Explore the Northwest

Thanksgiving Turkey Trots and Northwest Hikes

Explore the Northwest

What to Do This Thanksgiving? Go Hiking or Join a Turkey Trot

Washington State Fair-goers sharing cotton candy

What’s your favorite thing about Thanksgiving? For many, it’s sitting down to a feast full of turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. For others, it’s the chance to unwind and watch football. And for yet others, it’s a chance to reconnect with family and enjoy some togetherness.

Being in the Pacific Northwest during Thanksgiving offers an additional opportunity to enjoy the holiday while staying active. Some communities offer turkey trots to help work off the stuffing and pumpkin pie while raising money for charity. In addition, the holiday offers the chance to stretch your legs in the region’s famed outdoors, which offer everything from urban trails to day hikes along the coast or in the wilderness.

Raincoats, fleece and gloves may be in order this fall, but don’t let rainy weather or chilly temperatures stop you from getting out and staying active after that second helping or between football games on TV. 


Runners on a trail

The Bellingham area is rich with outdoor experiences, whether in and around the Chuckanut Mountains or along scenic race courses. Here’s a rundown of how to make the most of Thanksgiving around Bellingham.

The leafy, 11.8-mile (round-trip) Interurban Trail, for instance, follows an old train route while offering wide-open views of the San Juan Islands. Spur trails along the way also deliver views of surrounding mountains, lakes and beaches.

The path connects with nearby Larrabee State Park, where hikers can access the Chuckanut Ridge Trail, a 10.4-mile (round-trip) hike that’s rich with switchbacks while offering views of Mount Baker and peaks in British Columbia. Note that visitors parking at Larrabee State Park must pay a $10 day-use fee or present a valid Discover Pass.

After either hike, explore Bellingham’s Fairhaven Historic District, lined with red brick buildings and dotted with restaurants and shops, including the popular Village Books.

About 4.5 miles south of Bellingham off South Samish Way, the trail around Lake Padden offers a relaxing outing with little elevation gain. The 2.6-mile loop around the lake is an easy path, largely under a canopy of evergreens and deciduous trees that offers a splash of fall colors in late November. The lake attracts a wide variety of waterfowl, including American coots, cormorants and ducks. The park has restrooms, but they may be locked in the fall and winter. 

Bellingham also hosts a pair of popular turkey trots. The Greater Bellingham Running Club’s Turkey Trot 5K at Squalicum Creek Park is scheduled for Nov. 23, 2019, and raises money for the Bellingham Food Bank. Meanwhile, the inaugural Give Thanks 5K run/walk will take place on an out-and-back route along the scenic Railroad Trail on Thursday, Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving morning).

Check out our guide to things to do in Bellingham. 


Seattle's Golden Gardens ParkWith mountain ranges on either side of the city and mild fall weather, Seattle is an outdoor lover’s dream. So whether you’re enjoying the views from a fun run course or along your favorite hiking trail, you’ll find plenty to enjoy over the Thanksgiving weekend. Here are a few highlights around the region. 

The 13th annual Seattle Turkey Trot takes place on Thanksgiving Day and is among the city’s most popular seasonal events. Participants can enjoy a walk/run through the Ballard and Sunset Hill neighborhoods before ending at Golden Gardens Park on the shore of Shilshole Bay. The Seattle Turkey Trot benefits the Ballard Food Bank. 

Meanwhile, the Thanksgiving Day Apple Cup 5K celebrates Thanksgiving and the annual rivalry football game between the University of Washington Huskies and Washington State University Cougars. The mostly flat run/walk loops around Green Lake and supports Northwest Harvest, a nonprofit hunger relief agency.

If joining an organized walk or run isn’t your thing, Seattle hosts a variety of popular urban hikes.

The 534-acre Discovery Park is one of Seattle’s most popular green spaces. The park sits on Magnolia Bluff, with nearly 12 miles of hiking trails that traverse forests, bluffs and beach settings. For a fun introduction to the park’s natural beauty, consider the 2.8-mile Discovery Park Loop Trail, which cuts through forests and open meadows while showcasing views of the Olympic Mountains; the path is popular with bird-watchers trying to spy woodpeckers, bald eagles, great blue herons and other species. Several parking lots are scattered throughout the park, including at the visitor center off West Government Way.

