paddle boarding in Seattle
Lake Union at night, Ratul Ghosh on Unsplash

Seattle, Washington is a fantastic place to paddle board, with many waterways and a thriving outdoor culture. I’ve been paddling for many years, am always looking for new places and thought you might be too. Here’s are 15+ places for paddle boarding in Seattle and surrounding areas.

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Paddle Boarding in Seattle

There are many fantastic places to paddle in Seattle and within a twenty minute drive of the city.

1. Lake Union

Lake Union is a popular spot for paddle boarding, and socializing, in Seattle. It’s a large, freshwater lake in the heart of the city, and it offers great views of the city skyline.

There are several places to launch your paddle board around the lake, including the Sunnyside boat ramp at the northern end of the lake and the docks close to Moss Bay Rentals.

2. Green Lake

Green Lake is a smaller lake in north Seattle that’s popular for kayaking and paddle boarding. It’s surrounded by a park with a 2.8-mile path for walking, jogging, skating or biking. There’s a rental shop on the lake where you can rent a paddle board if you don’t have your own.

3. Alki Beach

Alki Beach is a popular beach in West Seattle that’s great for paddle boarding. It’s a long, sandy beach with epic views of downtown Seattle and the Olympic Mountains. There are several rental shops in the area where you can rent a paddle board.

4. Meydenbauer Bay

Meydenbauer Bay is a small bay in the heart of Bellevue that’s great for paddle boarding. It’s a calm and sheltered spot that offers great views of downtown Bellevue. There’s a public boat launch on the bay where you can launch your paddle board.

5. Enatai Beach Park

Enatai Beach Park is a popular park in Bellevue that’s great for paddle boarding. It’s located on the shores of Lake Washington and offers beautiful views of the lake and surrounding mountains. There’s a public boat launch at the park where you can launch your paddle board.

6. Mercer Slough Nature Park

Mercer Slough Nature Park is a wetland park in Bellevue that’s great for paddle boarding. It’s a peaceful and scenic spot that offers great opportunities for wildlife viewing. There’s a public boat launch at the park where you can launch your paddle board.

7. Newcastle Beach Park

Newcastle Beach Park is a park on the shores of Lake Washington that’s great for paddle boarding. It offers beautiful views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

8. Lake Sammamish State Park

Lake Sammamish State Park is a large park on the shores of Lake Sammamish that’s great for paddle boarding. It offers several miles of shoreline and beautiful views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Eagles are commonly sighted here.

9. Elliot Bay

You can launch from any location along the coast, but there’s a particularly lovely beach area close to the amphitheater of the Olympic Sculpture Park, also ideal for sunsets. The park itself is adorned with magnificent sculptures that add to the visual appeal of the area.

Additionally, the breathtaking view of the Olympic Mountains during sunset from Elliott Bay makes it one of the finest vantage points in Seattle.

10. The Ship Canal in Fremont

Located between Lake Union and the Puget Sound, the Ship Canal at Fremont presents a hidden gem for paddleboarders seeking a challenge. This spot is especially ideal for intermediate-level paddleboarders who are up for a test.

Although launching from this location may prove to be somewhat difficult, the experience is definitely worthwhile. As you paddle through the canal, you’ll pass through the Arboretum and enjoy unbelievable views of Seattle’s downtown.

11. Discovery Park

Located just a 20-minute drive away from Seattle, Discovery Park is an excellent destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat for stand-up paddleboarding.

The West Point Lighthouse serves as the optimal location for launching your SUP, as parking is conveniently located near the water’s edge. Once there, you can paddle out onto the Puget Sound, Seattle’s iconic waterbody, but make sure to keep an eye out for boat traffic.

12. Shishole Bay and Golden Gardens

This photogenic location has a ton to offer. With beautiful beaches and the mountains serving as a breathtaking backdrop, it’s undoubtedly one of the top destinations in the Seattle area.

