A First-Timer’s Guide to Hammocking Around Seattle

Embrace the canopy 🌳

I grew up in a tree. Not literally of course: the orange-scented Western red cedar in my neighbor’s front yard had a tiny human-sized nook I loved to sit in. Now, as a seeker of urban solitude and a former hidey-hole lover, hammocking is more than a hobby. During a busy life, it’s become a snug incentive to get outside and do absolutely nothing. Trees spread across over 15,000 acres in Seattle, making it one of the best cities in the country to partake in this leisurely pastime. 

That said, people who hammock are (understandably) secretive about their favorite spots. When I told a fellow hammock-toting friend I was working on this guide, I picked up on the slight lilt of panic in their voice. Part of the beauty in finding the perfect spot is the discovery of it. This beginner-friendly resource will help you prepare for your first hang and point you toward abundant, tried-and-true tree cover

Setting up 🌴

📸: Getty Images

An important reason for the aforementioned gatekeeping: Seattle has lost 255 acres of tree canopy due to various factors, including climate change. Thin ropes and cords can damage trees, so make sure you’re using a tree-friendly suspension system. Read through REI’s responsible hammock-hanging guidelines before you get started. I love ENO’s Atlas XL straps because they’ll work with any simple hammock (probably even the one you bought on vacation that one time), and they’re made to fit around thicc trunks

I pair my straps with ENO’s DoubleNest. To me, it feels like the California king of hammocks: roomy enough for two people, or a silky soft cocoon with loads of extra fabric for one. A win for all occasions! After 5+ years of ownership and regular use, mine is still in great shape. Most hammocks come with incredibly easy setup directions, but watch this how-to video if you’re a visual learner. 

Packing a bag 🎒

📸: Charli Bandit

If you plan on hammocking all summer long, it’s efficient (and easeful!) to keep a bag of essentials packed and ready to go. Consider the vibe you want to create for yourself. What do you need to feel playful, mellow, or soothed? Here’s what’s in my bag:

  • A big blanket: A necessity for sleepy, perpetually cold people. A blanket can also double as a pillow or a backup landing spot if you can’t find a place to hang your hammock.
  • A book: Reading is my in-hammock activity of choice. Tree-lovers, The Overstory by Richard Powers is a particularly immersive read. 
  • An edible treat: Cannabis-based or not, snacks are essential. Hunger will strike when you’re at your coziest. 
  • Airpods: I’ve found that noise cancellation and lo-fi playlists pair well with gently swaying in midair. 
  • Sunglasses or a baseball hat: To keep the sun out of your eyes. I am not one of those Seattleites who constantly misplaces their sunnies

Hanging Out

📸: Nancy L VanderVeer

Not all parks are created equally. When I’m scoping out a park for places to set up camp, I’m looking for a spot that meets these criteria:

  • Clear of pathways: Don’t be that person. Avoid obstructing pathways that other park-goers would use, and be mindful of animal habitats. Ducks can be territorial, especially where ducklings are concerned. 
  • Healthy trees: Look for thick, sturdy tree trunks. Avoid trees with dead branches and trees hosting creatures you might disturb.
  • The right distance: A spot between two trees 10-15 feet apart is ideal, but you can make do with less space if you shorten your straps.
  • Creative alternatives: No trees? Look around. Are there any other structures you can use as a hammock pole?

The following parks have several spots that fit this bill. I encourage you to branch out: explore smaller parks and green spaces in your neighborhood to find a spot that feels like it’s truly yours. 

 7201 East Green Lake Dr N, Seattle
 Also great for: getting your steps in

To me, Green Lake feels like Seattle’s backyard. Rollerbladers and paddle-boarders rub elbows with power-walking stroller moms. Toddlers wade in the shallow kiddie pool; older kids howl before jumping off the lake’s diving boards. A gaggle of dudes are usually angling to play pickup basketball. There are at least four places to get coffee nearby. Also, neighborhood institution Spud Fish & Chip is open again!

 1247 15th Ave E, Seattle
 Also great for: listening to bird calls 

Get a feel for bougie old-world Seattle. The parks department finished building out most of Volunteer Park in 1912. The reservoir, the Conservatory, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum cloak the entire space in a pretty contemplative air, so make this your pick if you need some quiet. Shady spots are tucked throughout all corners. Continue your deep thinking with a walk through Lake View Cemetery, just north of the park.

 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle
 Also great for: swimming

Pack your swimsuit and take a dip in Lake Washington after your hang. At 350 acres, Magnuson Park is the second largest park in Seattle. It was also originally the site of a Naval Air Base from 1922 to 1995. Now (among many other things), it’s home to the city’s only off-leash dog park with water access and a craft brewery with tons of outdoor seating and loaded tots. 


Meghna Jaradi

Meghna leads with her curiosity when writing about travel, food, and beverages. She previously wrote about cookbooks at Kitchen Arts & Letters, and has managed events and communications at Book Larder, Peddler Brewing Company, and Cascade Bicycle Club. She is newly pescatarian and a Seattle native. Follow along at @wanderingthali.

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