A long high ridge towers over Interstate 5 for several miles before that clogged freeway intersects I- 90 and enters down town Seattle. The ridge is known to us a Beacon Hill.
If you are not on the smoggy freeway but rather standing above with your bike in the charming Beacon Hill business district there are wonderful places to go. It’s basically a coast from there down 12th Street past magnificent mountain and cityscapes to the International District along Jackson Street. Or before crossing a great bridge over a spacious ravine, you could hang right onto the I-90 bike path that will take you past parks and green space all the way to Lake Washington and on across the mighty Lake to Bellevue depending upon how far you want to go.
Or you could go in the opposite direction from the Beacon Hill Business District south on Beacon Ave. and take the Chief Sealth Trail with its skyline views of the Cascades and Olymppic mountain ranges. That Trail angles down the other side of Beacon Hill to Rainier Valley, a narrow stretch of city between the Hill and Lake Washington. That’s my neighborhood, a colorful feisty, international place where lots of
people know each other and have heated differences of opinion on every imaginable subject, in short, a great place to live! It’s called Rainier Valley.
From the perspective of an old lady biker down in the Rainier Valley, it used to be a long, hard sweaty slog to the top of Beacon Hill. No longer. As of, July 18, 2009, Seattle’s birth date as a true city, there’s a new way. From anywhere in the Rainier Valley it takes only a few effortless minutes to get to the top of Beacon Hill these days. No, I haven’t taken up driving a car, heaven forbid! But after winning a long hard fight, with many boisterous, angry, and sadly misguided factions, in the Rainier Valley, we finally have our first fourteen mile segment of light rail.
All you have to do is put your bike on the train at any one of the lovely stations which have so improved the looks of the Valley by means of their gracious architecture enhanced with amazing public art. Depending on where you get on, it will be only a stop or two before you enter Beacon Hill via tunnel and a few seconds later arrive at the Beacon Hill Station
Push your bike off and pause a few seconds to appreciate the Station’s artistic simulation of evening sky and deep blue sense of outer space. Walk under bright creations that look like sea monsters or giant bacteria suspended in the sky and into one of the four big elevators each spacious enough to turn a couple of bikes around at once.
With breath taking speed the elevator rises 160 feet. The doors open. Step out. And Voila! Find yourself on a beautiful new plaza with attractive plantings and paving stones. Red Apple Market appears like magic in front of you, a familiar land mark to get your bearings in the heart of the Beacon Hill business district. No slog. No sweat. A few short minutes of comfort, ease, and beauty have brought you to a height that used to take the better part of an hour to achieve.
Now for a gorgeous downhill ride in any direction!
P.S. I want to put in a shameless campaign plug here for Mayor Greg Nickels who is up for reelection. If it were not for his indomitable persistence, Seattle would not yet be born as a real city.