It’s so easy to get to the Ballard Locks (also known as the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks after the Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District Engineer that was in charge of the Ship Canal project as well as many other notable projects across the Western United States including Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks), just continue west down NW Market Street in Ballard. If you can avoid stopping at all the tempting shops and restaurants, you will soon come to a group of businesses that take up more room and inhabit old warehouses spaces, including a well known Seattle spa called Habitude, and Stone Gardens, a local rock climbing gym. Just past these on the left, after the Lockspot Cafe (very well reviewed all over the local websites, in fact one satisfied diner claims to come all the way from England to eat there now and then), is the entrance to the park and working location of the Ballard Locks.
When the salmon are running perhaps the major attraction is the fish ladders and salmon underwater viewing pavilion. Even last weekend when we were there we saw some fingerlings swimming down from the rivers where they are hatched, and stay between several months and two years before making their way to the ocean for the next and longest part of their life cycle. But at the moment, other than the gardens and spring flowers here and there, the most exciting part of the visit has got to be the big lock. There is a small one too, which fills up quite fast and small boats actually line up to pass through, but the big one takes a lot longer and is for quite large vessels. My son was fascinated with this and refused to leave the side of the lock until it had completely filled up and the ship safely passed through to the ship canal on it’s way to Lake Union or even maybe to Lake Washington beyond (passing under the I-5 bridge and past the University of Washington to get there). There were quite a few visitors from all over come to see this Seattle legend.
The other well represented group were stylishly appointed bike riders with high end bikes. We interviewed one of these gentlemen and learned that he was commuting from downtown Seattle up to his home in the north end of Ballard. If you come up through the city and go through Magnolia, then you cut over across the bridge to Ballard and proceed on. It is possible to go all the way, on the Burke Gillman Trail, to the north end of Lake Washington then around the lake and down the Eastside as far as Issaquah. Talk about intrepid! We also learned that this is National Bike Month.
Coming back from these adventures we were delighted to meet three Canada geese on the lawns, seemingly they had stopped for a rest and a snack of insects before continuing their journey northwards.