How to Paddle Duck Bay at the Washington Arboretum, Seattle
The Washington Park Arboretum is 230 acres of botanical gardens with beautiful, winding trails through unique plants and trees. The park also includes a Japanese Garden managed by the City of Seattle that can be explored for a small fee. Most importantly, the arboretum is located on the shores of Lake Washington - perfect for stand up paddle boarding (SUP)!
Duck Bay extends from the arboretum into Union Bay and can be accessed from Union Bay or through the Washington Park Arboretum by launching near the Graham Visitors Center. I didn’t have a car, so I requested a ride share to Parking Lot #16 located at the end of Foster Island Road near the visitors center. I found a great launch spot right across from this parking lot. It is a little muddy, so be sure to bring a towel for cleaning your board.
Duck Bay is swampy in areas, but the beauty of the trees, plants and wildlife is unmatched! I was the only person on the water and it was incredibly peaceful. I paddled with the ducks - that were surprisingly very tolerable of me - and out to the edge of Union Bay. If you paddle into Union Bay and head east, you’ll find Lake Washington. Paddle west through Portage Bay for Lake Union access or cross the bay and explore the shores of the Union Bay Natural Area near the University of Washington. The water in the bay was a little rough the day I paddled, so I didn’t get to explore, but it’s at the top of my list for next time!
As you paddle towards Union Bay, you’ll pass under Highway 520 and encounter a trail between Marsh and Foster Islands. I saw plenty of runners on the trail and there were a few openings underneath to access Union Bay. I enjoyed paddling this open water to extend the length of my paddle. Duck Bay isn’t a large body of water, but the experience is worth the trip.
The Washington Park Arboretum should be on your list of things to do in Seattle just to explore all the trails and enjoy the beauty of the arboretum. There are no SUP rental options here, so you will need to bring your paddle board for this SUP adventure. Access to these unique experiences are just another reason why I love owning an inflatable paddle board. Paddling the serene waters of Duck Bay was one of the highlights of my trip.