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The Climb

What is Your New Year's Mountain to Climb?

Article by Jessica Smith

Photography by Bradley Jerome Photography

Originally published in Kirkland Lifestyle

The response to an age-old question—“What’s your New Year’s resolution?”—is given much thought this time of year. Maybe you have several small hills to climb, or perhaps you are facing one big mountain. Regardless, many of us will resolve to hit the gym and sweat it out as we tackle our hurdles.

Although the gym is often a much more bearable solution to the impending Seattle rain, should you decide to opt outside and get your sweat on in true Seattle fashion, Kirkland is equipped with several of its own natural outdoor stair steppers and presents many options for knocking down hills or climbing that mountain. When you decide it's time to shed those holiday pounds, consider taking a breath of fresh air, clearing your head and beginning your climb on one of Kirkland’s natural stair steppers.  

Perhaps you are new to town and weren’t aware of these hidden outdoor alternatives to the stationary stair-stepper, or like many of us, maybe you grew up exploring these trails and stairs throughout your entire childhood (before curfew, of course).

Forbes Creek Stairs

The stairs at Forbes Creek are a Kirkland favorite when opting outside.

210 wooden railroad ties will leave you breathless and have your heart pumping in no time. Some might make this climb just once and feel like they’ve overcome their hurdle, while others might challenge themselves to summit the stairs numerous times before they’ve reached their personal goal.  

Head east on Forbes Creek Drive until you spot the turnout and yellow painted pole off to your right. There the stairs—and likely several others who are looking to face their mountain—will await you. Just a mile southeast of Juanita Village, enjoy a nice cool-down walk and all of the amenities you need in order to relax and revel in your conquest.

Forbes Creek Stairs

210 stairs

Bottom: Forbes Creek Drive

Top: Crestwoods Park

Handrail available

Cotton Hill Stairs

Residents from several Kirkland neighborhoods put forth a group effort to renovate these once dilapidated stairs. Thanks to these dedicated volunteers, the stairs are now much improved and provide an excellent workout. What was once a steep, slippery trail is now a sturdy stairway awaiting your climb. Travel north on Sixth Street, east on 12th Avenue, follow around the sharp bend to the left and all the way to the end where you will see the Cotton Hill Park sign. Just a few yards down the trail you will find this stairway on your right.

Cotton Hill Park Stairway

128 stairs

Bottom: Cross Kirkland Corridor

Top: 111th Avenue NE


116th Avenue NE Stairs

In close proximity to the Cotton Hill Park stairs, the 116th Avenue NE stairs offer as challenging a workout as either of the others, with nicely constructed stairs and abundant nature to enjoy. If feeling up for a challenge, take advantage of these stairways that are now connected via the Cross Kirkland Corridor and walk, jog or climb for miles while you enjoy all of the nature Kirkland provides year round. Travel east on Seventh (which turns to 87th), follow the sharp bend to the left and continue down 116th Avenue NE until the end where you will find 115 stairs waiting to greet you and your resolutions.

116th Avenue NE Stairway

115 stairs

Bottom: Cross Kirkland Corridor

Top: 116th Avenue NE

Whether you are tackling a mountain or a molehill, Kirkland’s natural stair steppers will not disappoint as you endeavor to summit your climb. Ignore the voices saying you will never get there, and remember: it’s not about how quickly you make it, or what is waiting on the other side—it’s the climb.

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