Other popular trails around Seattle include the flat loop around Green Lake Park, one of the city’s busiest, best-loved urban parks. A 2.8-mile loop circles the lake and is bustling with cyclists, runners and walkers all year long (even when the weather doesn’t cooperate). The park hosts small parking lots on the western and eastern shores of Green Lake, and street parking may be available along the roads and in the neighborhoods surrounding the lake.

On the eastside, the family-friendly Beat the Bird 5K and Lil' Drumstick 1K gets underway on Thanksgiving Day at the Kelsey Creek Shopping Center in Bellevue’s Lake Hills area. The race winds through Lake Hills Greenbelt Park and raises money for the Renewal Food Bank in Bellevue.

For an easy day hike on the eastside, consider the Coal Creek Falls Trail in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, southeast of Bellevue. The 2.5-mile round-trip hike passes through thick forests before ending at the namesake waterfall, a 28-foot cascade powered by runoff.

More adventurous hikers will find several moderate to difficult hikes a short drive from Bellevue or Seattle, including the Rattlesnake Ledge trail near North Bend. Rattlesnake Ledge is a popular urban getaway that attracts hikers and trail joggers drawn to wide-open views of Mount Si and Mount Washington. Rattlesnake Ledge is among the region’s most popular outdoor destinations, so keep in mind that the trail can be crowded with hikers and dogs on weekends and holidays. Take caution around exposed cliffs at Rattlesnake Ledge itself, and prepare for potential winter conditions by packing your hiking essentials. The trail starts from the parking area at Rattlesnake Lake; take Exit 32 off Interstate 90 to Cedar Falls Road SE.

Check out our guide to more things to do in Bellevue. 


Flowers at Tacoma's Rhododendron GardenWherever you go in Tacoma, you don’t have to look hard for stately, tree-lined streets or expansive views of Puget Sound. Even as one of the state’s largest cities, Tacoma maintains a tight-knit connection with nature. Here’s how to enjoy the sights this Thanksgiving.

Work off all that turkey and stuffing before you indulge with the family-friendly Tacoma City Turkey Trot, scheduled for Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28. The event — which includes a 5K walk/run, 1-mile run and a 1K for kids — takes runners and walkers through Tacoma’s Proctor District, with leafy streets and a cluster of historic buildings along the route.

For something at your own pace, Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park hosts about 15 miles of trails. One of the most popular trails is the 2.6-mile (round-trip) Spine Trail, which takes hikers through Rhododendron Garden to a spectacular viewpoint of Gig Harbor. Park at Owen Beach, off Five Mile Drive, in the park.


Portland Turkey TrotYou’re never far from nature in Portland; most of the time, you don’t even have to leave city limits for tree-line trails and stunning cityscape views. Here’s how to enjoy Portland’s unique blend of urban and natural settings this Thanksgiving.

The Oregon Road Runners Club’s Turkey Trot at the Oregon Zoo takes participants between the zoo and the International Rose Test Garden, both in Washington Park, all on Thanksgiving Day. The 4-mile run/walk, which also includes a one-third-mile Tot Trot and a one-eighth-mile Diaper Dash for little ones, raises money for the zoo. The day before, on Nov. 27, the Hood to Coast Race Series’ Turkey Trot gives runners and walkers the chance to see the holiday light displays at Portland International Raceway. Runners and walkers can choose between a team relay race or a 5K, and a shorter Kids’ Trot is scheduled for earlier in the evening.

If you’re not up for an organized run or walk, you’re in luck: Portland boasts scores of urban hikes and walks for hikers of all abilities. The city’s Washington Park includes miles of trails, as well as access to the International Rose Test Garden, Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, World Forestry Center and Portland Children's Museum. Washington Park’s 3.9-mile Hoyt Arboretum Trail connects Hoyt Arboretum, which hosts a large stand of sequoia and redwood trees, with Pittock Mansion, home to lush rose gardens, as well as views of Mount Hood and the Portland city skyline. Some parking is available at the Hoyt Arboretum’s Visitor Center off Southwest Fairview Boulevard, west of downtown, but it fills up quickly. The park is also accessible via the MAX Light Rail’s blue and red lines.