To start your adventure, park and launch from the north side of the marina, but be aware that this dock can be quite busy on sunny days. Alternatively, you can also launch from Golden Gardens and paddle your way around Shilshole Marina.

13. Juanita Beach Park

Families looking to enjoy paddleboarding together will find Juanita Beach Park an ideal destination. The protected area offers safe and calm waters, making it the perfect spot for beginners. Located in the Kirkland region on the northeast side of Lake Washington.

14. Olympic Beach

Olympic Beach, in Edmonds, is an excellent option for a great paddling location. You can savor the stunning view of the Olympics across the water or simply sit on a bench and observe the ferry as it comes and goes.

Alternatively, you can launch your board from the north along the waterfront to Brackett’s Landing or head south towards the Edmonds Marina. The latter has more obstacles on the beach, such as logs, but is a stunning location away from the ferry traffic.

15. Seward Park

For a remarkable paddleboarding experience in Seattle, Seward Park is the place to be for both beginners and intermediate paddlers. The waters in this area are relatively calm, making it an ideal location for paddleboarding, and the view is stunning. The best launch is from Andrews Bay.  

16. Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake, in Sammamish, WA, is a popular destination for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding, with calm waters and scenic surroundings. There is a public boat launch at Beaver Lake Park, located on the east shore of the lake, where you can launch your kayak, canoe, or paddle board.

The park also has a beach area, picnic facilities, and a playground.

17. Lake Ballinger

Next to Ballinger Park in Seattle, Lake Ballinger is a very calm lake. It’s a wonderful place for beginners to learn as it’s smooth and relatively spacious once on the water. The beach itself can be crowded with families however, especially on sunny summer days.

Paddle Boarding Outside of  Greater Seattle Area

Rattlesnake Lake paddling

If you’re looking to leave the Seattle area and explore the rest of Washington state, you’ll find a huge variety of beautiful options for paddle boarding. If in doubt where to launch, it’s perfectly okay to stop in at a nearby rental shop and ask for their opinion.

Hood Canal

Hood Canal is a long, narrow fjord in western Washington that’s perfect for paddleboarding. With calm waters and stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, Hood Canal offers a truly unique paddleboarding experience. There are rentals and tours available, or you can bring your own board.

Gig Harbor

Gig Harbor is a popular destination for kayaking and paddleboarding due to its sheltered harbor, calm waters, and scenic surroundings. There are several places in and around Gig Harbor where you can rent kayaks or paddleboards, and many options for guided tours or self-guided trips.

Snoqualmie Pass area

There are several places where you can paddle in the Snoqualmie Pass area, such as Rattlesnake Lake, Keechelus Lake, Lake Kachess, and Lake Easton.

Lake Tapps Park

Lake Tapps is a large reservoir located in Pierce County, and is a popular destination for paddling. There are several places around Lake Tapps where you can launch your kayak or paddleboard, including a public boat launch at North Lake Tapps Park, located on the north shore of the lake.

Cottage Lake

Located just east of Woodinville, Cottage Lake is perfect for beginners. It’s a small, quiet, and charming lake. There are no motorized craft allowed on the lake, which ensures smooth water and helps with smooth sailing!

Hiking, Paddling and Camping

Lake WA at sunset

Washington state offers many options for hiking, camping and paddleboarding, where you can do all three from one location.

Lake Wenatchee State Park

Lake Wenatchee State Park is a popular park in the Cascade Mountains that offers hiking, camping and paddleboarding. There are several low elevation hiking trails in the park, and Lake Wenatchee is a great spot for paddleboarding.

Lake Chelan State Park

Lake Chelan is surrounded by several hiking trails, including the Lakeshore Trail and the Chelan Butte Trail, and the calm waters of the lake are perfect for paddleboarding.

Deception Pass State Park

Deception Pass State Park is a beautiful park on Whidbey Island that offers both hiking, camping and paddleboarding. There are several hiking trails in the park, including the popular Deception Pass Trail, and there are several nearby lakes and bays that are great for paddleboarding.

