This trail through grassland takes you near wetlands that are popular with bird-watchers.
View Union Bay Natural Area Loop in a larger map
Start near where Union Bay Pl NE changes to NE 41st St. There is street parking in the area, or a parking lot nearby if you will also be attending the UW Botanic Gardens. The 25, 65, and 75 buses stop about 1/4 mile away from the beginning of the path on NE 45th. The land is owned by the State of Washington and under the care of the University. It’s important to stay on the trail to protect local habitat. Union Bay Natural Area is mostly managed by volunteers who continually work to remove invasive species.
Where the street (Union Bay Pl NE) curves, there is a trail perpendicular to the sidewalk. Take this trail away from the street, passing by a small landscaped area with flowers and bushes.
Shortly after passing the building, you’ll pass a informative kiosk on your right, with information on the restoration in the area. Shortly after you reach the grassland and descend down a small incline, you will turn left when you reach the next path.
This loop passes the water of Union Bay, with lily pads and different varieties of birds who make their homes near the wetlands. There’s also a view of the Rossellini (520) bridge and Bellevue.
Continuing on, Husky Stadium will loom large in the distance. At a couple spots, the trail splits briefly into two trails just a few feet part. One of the paths seems newer, so volunteers working to restore the land may be planning to decommission the trail that is closer to threatened area. In any case, it doesn’t matter much, take whichever path you’d like.
You will soon return to the main trail turn right at the trail and head back to the entrance.
You’ll pass a trail leading to the left, which you might think would take you somewhere interesting, but it doesn’t really go anywhere worth going in a way worth getting there. So, continue back to the starting point at Union Bay Pl NE.
highlights: diverse natural habitats, view to east, gravel trail in good condition, birds in the area
lowlights: little shade, not much of an escape from the city as UW is visible at all times