Glide Guide: Mercer Island, Washington

Submitted by Brandon Heiser

Put-in: Clarke Beach Park – Mercer Island, Washington

Takeout: Clyde Beach Park – Bellevue, Washington

Time: 1 to 1.5 Hours

Wind Direction: South, SE, SW

About The Run: This fresh water gem of a downwind run is approximately 6.5 miles long and is located within a 20 minute drive from downtown Seattle. The first 3 miles produce the best swells for glides, with 3′ – 4′ bumps not uncommon in the Winter months.

The run begins by paddling out into the middle of Lake Washington between Renton and Mercer Island. This two-minute warm up in side wind and chop is over soon, once you turn downwind the glides begin and can easily go 20 seconds per wave on a great day. Again, the first 3 miles are the best – once reaching the East Channel Bridge the wind wraps and continues behind you all the way to the end but loses its strength and the swells diminish. Once reaching Meydenbauer Bay, the last mile is great as the swells regroup and you glide to the beach of your choice – Clyde or Meydenbauer Beach.

Be Aware: The water in the fall/winter/spring is frigid—often cradling the 40 degree mark. When forecasting the run look for southerly winds on NOAA at 15-25mph, the higher the better. Rarely does the run get to 40+, but that happens a few times a year when strong fronts move in from the Pacific. I’ve been paddling this run for four years and have yet to see another paddler out on the water in the winter months. If you go on a stormy day be confident that you can take care of yourself. If something goes wrong you’re on your own out there.

Apres-Paddle Eats: Check out Roberto’s on Mercer Island for a pre- or post-run carbo load of spaghetti or pizza.

Where To Get Gear: In Seattle you can rent or buy from Urban Surf located next to Gas Works Park near Lake Union. They have the best local selection of boards and a few planing hulls.