your paddlesports destination

Lake Washington Ship Canal in Washington

Trip Overview

The Lake Washington Ship Canal runs six miles from Puget Sound and the Chittenden Locks to Lake Washington. There are dozens of launch locations in the Seattle city limits often with free 2 hour parking (for hand launched boats). The most natural area is Union Bay, which is part of Lake Washington.

Bird watchers here have counted about 200 species, to the credit of the city and the University, which actively remove invasive plants. As one paddles toward the sound the water becomes more industrial, but gives visitors a chance to see large ships, drydocks, seaplanes and tugboats up close. It is a great way to see Seattle.

Use caution during nice summer weekends (especially near and in the Montlake Cut) when the amateur ship drivers hit the water with a mai-tai in hand.


There are several waterfront kayak rental shops.
Seattle Parks has online maps showing numerous hand-launch sites. There are also several restaurants with (or near) guest docks.




Go to Seattle


Seattle Parks and Recreation for locations of boat launches
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip