As the name implies, this trail connects the beach on the south side of the point on which Discovery Park sits with the hill above, and joins the Discovery Park Loop Trail.
The trail is a bit more developed than the North Beach trail, but it is still filled with staircases and is a significant drop from the top of the hill to the beach.
Part of the lower trail is paved.
There are three observation platforms along this trail that allow for views through the trees (to a varying degree depending on the particular platform and the time of year) out to Puget Sound and of the West Point light house.
About 1/3 of the way down the hill, there is an opening in the forest that allows a view out to Puget Sound to the south as well, including parts of West Seattle and Alki Point.
As seen in photo 5, the trail parallels the road to the West Point Sewage Plant for a brief period. While the road isn't hugely busy, it is busy enough that it can be noisy and annoying. However, it is only a very short segment of the trail that is like this.
On the north side of Discovery Park, on the Loop Trail you will come to a trail intersection that marks the "North Beach Trial", which is occasionally closed due to small mudslides and other erosion problems.
The trail is gravel for part of the way, is paved at the bottom of the hill by the beach, and between the two is very rough and steep dirt with rocks protruding in places and stairs in a number of places to try to reduce the mud slides on the trail a little bit.
The paved part of the north beach trail can be an interesting place in the winter months due to it being a popular location for the birds that winter on Puget Sound to congregate. Various grebes and the occasional bald eagle are seen with reasonable frequency, and various gull species are very common all year.
At the paved trail at the bottom of the hill, there are several benches along the trail made from large cut logs.
The trail joins the South Beach Trail at the West Point Light House, at the very tip of the park.
This tip is a continuation of a larger tip, which you will find in my Seattle page.
Providing a circle of Discovery Park, mostly through mature forest lands, the Discovery Park Loop Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park. It connects a large number of the other trails in the park. The loop itself is mostly without severe elevation gain, though the connections it has with a few of the other trails can quickly add some steep hills.
The trail has some decent viewpoints on the southwest side of the park.
There are several restroom facilities along the trail, though they are not out in the open. They are set back among the trees.
The trail is mostly gravel for its entire length, and there are a few places on the south side that are fitted with short stairs. Therefore, it isn't very suitable for those with mobility limitations.
How to Get Here: The loop trail is easiest to find at the two main parking lots. At the visitor's center that is just slightly west of Government Way and Texas Way, you will find that the Loop Trail leaves from the north side of the parking lot, near a sign that shows all the trails in the park.
The south parking lot is entered at Emerson & 43rd. The loop trail crosses the driveway just before the parking area.
Google maps currently shows the Loop Trail, so named on the map of the park.
Bus routes are #33 and #24. #33 is more direct from downtown Seattle and has its nearest stop at Government Way & Texas Way, and #24 wanders through Magnolia a little bit before arriving at the south parking lot. #33 also has its end of route in the park, and to get to the loop trail from that stop it is necessary to search for a small bark dust trail on the uphill side of the parking area where this bus stop is located. This is a short branch trail that leads uphill to the Loop Trail.
The West Point Lighthouse lies within Discovery Park and is accessed only by walking to it (about 1.5 miles or 2.4 km) unless you have one of those handicapped tags in which case there is a special pass and you may park at a more accessable location.
West Point Lighthouse ushers boats in and out of Elliot Bay and to the Ballard Locks. The lighthouse is only 23 feet (7 m) tall but has been virtually unchanged since its construction in 1881.
In late 2002 the lighthouse was declared surplus by the federal government. Plans are in the works to restore the lighthouse and open it to the public, but I it may be a while before that happens.