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Hiking Discovery Park's Loop Trail

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Hiking Discovery Park's Loop Trail

I'm 24 years old, and more often than not, I find myself pondering questions about my place in the world, who I want to be, and what it means to be alive.

For anyone who has made it past the phase millennials coined "the quarter-life crisis," these questions may seem silly, but to me and thousands of others floating around in their mid-20s, they feel like everything.

My research (scrolling through Instagram) led me to realize that my peers are coping with nauseating self-discovery through travel. My timeline is littered with photos of hot people traversing Europe, Boston, and New York. A few have ditched civility to travel the country in vintage camper vans.

My career as a writer (and inability to find a no-strings-attached sugar daddy) means I cannot afford these glamorous coming-of-age adventures, but I can still get out and explore. I live in one of the most beautiful regions in the world, and when the calendar turned over to 2023, I vowed to get to know it better by hiking 12 trails this year. For me, hiking is therapy.

Like most aspects of self-care, hiking has also taken a backseat in my life. Nine months into the year, I have hiked exactly one trail — but I'm not giving up. If I trek along a new one each week, I can still reach my goal. Maybe by December, I'll feel more connected to myself — or at least have killer calves.

Discovery Park
I started my journey with one of Seattle's easier trails: the Discovery Park Loop. This 2.8-mile path snakes past four parking lots, winds through serene mossy trees, and eventually deposits hikers at beautiful observation points with views of Puget Sound.

While the trail takes hikers deep into lush forests, it is not secluded. You can expect to pass plenty of other people and also weave right by roads. For the most part, the path is well maintained and easy to traverse. It also has several outhouses and porta-potties, so leave your poop shovel at home.

Upon reaching the lookout spots, there are benches to rest at. For the more adventurous hikers, steep stairs lead to an offshoot path to the beach.

Getting lost in The Loop
Anyone with more common sense than a fruit fly would find the Loop Trail easy to navigate. I, unfortunately, do not have common sense. Upon my arrival, a couple of European tourists asked me how to get to Illinois Street. I shrugged and apologized. Pointing to my LA Dodgers hat, the couple noted aloud that I must be from California and also lost.

I am not from California. I wear the hat because it has my initials on it.

A fruit fly may have taken a mental note of what lot she parked in. The fly may have remembered landmarks, so as not to become frantically lost shortly after her encounter with European tourists. I did no such thing. Instead, I traversed the paved trail with my dog, Benji, and took too many photos of mushrooms.

We followed the loop down to the beach, where Benji made friends with other dogs. On our way back, I noticed the paths diverged. Without a glowing neon sign reading "Walk this way, Lindsey," I felt unsure of which route to take and made a gamble.

A fruit fly may also have noticed that "the Loop Trail" is self-explanatory. If you follow the same trail for long enough, it will deposit you right back to where you started. Unfortunately, I could not recall where I had started.

As we continued to walk, several people passed us. Discovery Park is a great location for long-distance runners. One mulletted individual in pink shorts passed us four times. The third time, I realized we were lost — and embarrassingly slow.

Eventually, the gears clicked. I needed to stop following the signs that pointed out the Loop Trail and start looking for the signs pointing toward the parking lot.

Always remember where you park
We followed the path toward the North Lot for half a mile. When I finally spotted the parked cars, I felt I'd finished a race. My euphoria died, though, when it turned out that my car was not in this lot.

We continued east, scoping out each parking location until we finally arrived at the one I'd parked in. Benji and I climbed into my car, exhausted from the journey. In all, we'd walked 5.5 miles — 2.5 of that searching for our car.

In all, Discovery Park is a beautiful location for beginning hikers. The trail is easy to find and easy to manage (and easy to get lost on). The beach access and proximity to the city make this hike especially fun. Other walkers are very friendly, willing to offer advice, and make assumptions about you based on what hat you choose to wear.

Despite hiking alone, I never felt unsafe, even when my dog treat crumbs failed to bring me back to my car. The walk provided a brief escape from reality and plenty of natural serenity for thinking. It also helped me discover something about myself: I have no sense of direction.