Highway 99 isn’t a popular pedestrian route, but the segment on the east side of Queen Anne Hill is surprisingly sheltered and comfortable, leading to beautiful views from the Aurora Bridge. Dexter Ave N is a nice residential street for a stroll on the way back.
Head north along the east side of Aurora. Across the highway is the Church of Scienology, with its large Dianetics advertisement. Up ahead you’ll see a large neon Pepsi sign. The original sign, installed in 1958, was globe-shaped and was replaced by the current version in 1998.
After passing a parking lot on the right, Aloha Street is the last through street that you’ll have to cross for over a mile. The sidewalk is insulated from the street by a row of trees that provide a surprising amount of shade and protection from rain (as I learned from experience). And, while the buildings aren’t really pedestrian-oriented, they combine with the trees to provide a surprisingly comfortable walking experience.
There are a few breaks in the trees and the buildings as you pass by some parking lots and car repair businesses. There is also a courtyard and some other viewpoints where you can overlook Lake Union and look across to Capitol Hill.
On your right are several staircases down toward Dexter Ave. The street will veer left. This is one of the more uncomfortable parts of the walk, as you can see where some vehicles have left the roadway.
On the opposite side of the street is the Aloha Inn Transitional Housing.
You’ll pass by Seattle Hydroponics, which sells lights and other materials for growing plants without soil, a more efficient way to grow plants. You’ll see their large revolving lights through the window as you pass by.
The east side of Queen Anne hill is interesting, as there are several old, non-descript buildings, including a couple homes and the Hillside Motel.
At one point you’ll pass over a quiet one-lane road, which is the southbound exit from Aurora to Dexter Ave. Shortly after that is Lynn St, which you’re free to take, as it curves right back around to Aurora.
The George Washington Memorial Bridge is close ahead. Feel free to walk as far along it as you wish. It offers a beautiful view east including Wallingford and Gas Works Park on Lake Union.
There is a staircase to pass under the highway if you’d like to look out on the west side toward Fremont, Ballard, and the Olympic Mountains. The bridge was opened to traffic in 1932 and has been the site of over 230 suicides becoming the second deadliest suicide bridge in the US. Phones and posters were installed as a deterrent, but some groups are campaigning for the installation of a safety net or protective barrier.
Head back south along the east side of Aurora. Cross the first street you pass, Halliday St, and then turn left on it. If you turn left on it before you cross, you’ll reach an awkward little intersection with no crosswalks where the sidewalk just ends. Continue along Halliday St as it curves right and turns into 6th Ave N. You’ll pass a park and p-patch under construction on your right before reaching Dexter Ave N.
Go right on Dexter to head south. This is a nice little neighborhood and is similar to Eastlake, though without the commercial center or new condos.
Enjoy the stroll on this quiet street as you head back toward our starting point at Mercer.
highlights: few driveways to cross over along Aurora, trees provide good cover and insulation from the street, Dexter Ave is a nice residential street, good views from the bridge
lowlights: few commercial places to stop for a drink, lack of public space, fast traffic along Aurora