Magazine picks 20 best bike paths — 3 are in Washington state

The Sammamish River Trail in Redmond, pictured above last fall, leads a list of 20 best bicycle paths in western states chosen by Sunset magazine.

Also on the list from Washington state are No. 8 Spokane River Centennial Trail in Spokane and No. 19 Burke Gilman Trail in Seattle.

California led the list with 7 bicycle paths (see below).

As is so often the case in the “best of” articles in magazines, there’s no mention of the criteria used to choose or rank these bike paths.

The Sammamish River Trail, for instance, at 11 miles is nowhere near the longest. In fact, it seamlessly connects to the Burke Gilman Trail, which barely makes the top 20. In the description of the trail, the authors talk about the nearby Woodinville wineries and the Red Hook Brewery it passes as big amenities.

Old list

The “best bike paths” idea tickled my memory cells, and I searched the BikingBis archives to find Sunset magazine ranking the top 10 bike paths in 2006.

The Sammamish River Trail didn’t even make the list that year, nor did the Centennial Trail in Spokane. The Burke-Gilman ranked No. 9. The top bike trail that year — Paseo Del Bosque in Albuquerque, NM — now ranks No. 11.

Even though the criteria are a little murky, these types of lists provide some entertainment value and get us thinking about what makes a good bike trail (see comments at Seattle Bike Blog). There are probably a dozen bike paths you could choose from Washington state that could legitimately end up on this list, and 100 from the western states.

Here’s the 2012 list:

1. Sammamish River Trail, Redmond, WA
2. Springwater Corridor, Oregon
3. Iron Horse Regional Trail, Concord, CA
4. Provo River Parkway, Provo, UT
5. Bayshore Bikeway, San Diego, CA
6. Platte River Trail, Denver, CO
7. American River trail, Sacramento, CA
8. Spokane River Centennial Trail, Spokane, WA
9. Peavine and Iron King Trails, Prescott, AZ
10. Ojai Valley Trail, Ojai, CA
11. Paseo Del Bosque Trail, Albuquerque, NM
12. Boulder Creek Path, Boulder, CO
13. Cherry Creek Trail, Denver. CO
14. South Bay Bicycle Trail, Los Angeles, CA
15. Willamette River Loop, Portland, OR
16. Jordan River Parkway Trail, Salt Lake City, UT
17. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA
18. Los Gatos Creek Trail, Los Gatos, CA
19. Burke Gilman Trail, Seattle, WA
20. Rio Salado Paths, Tempe, AZ


Update: As I was writing this, I was surprised that no trails appeared on the list from Idaho. Then I ran across a global list for “12 most beautiful paths — no car required” at MSNBC.

It includes the Route of the Hiawatha, a bike trail that runs through the Bitterroot Mountains in Idaho and Montana.

It’s one of only two cycling trails included on the list. The other is Route des Grands Crus through the Burgundy region of France.

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  1. None in VA :(

    • Jack on June 8, 2012 at 3:55 am
    • Reply

    None in MO either – all out west. The Katy Trail along the MO river (KC to StL) is nice but a dust bowl as it is not paved.

  2. I think that Sunset magazine just covers west of the Rocky Mountain states. If it did the whole country, I’m sure the Virginia Creeper trail could have made the list, as would the Katy Trail. Although looking at the list again, all the trails that I’m familiar with on the list are paved. That might have been a prerequisite.

    • MarvinK on July 3, 2013 at 9:04 pm
    • Reply

    If you’re looking for a FANTASTIC paved trail in Idaho, the Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes is amazing. It is a little over 70 miles long, goes along lakes and rivers for most of it, has very few stop signs or crossings, includes a large bike-only bridge over the lake and you’re almost always going to see wildlife.

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