View of Seattle Skyline, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and Cascade Mountains
Bhy Kracke Park is deeply tucked away in a residential neighborhood on the southeast slope of Queen Anne. If you want to view the city but aren’t keen on the crowds at Kerry Park then this “secret” viewpoint can serve as an alternative.
The park is named for Werner “Bhy” Kracke who once lived here and donated the land to the city to preserve the view. Werner’s nickname was Bhy because with his last name it was pronounced “by cracky,” which was one of his favorite expressions. The park is pronounced the same way, not “buy crack.”
Since the expression is no longer in common use (it was popular in the late 1800s and first half of the 1900s in the US) I figured I might as well explain it for the youngsters while we’re here. “By cracky” is a euphemistic oath (a different word is inserted instead of “God” or “Christ” to make it acceptable) used to express surprise or emphasis, similar to “by golly” or “by gosh.”
“By cracky, that’s a mighty fine view!”
The viewpoint is difficult to find if you don’t know where to look. The easiest way to get here is to look for the intersection of Highland Drive and Bigelow Avenue. Turn north onto Bigelow. Once you’re on Bigelow, the first street on your right will be Comstock Place. It’s at a sharp angle to Bigelow, narrow, and a dead end. Turn right onto Comstock anyway, the park is down there I promise.
A caution though. If you have a larger than normal vehicle you might find things a bit tight. There is no turnaround at the end of the street, so even average size passenger cars sometimes have to do a little maneuvering to get out again. You definitely don’t want to go down Comstock if you’re in an RV. If you’re in doubt you can park on Bigelow and walk down to the viewpoint.
There are only two (maybe three) official parking spaces at the viewpoint. Even though the park is rarely busy it’s not unusual for the spaces to be taken. I ended up parking a bit further down at the end of the street at the curb. Probably not a legal space, but since traffic is almost non-existent and I wasn’t going to be long I figured I could get away with it.
The viewpoint has a lawn area at the upper west end with two benches. The lawn extends down in a strip at the edge of the hill. Next to the street and at the east end is a raised brick-paved section with low cement walls and two more benches.
If you are in a wheelchair and want to get to the lower portion of the viewpoint you need to use the paved path next to the parking spaces. At the east end both paths have steps but it’s not obvious until you go down there.
The view is to the east and south. It’s not an unobstructed view because of treetops. Buildings and the hill completely block the view to the west and northeast.
From here you can see a few Cascade peaks, Capitol Hill, the south end of Lake Union, and the downtown skyline including most of the Space Needle. The view isn’t as impressive as at Kerry Park, and you can’t see Tahoma (Mt. Rainier) from here at all, but some people actually prefer this one.
The view is best in afternoons in winter when leaves are off the trees and snow is on the mountains. Though if you are here to specifically photograph the Space Needle morning light is better. While the view is best in winter because it’s the least obstructed then, the park itself is prettiest in spring when bushes and trees are blooming, and the view is more colorful in autumn when the leaves change.
The viewpoint is only one small part of the park. A paved path switchbacks down the steep hillside, with little nooks with views along the way. At the bottom of the hill is an area with grass, a children’s playground, and a picnic table under a wisteria arbor.
This bottom section of the park is on 5th Avenue and is most easily accessed by parking on that street, just north of Highland Drive. If you are spry enough to climb the hill, you might want to park down there even for visiting the viewpoint because parking on 5th tends to be more reliably available.
Bhy Kracke Park doesn’t have the wide and iconic view of Seattle and Elliott Bay that Kerry Park does, but it’s a pretty good territorial view and you can see different stuff from here.
If you’re going to be visiting viewpoints on Queen Anne then you should include this one as part of your outing even though it’s a little trickier to get to. And if you’re keeping a list of “secret” viewpoints to impress friends and out-of-town guests with then this one should definitely go on the list.
Things to Know
4:30 am to 11:30 pm
Four benches and no picnic tables at the viewpoint. Also low cement walls that can serve as benches.
One bench and one picnic table at the lower playground.
Two or three official parking spaces at the top end of the viewpoint. Availability is unpredictable.
If the spaces are full you can get away with parking by the curb in front of the viewpoint as long as you don’t plan to stay long.
Street parking on 5th Avenue by the playground in the lower section of the park. Parking here is usually fairly easy to come by.
Bhy Kracke Park is used almost exclusively by locals, with an occasional viewpoint hunter thrown into the mix. The park is used regularly but sporadically.
I was here on a cloudy January weekday afternoon and had the place to myself for the twenty minutes I spent at the viewpoint. That’s not unusual because of the hidden nature of the park. But locals do pass through randomly during the day, especially those walking their dogs. On nice days people sometimes set up on the lawn or along the hillside path to stay for a while.
South Lake Union, downtown Seattle, Space Needle.
Best light: afternoon in general, though early morning light is best for the Space Needle, twilight.