Another option is the 1.7-mile loop hike at Kelley Point Park, which leads to the tip of a peninsula at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. The trail winds through woods and along the water, where hikers can see container ships, eagles and osprey, as well as views of Mount Hood. Kelley Point Park is about 13 miles northwest of downtown Portland, accessible via Interstate 5 north and North Marine Drive.

Check out our guide to things to do in Portland.


Oregon coastEvery Thanksgiving, visitors flock to the Oregon Coast to relax, watch storms roll in off the Pacific Ocean and, if lucky, spy migrating gray whales. Here’s a quick guide to fun runs and fun hikes along the coast.

Looking to enjoy a run or walk before sitting down to dinner? Several popular towns along the coast host fun runs and walks on Thanksgiving Day, including Newport (which hosts the Newport Turkey Trot) and Seaside (home to its own turkey trot).

The Oregon Coast also offers a seemingly endless number of hikes. One of the most popular follows a wide, flat beach, framed by sand dunes and giant headlands, at Nehalem Bay State Park ($5 day-use fee required). Hikers can even follow the shore into the cute community of Manzanita, dotted with shops and restaurants. For something more challenging, the trails at nearby Neahkahnie Mountain give hikers the chance to view Nehalem Bay and Manzanita from 1,600 feet above sea level and offer panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

Looking for somewhere to stay? The Oregon Coast is dotted with accommodations for visitors. The Sunset Surf Motel in Manzanita offers ocean views near downtown, Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport caters to literature lovers and the River Inn at Seaside sits on the banks of the Necanicum River.

Check out our guide to Oregon's North Coast.


Mountain View in BendEven as storms rage off the coast and rain drenches the Willamette Valley, Central Oregon — shielded by the Cascade Range — enjoys sunshine all year long. So it only makes sense the region remains an outdoor destination, even in fall and winter.

The Redmond Turkey Trot 5K and 10K doesn’t take itself too seriously, encouraging costumes and offering courses geared toward runners of all abilities, including a 1K run for kids 10 and younger, as well as 5K and 10K options. The run/walk event is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, just south of Redmond.

For a quick stroll that’s long on views, hike up Pilot Butte, an extinct cinder cone just east of downtown Bend. Three trails lead to the top of the 480-foot butte, which offers sweeping, 360-degree views of Bend and several mountain peaks, including the Three Sisters and Mount Bachelor. From downtown Bend, take Northwest Greenwood Avenue east as it becomes U.S. 20. Year-round parking is available at Pilot Butte Neighborhood Park at the base of Pilot Butte, just north of the roadway.

Check out our guide to things to do in Bend.


IdahoWhatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Spokane and northern Idaho: waterfalls, mountain peaks, crystal-clear lakes and — of course — Thanksgiving-themed fun runs. Here’s a rundown of how to get outside this holiday season.

Spokane’s Bloomsday Road Runners Club is hosting a turkey trot at Manito Park on Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving Day). The event will benefit the Second Harvest hunger-relief network. 

The 700-acre Palisades Park is one of Spokane’s most popular day-hike destinations. The park offers a network of trails and attractions, such as Indian Canyon Falls and views of downtown and Mount Spokane.

For a more vigorous adventure, check out the hiking trails at Mount Spokane State Park ($10 Discover Pass/day-use fee or $20 day-use Sno-Park permit required) about 25 miles northeast of the city. The park offers year-round recreation, with trails for hiking, cycling, horseback riding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and Nordic skiing.

Across the state line in Idaho, the annual Turkey Trot CdA follows the scenic North Idaho Centennial Trail while raising money for Real Life Ministries, which serves the homeless community in and around Coeur d'Alene. The event, which includes 1K, 5K and 10K runs or walks, is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day at the Coeur d'Alene Kroc Center.

Coeur d’Alene also hosts several scenic lake hikes. One of the most popular is Tubbs Hill, a park with several trails on the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene. 

Check out our guide to things to do in Spokane. 

–Written by Greg Lamm


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