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Kiteboarding And Windsurfing At Magnuson Park In Seattle

Kiteboarding and windsurfing at Magnuson Park in Seattle

Magnuson Park in Seattle is one of my favorite ! For ExtraHyperActive folks like myself, the park offers an abundance of adventures : climbing, kayaking, sailing, paddleboarding, and for the past few years, has become a popular launch spot for kiteboarding and windsurfing.

The second largest park in Seattle, this 350-acre expanse boasts a mile-long stretch of Lake Washington shoreline.

Windsurfers of all levels of expertise enjoy the lake's small, but ever-regular waves. The best southerly winds are during winter and spring months. If the wind is from the southwest, a few trees just south of the park's windsurfing launch can produce a narrow wind shadow.

Windsurfing at Magnuson Park in Seattle

Windsurfing at Magnuson Park in Seattle

There are two launch spots for windsurfers : 

Enter the park at N.E. 65th Street and Sand Point Way N.E. Go straight ahead to the lake. The windsurfing launch is just south of the boat ramp. Set up your rigging on the grassy area nearby.


At Sail Sand Point boating center ( Sand Point Way NE at NE 74th St ).

As for kiteboarding ( kite surfing ), Magnuson park is best left for more experienced riders :

Kiteboarding at Magnuson Park in Seattle

Kiteboarding at Magnuson Park in Seattle

From pskite.org

Magnuson Park is rideable on southerly storm winds which can boast every wind condition you would ever experience. Because it is usually a pre and post-frontal storm location, the winds can sometimes be gusty and unpredictable. Once in a while when the clouds break and wind remains it can make for a very steady session. The wind direction needs to be SSW to SSE to maintain a side-shore to side-on-shore condition. The 520 Bridge sensor is utilized for speed and direction (note this sensor is currently out of calibration on the direction by about 20 degrees, an indicated SW wind is really an actual SSW wind direction) along with the DOT web camera for a visual of the water conditions. The topography of this location creates wind shadows within the launch/land zone on winds with a westerly gradient beyond a SW direction. When the 520 Bridge sensor is sustaining 17 mph or above Maggie is usually kiteable and whitecaps should be visible on the right side (south) of the camera view providing an idea of the current conditions. A NOAA Puget Sound forecast of S or SW 15-25 is ideal although it will sometimes blow on a forecast of S or SW 10-15.


Maggie is on Lake Washington so there are no tides or currents. The water is usually choppy and swell will form during the higher wind speeds. The water can get very warm in the summer (when there is no wind to kite it) to very cold in the winter. It gets colder than Puget Sound so be prepared with the appropriate gear.

Rig and Launch

The common rigging area is the grassy spot just to the south of the parking lot and west of the foot path. Inflate your kite here and run your lines out east towards the water (across the foot-path is fine but be courteous of passers-by as they have the right-of-way). The launch here is one of the more technical ones in Seattle but with proper instruction and assistance it can be done safely. It is, although, not recommended for beginners and there are some important safety precautions to consider as there are no other launching options (although it looks like there are) due to wind shadows from the surrounding trees. Please note it is EXTREMELY important to have a hold down when launching at Maggie as the parking lot and picnic shelter are directly downwind. This site requires an up-and-over launch with someone holding your kite along the west tree line while you stand along the east tree line. The wind can pulsate through the initial launch area so wait for a pull then slowly steer your kite up overhead. Have your hold-down assistant walk with you to the water’s edge with your board. The thin tree-line at this point can shadow the wind a bit so be sure to pass your kite through this area to 45 degrees over the water (3 o’clock) then body drag out at least one line length before donning your board and riding away. When coming back in to this area to land your kite, try to have someone catch your kite on the shore-side grass while you’re still in the water. Bring your kite from 12 o’clock to 9 o’clock into the wind-shadow and onto the grass. If, while kiting, you find yourself downwind of the launch/land zone you can come in just before the swim dock upwind of Sand Point. This area is shallow enough to stand and land or drop your kite water-side for self-retrieval. Be sure to come in south of Sand Point as there is no wind penetration near the shore north of this area.


Be aware of the sometimes gusty and strong winds at Magnuson Park. Please do not self-launch at this site and if at all possible have a hold-down while launching and walking to the water. A fifth-line (if properly understood) can be very useful at this location. If you have a problem on the water, do your best to self-rescue to shore south of Sand Point. If you miss the point, the wind drops and you can end up on the other side of the lake in Juanita which could require some hitch-hiking.

Proximity to The Burke-Gilman Trail makes the park easily accessible by bike, and both ( the park and the trail ) are great for biking, running, and land paddling. Besides outdoor adventures, the park offers a variety of sports like soccer, football, tennis, and Frisbee ( if you call it a sport :)).

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