get a woodsy hike and an urban stroll in the same afternoon? Let’s call it the Woodland Park to Wallingford hike. Mike and I walk the 1.5 miles (each way) to the Wallingford neighborhood fairly often; there’s a drugstore and grocery store, various shops of both practical and whimsical natures, and plenty of eateries.
The simplest route is via local streets bordering the west and south sides of the Woodland Park Zoo, down the N. 50th St. hill, turn south (right) until you hit 45th St. – Wallingford’s main drag. That’s the neighborhood/urban stroll.
But today, we navigated one of the paths of lower Woodland Park, a surprisingly forested oasis between the zoo and south end of Green Lake. This trip is a bit longer than the normal half an hour, but it makes for a fun – and only very slight – detour. The trick to getting from our Phinney Ridge neighborhood to any point east – Wallingford, Green Lake, and beyond – is knowing where you can cross Aurora Ave. (Hwy 99). This would be true whether you’re driving or walking, because the road is 1) a real highway with fast-moving cars, and 2) divided by Jersey wall in stretches.
On foot, you can go under Aurora Ave. by heading east on N. 50th St. and dipping beneath the Hwy 99 overpass (stay to the left-hand side of 50th). If you want the woodsy hike, however, you have to find one of the two pedestrian overpasses. There’s one at roughly N. 55th St. and another at roughly N. 52nd. In the Wallingford direction, you’ll want the one at 52nd. Get there by taking Phinney past 52nd and looking for a little trail to one of the zoo parking lots. Skirt the zoo’s perimeter fence and cross the lawn then zoo’s south entrance, head toward the rose garden (a pretty, free park at which you might want to stop). Then it’s through the woods and over the highway – meander downhill and to the right and you’ll re-connect with N. 50th St. After crossing Green Lake Drive/Stone Way, you can take a right at any street and go a few more blocks to the heart of Wallingford.
We turned on Woodlawn, the street closest to our lunch spot: The Golden Olive. Small and friendly, this Greek restaurant serves up tasty avgolemeno and other traditional dishes. We ordered pita sandwiches; Mike’s with large grilled tiger prawns, spring mix, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki. Mine had balsamic glazed veggies with fresh basil and goat cheese. It was nice to be able to choose soup, salad, or Greek fries with our sandwiches, and to specify white or whole-wheat pita. Double hits of Greek coffee finished off the delicious meal for both of us…well, Mike took one for the team and tried dessert: Galactobourieko – citrus infused farina custard with phyllo, honey-lemon syrup, and cinnamon. It was so tasty that it disappeared before I could get a photo!
After running our errands at the drugstore and family-owned lighting store (where I ordered a cool new LED light track for the kitchen – the better to cook breakfast under), we took the more direct route (N. 50th to Phinney) home so I could get back in time to check in arriving guests.
Click here for a map of the routes (enlarge to see pedestrian overpasses).