Seattle got covered in over a foot of fluffy snow over three days in one of the first snowstorms of the winter. Being from New York, I was super excited about snow and seized the opportunity to venture outdoors and hike across the city—parts of the city at least. I passed by people cross country skiing across Ballard, downhill skiing on the slopes of Queen Anne, and sledding down many of the city’s steep hills. Seattle turned into a winter playground.
Before I went to sleep on Friday night, the snow was already coming down hard. I set an early alarm the next day eager to see how much snow accumulated overnight and I was surprised by the pristine and untouched layer of thick snow on cars, roads, and sidewalks! It was the perfect opportunity to explore the city by foot and do some urban hiking.
First off, the city of Seattle shuts down whenever it snows because the city and people are not equipped for it and don’t have the right infrastructure. The streets weren’t salted nor plowed, so it was actually very dangerous to be driving in the snow. We saw multiple cars get stuck or attempt and fail to go up hills. I was actually quite shocked at how unprepared the city was considering it’s surrounded by snow all winter at nearby national parks.
We began urban hiking from our place in Ballard with the intention of going to Kerry Park in Queen Anne some 3.8 miles away. As I walked down Ballard Ave, I felt so peaceful seeing the neighborhood blanketed with snow and other people also taking in this rare snowstorm. Outdoor dining restaurants were blasting their propane heaters, snow domes were half covered in snow, and everyone seemed just as thrilled as I was to see snow.
Crossing the Ballard Bridge was the most difficult part of the hike because of how thick the snow was. It was hard getting traction and we would slide backwards with every step – it took a lot of effort to make it across the bridge into Queen Anne. But the view from the bridge looked like we were in the arctic with whiteout conditions and fishing boats bobbling in the water.
Queen Anne was the perfect neighborhood for sledding because of the steep slopes that no cars dare to drive on. We saw college students, kids, and parents sledding on many of the precarious hills. Some had makeshift sleds, like a tin tray, while others had wooden sled and were in full out snow gear. It was entertaining to watch people’s attempts and also gratifying to see how happy everyone was.
We made it to the Trader Joe’s in Queen Anne to refuel with some jerk plantain chips and mango smoothie. With the blizzard conditions and low visibility, we figured Kerry Park wouldn’t have a good views of Seattle and decided to begin our journey back to Ballard!
We accidentally wandered into a more residential area and saw multiple people ski down the slopes of Queen Anne! They would zip down so fast, hike back up, and repeat it all over again. Ski, hike, repeat. It was pretty wild seeing Seattle transform into a backcountry ski course.
We got pretty tired on the hike back and were so happy to be back in our warm and cozy apartment after three and a half hours in the cold. In total, we hiked 7.6 miles from Ballard to Queen Anne with 700 ft of elevation gain.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been itching to do something more adventurous and hiking in the snowstorm satisfied that itch. It was such a different perspective seeing Seattle by foot and being covered under a foot of snow. I also found it refreshing seeing everyone in an uplifting mood and enjoying some outdoor time after being hunkered down at home for nearly a year.