Paddleboarding to the sea (Lake Union to Puget Sound)

Today I accomplished my big summer goal of paddleboarding from Lake Union in Seattle to the Puget Sound and back. This is my story.

Paddleboards cannot go through the locks

I’ve seen kayaks go through the locks but never paddleboards. Upon looking into it, I was able to confirm that paddleboards are not allowed in the Chittenden (Ballard) locks. So I got out a map to look for ways around the locks. I found a little street end park at 28th Ave NW and figured one of the various public shores to the north would have beach access. I was hoping it would be the first few, but they are on pretty significant bluffs. So I found that the best re-launch spot is a full 0.7 miles down the road, at the NW 57th St. beach.

Portage around the Ballard Locks for paddle boarders. It’s a bit of a hike (0.7 miles), but not too long. You can grab a burger or ice cream along the way for a break 😎

Photo Journey

The wind forecast for today was really calm and that’s what I had been waiting for. This kind of journey would be too hard for me if I had to fight strong winds in one direction or the other. I left around 8:30am.

I like this 90% sunken boat near the Aurora bridge
Oh wow there’s a bush version of some dinosaurs in Fremont!? I had never seen these.
Ayyy. Tugboats!
Competing tugboat
Heading under the Ballard Bridge. I don’t think I had even been out for an hour at this point
Catching a glimpse of the Fishermen’s Terminal is a new paddle board record for me
Welcome to Ballard!
Peering down the forbidden channel to the locks
This Army Corps of Engineers boat had lots of boat trash on it. I figured this would make a great meme template.
Here is where I got out to start the portage
Fancy gear. I’m using an inflatable SUP that was pretty cheap and a used life jacket from the 2nd hand sports joint
The long walk begins
After getting some friendly advice from some people without homes, I ended up at this pumping station where I could re-enter Salmon Bay… with salt water this time!
I made it to the sea! (Does the Sound count as the sea? not really. Whatever.)
All sorts of new wildlife immediately popped up, like this seal face and some leaping salmon and some blue herons.
Down below there were interesting things like this blurry crab
I got almost to the Discovery Park lighthouse before turning back. Fortunately the wind was blowing towards where the ship canal so I could just ride it back mostly
Some nice wilderness in Discovery Park
Heading back down the canal, by Ray’s Boathouse.
I enjoyed exploring this part of Salmon Bay. There’s a steep cliff off this coral that goes deep really fast.
Mid portage, I decided to take a break and get $5.50 worth of ice cream since that business has got to be suffering with the Locks closed to tourists.
Back in the water. Feeling tired but gonna make it, I think.
Heron showed up on the trash dump this time so I took another shot
Oh nice a helicopter on a yacht from the Cayman Islands! Sounds fun.
Paddle bonus: there are some blackberries that haven’t been picked through!
Troll’s house
Back home

All in it took me about 5 hours. I feel pretty tired and am going to be sore tomorrow, for sure! But it was a lot of fun and I would totally consider doing it again.

One thought on “Paddleboarding to the sea (Lake Union to Puget Sound)”

  1. Nice! That’s a long way but so cool to see Seattle from the water side. A different perspective. One of our rowing routes is out to the locks and back, very familiar with the dinosaur, tug boats, Ballard Bridge, etc. not to mention some lovely tent shelters, one complete with couch out front (I think that has been removed!).

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