Riverview Neighborhood Council
join email group
city contacts
neighborhood groups

» walking riverview

West Duwamish Climb - Hiking Sound Way
text and photos by Alan Robertson, Riverview Neighborhood

Starting point: Highland Park Way and West Marginal Way

Time: Less than an hour for the round-trip.

Altitude gain: Around 300 feet.

Warnings: Wear shoes that you do not mind getting muddy. This trail is not recommended for anything with wheels. The only drinking water and restrooms are at the Riverview Playfields. The restrooms there are not always open.

History of trail

In 1953, the original 1st Ave S. bridge was being planned. In conjunction with the bridge, there was a desire to build freeways into what were then the suburban areas of Burien and SW Seattle. I509 was built as the link into Burien, but Sound Way didn't progress past property acquisition. Sound Way was to connect with the 1st Ave S bridge, heading from there across Highland Park Way and up through what is now being called the Soundway property. It was to continue SW down through what is now Puget Ridge Co-housing, across Orchard near Delridge, down past Westwood Village and ending up near 23rd and Roxbury, just about three blocks east of Safeway.

The Seattle Department of Engineering needed fill for the 1st Ave South bridge construction. The area where South Seattle Community College and the Riverview Playfields are now, was all Sand and Gravel mining. The DOE decided that they needed a road up along the route expected to become Soundway. This would provide their "fill" and allow them to begin cutting through this ridge for future construction of Sound Way. The DOE built a service road from the base of Highland Park Way up to 14th Ave SW and SW Morgan St, with a specified 10% grade. The road then turned South on 14th and exited at SW Holly St.

This hike follows the DOE service road.

highland park way

You can see the parking lot in the center of the picture above, just above the green street sign. From this intersection, we could walk North along the Duwamish River on the Duwamish Trail. You can also head South-East and cross the First Avenue South bridge into Georgetown. For this hike though, we are heading up into the woods.


Above is the trail sign in the parking lot on Highland Park Way. See a close-up of the map below, by clicking on the thumbnail image. Other than Morgan and 14th, pay little attention to the roads within the boundary of the greenbelt. The other roads never made it past the platting and will offer you little reference on the hike.

I was happy to see that all of the Soundway property was included on the map as being protected greenbelt, though it is not yet indicated as belonging to Seattle Parks.

Missing from this map were actual maps of trails. I have drawn here the trail that we are following.

As we start up the trail, really still a service road at this point, we can see the work being done here by Nature Consortium. There are piles of mulch and recently planted trees all around.

The image above is looking back down the hill towards Highland Park Way.


Nature Consortium has included markers with detail on some of the birds that migrate through the West Duwamish greenbelt. Click on the thumbnails above to see the detail.

As we continue up the hill, the road becomes narrower and less maintained.

The road intersects, with the better trail heading South to the Pee-Wee fields. We continue West on the road much less traveled, which has turned into a narrow, over-grown muddy path.

It may be a muddy trail, but there are street lights here, indicating that the blackberries did not always rule.

As we reach the crest of the hill, we can look North over SSCC to downtown Seattle. At this point, we could continue West to 16th and Morgan, but we turn South on the Service Road path which is now on the 14th Ave SW right-of-way.

We exit the trail at 14th Ave SW and SW Holly. From here, we can follow a path West on Holly, down to 16th Ave SW. Or we can head East, up to the Riverview Playfield on 12th Ave SW.

rTrip is planning on connecting this point with a trail to Riverview Playfield and continuing through South Seattle Community College.

Any comments or edits? Please contact Alan Robertson.