Yay for interconnected bike trails!

  • Day 2, July 16: 65.2 miles, total miles: 79.6 – bike on regional trails and a few city streets
  • Parks, Trails, & Places of Significance: Interurban Route, Burke-Gilman Trail, Sammamish River Trail, North Creek Trail, Tolt Pipeline Trail, Snoqualmie Valley Trail, Lake Union Park, Wilmot Gateway Park, Snoqualmie Falls

Today we enjoyed a selection of trails that link our neighborhood in Seattle to North Bend (and beyond!). We were mostly on trails for our entire ride, except at the start, a construction detour, and connecting in with Snoqualmie Valley Trail.

I so admire the vision of the many planners, rail trail enthusiasts, and others who pieced this network together. And the efforts continue! The King County Parks regional trails map has been really helpful to our planning the route for this day and it was impressive to see the trail systems across our region.

We took the Interurban Route to the Burke-Gilman Trail to the Sammamish River Trail to the Tolt Pipeline Trail to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. We took a side excursion up the North Creek Trail to a northern point of the Greenway (the northern boundary follows the country line, so there are many options).

In the 1970s this trail network from Snoqualmie Pass to Puget Sound and downtown Seattle was a vision of King County planners and local conservationists. Forty some years later, it’s a reality and one that I gained perspective and appreciation for while preparing for this trip. What can take a day to ride was decades in the making.

Recently, I read Mountains to Sound: The Creation of a Greenway Across the Cascades by Daniel Jack Chasan and leaned a little about others who pieced together this route long before Gabriel and I did:

A King County planning employee named Stan Unger thought it would be fun to actually walk the proposed route, and in the rainy August of 1975, Unger spent five days hiking from Discovery Park to the pass. He walked railroad tracks from Seattle, followed the Tolt Pipeline Trail to the Snoqualmie Valley, hiked another abandoned railroad line – acquired but not yet developed by King County – up the valley to Snoqualmie Falls. Beyond North Bend Unger took logging roads north of I-90 into the mountains (trains still ran on the racks south of the freeway, and he never imagined that route they ran over would become a trail), then followed hiking trails into what is now the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Thanks Mr. Unger and many others for your efforts!

It was another hot day and we greatly appreciated the shady corridors (yay trees!) along all of the trails as the shade made the riding easier. Overall, a pretty smooth day. And a first for Gabriel: riding more than 60 miles in one go.

Highlights included seeing so many people out enjoying trails, seeing people cooling off in the Tolt and Snoqualmie Rivers, watching a fly fisherman cast in the river, stopping to admire Snoqualmie Falls, views of Mt. Si, and having our friend Andy greet us with slices of watermelon when we got to his house!

There were many places that we could have explored (at the top of my wish list: any of the charming farms of the Snoqualmie Valley, Three Forks Natural Area and Scott’s Dairy Freeze in North Bend) but with the warmer than normal temps and staying mindful of the overall endeavor, we deferred explorations. One more reason that we’re calling this trip the “infinity loop”: there’s always something else to explore in the Greenway!

This time the journey starts from our own front door (okay the door to the parking garage). Gabriel and his bike are ready. They look so clean and shiny.

As usual, the Fremont Bridge is up when we get to it. We took the opportunity to apply sunscreen.

A mural I’ve been meaning to share with Sarah. I’ve been riding by it once a month this spring while taking the Burke-Gilman to “nature class” at the Mountaineers.

Enjoying the shady path along the Burke-Gilman.

Mukmuk is happy to be at Matthews Beach along Lake Washington. He wants to know where are all the polar bear plungers?  Matthews Beach Park was the site of an important gathering in the 1970s to establish the then Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad ROW as the Burke-Gilman Trail. The Burke-Gilman was one of the first prominent rails-to-trails conversions in the US. It’s also a great park for swimming on a hot summer day.

Mukmuk celebrates making it to a point on the northern boundary of the Mountains to Sound Greenway somewhere in Bothell in between suburban business parks – along the North Creek Trail.

Gabriel studies the King County Trails map while enjoying shade along the Sammamish River Trail.

Cute, informative signs about practicing good trail etiquette. I’d read about these KCDNRP signs, it was fun to see them in action!

Riding up the Tolt Pipeline Trail. This part of the day was knowledge fully realized: Following the contours of lakes or rivers requires less elevation gain (& sweat and sunscreen-induced tears) than crossing the divide of watershed boundaries. Somewhere in these hills we crossed from the Cedar-Lake Washington watershed to the Snoqualmie-Snohomish watershed.

Mukmuk was VERY happy to make it to the Carnation Market. He got to consume cold beverages and inhale salty calories.

We made sure to take a stop to admire the mist rising up from Snoqualmie Falls. The falls are an iconic tourist draw in the region and one Gabriel had never been to. I grew up visiting the falls with family – but it had been a while since I stopped to pay them respect. The area surrounding the Snoqualmie Falls has been influenced by the important work of Forterra, an organization I worked for and admire very much, as part of the Snoqualmie Preservation Initiative. For the Snoqualmie people this is a sacred place for gathering and meeting. It’s where heaven and earth meet, where the Two Sisters Returned. The mist from the falls carries prayers between heaven and earth.

Riding on to North Bend, we were treated to views of Mt. Si.