Moran State Park

Moran State Park is a beautiful park on Orcas Island with several hiking trails in the park, including the popular Mount Constitution Trail, and there are several nearby lakes that are great for paddleboarding. The park also offers several campsites for overnight stays.

Ross Lake National Recreation Area

Ross Lake National Recreation Area is a remote and scenic area in the North Cascades. There are several hiking trails in the area, and Ross Lake is a great spot for paddleboarding.

The area has several campsites for overnight stays, including backcountry campsites accessible only by paddleboard or boat.

Baker Lake

Baker Lake is a large reservoir located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, near the North Cascades. The lake is popular for paddleboarding, kayaking, camping and fishing, and offers stunning views of Mount Baker.

Lake Crescent

Located in Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent is a stunning glacial lake that’s perfect for paddleboarding. The clear blue water and breathtaking mountain scenery make for an unforgettable paddleboarding experience.

There are campsites here, on a first come first basis, and a lot of unforgettable hikes.

San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands are located off the northwest coast of Washington and offer some of the most scenic and serene waters for paddle boarding. With calm waters, secluded bays, and stunning scenery, paddleboarding around the San Juan Islands is a must-do for any paddling enthusiast.

The hiking and camping, at Orcas Island or Stuart Island, is phenomenal and there’s a huge range of possibilities for every fitness level and interest.

Mowich Lake

Mowich Lake, in Mt Rainier National Park, offers some incredible hiking and paddling opportunities. And camping overnight is a great idea once you’ve made it that far, no reservations required.

Hiking with Your Paddle Board

Beaver Lake

Have you dreamed of paddling on a lake you can only get to by hiking? Same. I’ve not done it yet, but I fully intend to now that I have a lighter board. Here are a few options for such an adventure.

Ipsut Pass via Wonderland

This is a 3-mile round trip hike to the lake, so you’ll need to carry your paddling gear, and your camping gear with you. It’s a beautiful hike and a lovely lake that is not quite as crowded as many of the hikes at Rainier. 

I recommend a two-person effort for this, with all that there is to carry. But you can also lighten your load and make it a day trip for just hiking and paddling.

Bench and Snow Lakes

This is an under-rated, yet overwhelmingly beautiful hike along the Stevens Canyon Road in MRNP. The hike is relatively short, 2.5 miles and you’ll want to save your paddling for the bigger and second lake, Snow Lake.

There is camping here with a backcountry permit, but you can easily make this a day hike/paddle as well.

Skyline Lake Trail

This is a steep and short hike and a popular one for winter snowshoeing and camping. You can also hike in the summer and bring your board too.

If you’re willing to carry it 2.5 miles round trip, with 1000 feet elevation gain, you’ll likely be the only one on the lake.

FAQs about Paddling in Washington

Commonly asked questions about paddling in Washington State

Do you need a permit to paddle board in Washington?

You do not need to carry a WA Boater’s card with you on an SUP, but you do need to know the basic laws and safety protocols for water safety, particularly on waters with motorized boats.

What do you wear to SUP in Seattle?

There is a variety of gear you should consider when paddling to keep you safe and comfortable, including a life jacket, sun hat, rash guard and in the winter, a wet suit or dry suit.

What are the benefits of paddle boarding?

Paddle boarding is an excellent full body workout and a beautiful hobby to share with friends.

Where can I launch my paddle board in Seattle?

You can launch your paddle board at many places in Seattle, including Sunnyside boat ramp at Lake Union, Green Lake, Alki Beach, Meydenbauer Bay public boat launch and Enatai Beach Park boat launch.

Final Thoughts: Paddling in Seattle

These are just a few of the many places in Washington state where you can go hiking, paddle boarding, and camping overnight. Be sure to check the regulations and conditions of the areas before you go.