Take your workout up a step: A guide to running stairs in Seattle

Take your workout up a step: A guide to running stairs in Seattle

Credit: KING / Caitlin Murphy

To add intensity and a full-body challenge to your run or walk, try mixing in a few sets of stairs. Running stairs is a great way to incorporate interval training, boost your calorie burn and work your muscles while still getting a cardio benefit.


by CAITLIN MURPHY / Special contributor to KING5.com


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Updated Friday, Apr 4 at 3:02 AM

To add intensity and a full-body challenge to your run or walk, try mixing in a few sets of stairs.  Running stairs is a great way to incorporate interval training, boost your calorie burn and work your muscles while still getting a cardio benefit.

Seattle features over 650 public stairways, many of which are ideal for adding into your workout.  For a detailed map of all the stairs in the Seattle area, visit Doug Beyerlein’s website:

Members of our KING5 Get Fit Facebook group enjoy incorporating this workout to their fitness regimes and shared some of their favorite places to run or walk stairs in and around the Seattle area. You’ll find those locations below categorized by neighborhood.  

PHOTOS: A guide to running stairs in Seattle

Now, before embarking on a stair workout Corey Galusha has some suggestions to get you started. He is at certified personal trainer and owner of Ultimate Results Mobile Personal Training.

First it’s important to begin gradually since running or walking stairs is intense exercise.  “If you are just starting out on the stairs and have not done a stair workout before, start off walking up and down at a quick pace with control,” Galusha said.

Once you can master walking up stairs add some speed and try running. When you feel comfortable running you can begin to sprint, but keep a controlled pace on the way down. 

How many times you repeat running the stairs depends on the length of the staircase. Longer staircases might only require two or three repeats while you could add more repetitions to shorter staircases. You can also simply set a time limit for your workout.

Eastlake/Capitol Hill

Howe Street Stairs
Located in the Eastlake/Capitol Hill neighborhood, the Howe Street stairs ascend under I-5 and are ideal for the hardcore exerciser. Here you’ll find the most continuous steps in Seattle (388 to be exact) that will take you up about 160 feet and over 13 flights.  The great thing about these stairs is you only have to do a few runs to the top to get an intense workout.

810 E Howe St., Seattle, WA 98102

East Blaine Street Stairs
Just a few blocks south of the Howe Street stairs you’ll find the East Blaine Street stairs. A slightly shorter journey coming in at 293 stairs, the staircase is wide making it great for running up and then back down continuously. Some people like to run down the Blaine Street stairs and then up the Howe street stairs. One bonus of the Blaine Street stairs, especially during spring, is the blooming garden to enjoy at the top.

1820 Lakeview Blvd E., Seattle, WA 98109

West Seattle

In West Seattle you’ll find the Thistle Stairs, which were once the longest continuous stairs coming in at 367 steps making them just 21 steps shy of Howe Street. Given the stairway’s location you can warm up with a jog through Lincoln Park and take in views of the water and Vashon Island.

8335 46th Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98136

Queen Anne

Queen Anne is actually packed with dozens of staircases so you have plenty from which to choose. Staircases range in length from 30 to 100 to over 200 steps. If you want to string a few staircases together try the Galer Street stairs on the west side of Queen Anne Hill. The 500-step run will take you from Dexter Ave. to the TV tower at the top of the hill.  Queen Anne also offers lovely views of downtown Seattle to enjoy while you get your work out. If you’d like to see a map of all the stairs Queen Anne has to offer, check out www.qastairs.com.

484 Galer St., Seattle, WA 98109

Beacon Hill

Near Rizal Park on Beacon Hill you’ll find several staircases. Head to the ones on 15th and Atlantic or 17th and S. Massachusetts Street for great views of the water and downtown Seattle.

1326-1398 Sander Rd. S., Seattle, WA 98144

Seattle Waterfront

The Seattle Waterfront is home to four staircases along a running trail that stretches beside the water from SODO to Magnolia. The first staircase is located at Harbor Steps with waterfalls, several landings and about 100 steps.
89 University St., Seattle, WA 98101

Those looking for an intense workout should try the stairway from Western Ave. up to 1st Ave. at the end of Union Street. This staircase is 141 stairs long and very steep meaning you only need a few trips to get a full sweat session.

1400 Western Ave., Seattle, WA 98101

Head down the waterfront to Pier 66 and you’ll find stairs that will take you to one of the best views in Seattle. Atop the Bell Harbor Conference Center sits an observation deck that overlooks Elliot Bay and the Seattle skyline. It’s exquisite at sunset and a lovely treat after running the stairs.

2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98121

Olympic Sculpture Park

And speaking of great views, the stairs at the entrance to the Olympic Sculpture Park offer unobstructed 360-degree vistas of the waterfront and Space Needle. The stairs are a shorter run, only about 50, and you can get a nice warmup or cool down running through Myrtle Edwards Park.

2901 Western Ave. Seattle, WA 98121

University District

Jog along the Burke Gilman tail to the west side of the University of Washington and you’ll find three staircases that start near the Montlake parking lot and end on the UW campus. The stairs offer beautiful views of Lake Washington and range from 100-200 steps. Visiting on the weekends is a good idea since foot traffic is high during the school week.

4124-4186 Montlake Blvd NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Workout ideas

While you can simply add a few stair runs to you regular run or walk, if you’d like more variety Galusha has some workout suggestions. Just remember this is an intense workout so feel free to walk the stairs if you like.

30 Minute Stair Workout (works best with shorter staircases…)
•    Sprint up the stairs and come back down as quickly as you can with control.
•    Turn right back around and now skip a step while going up the stairs as fast as you can, come back down with control (only skip a step if you’re comfortable with it).
•    For the third and forth round, turn to your right and go up the stairs sideways as fast you can while crossing your foot in front. After you come back down, turn to the left and repeat.
•    Finally , when you come back down, go back up backwards as quickly as you can but with control.
•    Start that whole sequence over again. Repeat for the desired time or for 30 minutes!

Full-body workout

•    Run or walk up and then back down the stairs
•    Perform 20 walking lunges away from the stairs then turn around and perform 20 walking lunges back toward the stairs
•    Run back up the stairs with an advanced option of running every other step
•    Once you get back down perform 10-20 pushups
•    Run back up the stairs with an advanced option of running sideways
•    Once you get back down perform plan position for 30 seconds to one minute
•    Repeat for 20-30 minutes

Keep in mind this is an intense workout so start with walking up a few flights then gradually increase your speed and workout duration. With so many options offering lovely views and adding variety to your workout, next time you head out for a run or walk, why not take the stairs.