A Measured Approach to Walking in Bellevue

One of the more practical gifts I received from Santa this past Christmas was an electronic pedometer. For the uninitiated this small device attachs to clothing and at the most basic level it simply counts steps as you walk. But it reveals so much more; ultimately it shows me whether my fueled by beer walks actually do me any good healthwise…

Before I could start using my pedometer I had to program it with my stride length and body weight.

Armed with this information the pedometer calculates total distance walked; it distinguishes between aerobic and non-aerobic walking; and it calculates calories consumed and fat grams burned.

All this is recorded in real time until I download the data to my PC. Software provided with the device allows me to view my historical walking data down to hour-by-hour increments if needed.

My first walks with the pedometer were in previously unexplored territory so I had no preconceived notions about how rigorous they might be. However, on a recent walk that I previously considered quite tame, I actually learned from my pedometer data, that it is more challenging than I realized.

This shows me that in order to gain health benefits it is not always necessary to go on a major hike. Particularly when the weather and conditions underfoot make hiking the Lake to Lake Trail during winter less than ideal, a walk around Bellevue’s urban downtown core can do just as much good healthwise.

This walk begins and ends at Bellevue Botanical Garden, circling around downtown Bellevue for about 5 miles. Places along the way include Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue Transit Center, Bellevue Square, two laps around Bellevue Downtown Park, returning via Old Main Street. More than 60% of my walk along this route achieved aerobic levels according to the pedometer.

When I walk in urban areas one thing I always try to do is stay off major arterials wherever possible, so with this in mind I want to walk on as little of the following as possible: 116th Ave NE; NE 4th St; and NE 8th St.

Starting from the parking lot at the Botanical Garden, follow the path past Sharp’s Cabin to where it emerges onto Main St. Then cross over the street and look for the rough pathway through the trees leading to the office park behind. This shortcut brings you down directly to 120th ave NE thus avoiding the unnecessary detour along Main St and SE 1st St.

There is another shortcut I like to use: Along 120th Ave NE, at Home Depot, walk through their parking lot in front of the store and head for the small picnic shelter on the far side. Go past the shelter then cross over the disused BNSF railway track to another path on the other side. This will bring you out at 116th Ave NE and NE 4th St.

Within the next couple years or so NE 4th St will be extended east from 116th Ave NE over the railway tracks to 120th Ave NE – exactly the shortcut I just described. Also, the entire eastside rail corridor is now in public ownership, with the segment running through Bellevue to be developed by King County into a recreational trail. Now we’ve arrived at 116th Ave NE, cross over and walk along NE 4th St., crossing the I-405 overpass. Upon reaching 112th NE Ave turn right.

If you prefer not to use the Home Depot shortcut continue on 120th Ave NE to NE 8th St and cross the freeway there. At 112th Ave NE and NE 8th you can either wander through The Bravern Center up to 110th Ave NE, or turn left on 112th Ave NE and rejoin my route at NE 6th St – at Meydenbauer Center.

At NE 6th St walk up the hill passing Meydenbauer Center, then continue along NE 6th St through the transit center, and along the pedestrian corridor past Rock Bottom Brewery, to Bellevue Square.

I’m not a mall person so here is where I turn left along Bellevue Way, then upon reaching NE 4th St, I cross over Bellevue Way and make my way along NE 4th to the Downtown Park. Spend some time here – it’s one of my favorite places in Bellevue. Two laps around the walking path adds 1 mile to our overall hike.

When ready to leave the park exit on the far west side onto 100th Ave NE, turn left, then head down to Main Street. Turn left and explore the section of Main Street between 100th Ave NE and Bellevue Way known as Old Bellevue.

From Bellevue Way I leave it up to you how to return to the Botanical Garden. Stay on Main or zigzag between NE 2nd St and Main St exploring the intersecting avenues as you go – either way, eventually cross back over I-405 on Main St.

From 116th Ave SE my map follows a longer but gentler climb up Wilburton Hill to the Botanical Garden. Be aware that the shorter signposted route to the Garden up SE 1st St is extremely steep. OK for cars, tough for pedestrians.

If you walk this route with your own pedometer, let me know your stats. Enjoy!

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