The very first hike I posted on this blog, way back in 2009, was called "Lunch Beers". (I haven't included a link because it fucking sucks and I'm embarrassed by it, I guess. If you really want to read it, do a search in the box to your right, but know that I'll hate you for it.) "Lunch Beers" begins near my home in East Ballard, coasts downhill to Fremont, then climbs up and over Queen Anne Hill to Downtown. From there, it's a short ride across the bay on the West Seattle Ferry and finishes at Beveridge in West Seattle.
I can't remember why I'm telling you this. God damn it, my brain is fried. I seriously need to be done posting these Seattle Beer Week hikes before I go crazy.
For my penultimate SBW urban beer hike, I took a very familiar route from Downtown Seattle to Magnolia (along the Terminal 91 Bike Path), through the beautiful park at the Ballard Locks, and finishing up in Northeast Ballard. Mandy and I have been doing this route, in both directions, for years. The T91 bike path is one of the best trails in Seattle. It makes for a long walk, but if that scares you, what are you doing here?
This hike actually turned out to the be my longest of Beer Week -- about 9.8 miles. Here's the map:
Pioneer Square - Belltown - T91 Path - Magnolia - Ballard
View SBW 2013 UBH #5 (Purple) in a larger map
This was the only hike of the Seattle Beer Week collection that I did alone. The weather forecast was not great, so I once again elected to leave Link at home. Unfortunately for Link, it actually turned out to be an OK day and never rained.
Since I had to work early the next day, I began the hike relatively early -- around 11:30am. I started by carbo-loading with some outstanding handmade pasta at Il Corvo. From there, the hike's launch spot, Collins Pub is right around the corner. Both places have a very busy lunch rush -- especially on Fridays.
You can take any number of routes from Collins to the next stop, Bambino's Pizzeria in Belltown. I'm not even sure which way I went -- I just followed the walk signals, only stopping when necessary or to snap some photos.
Bambino's was winding down their lunch service when I got there. If I hadn't already eaten a healthy amount of pasta earlier, I surely would have indulged in a Calarosa. I've probably gushed about this glorious pie before, but it's fucking incredible. Smoked mozzerella, bacon, sausage, pepperoni... Hold on -- I'll be right back.
|Calarosa pic by @socialretard: He eats pizza with a fork.|
OK, sorry. I had a little moment. Anyway, Bambino's also has one of the most consistently interesting beer selections in the city. The owners clearly have the same appreciation for good beer as they do good food. I had my first taste of Stillwater Brewing's Stateside Saison, my girl Mandy's new favorite beer that she's been going on about for months now. It is tasty, that's for sure.
From Bambino's, it's almost four miles to the next stop, but there are restrooms about halfway (see map), so don't worry if you start to feel your bladder complaining. This is one of my favorite hikes in Seattle: you'll walk along Puget Sound for much of it and if it's any kind of nice day you'll have some great views along the way. Just past the fishing pier (where the restrooms are), the path makes a sharp right and goes north along the railroad tracks. It gets pretty industrial here and the path narrows sharply at points, so be careful.
Eventually, I arrived in Magnolia and pretty much the only bar on this side of the neighborhood, The Boxcar Ale House. (The other option is the upscale Mulleady's Irish Pub, but I prefer the down-to-earth, blue-collar feel of The Boxcar.) There's always an interesting cast of characters at The Boxcar. I think of it as a "fisherman's bar", but for railroad workers. There is a pool table in the back and ping-pong out on the patio, but I was content to simply rest my ass on a bar stool and enjoy my pint of Kölsch.
After the Boxcar, it's a bit of an uphill grind and not very interesting until you reach Kiwanis Ravine and a quiet little footbridge that takes you over the railroad tracks and into Commodore Park. Here there is a fine view of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, which you can walk across. I always budget a little extra time here because there is a lot to take in, especially if a big ship is passing through. There's also the Botanical Garden on the Ballard side that's worth exploring.
|Puget Sound meets Lake Union at The Ballard Locks|
Once in Ballard, there are several fine places to get good beer (Noble Fir, Urban Family, Stepping Stone, Ballard Station, Ballard Pizza Company... The list goes on). I chose to head for one of Seattle's newest and best breweries, Reuben's Brews.
I took a slightly different route than I have mapped here, however. As you emerge from the park where the Locks are, you're pretty much right on Market St., Ballard's main thoroughfare. But on this hike, I turned right just before that and followed the railroad tracks for more of a hidden view of the weathered side of Ballard. The tracks act as an unofficial path behind the shops and restaurants that line Market Street and Ballard Avenue. On my left were some rusty tin workshops and on my right were several noisy boatyards and dry-docks with shipwrights tirelessly working away on their projects. There was also a cool old, decaying truck:
Walking "behind the scenes" of Ballard reminded me that it wasn't always the trendy, bustling hub of shopping and restaurants that we see now. Ballard's industrial and marine roots are still clinging to life if you look for them. Walking this route is definitely more raw and adventurous. If you're not familiar with the area, I recommend sticking to Market St. That's fun, too.
It was Friday evening and Reuben's was busy, as expected. When I arrived, my buddies Chris and Dean were holding court in the corner, so I joined them for a couple of beers. It didn't take much convincing for them to join me on the final leg up to East Ballard. After a modest climb, they ended up at The Dray and I continued on to my final stop, The Barking Dog. That's what happened and no one can prove otherwise.
Five hikes down, one to go. I know I sorely need an editor, so thanks for reading.