What are your favorite trails in Washington state? Inquiring minds at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy want to know.
Actually, the nonprofit trails advocacy group has been featuring Washington trails all month long on its social media, including the RTC TrailBlog. To wrap up, they’d like our input on a “10 Best” blog post at the end of the month.
You can either leave a comment at “Question of the month: Which trails are the Top 10 trails in Washington state?” or send an email directly to Amy Kapp, managing editor of Rails to Trails magazine at email@example.com.
This will be a harder job than it may seem. There are 77 rail-trails in the state of Washington that criss-cross the state for 1,051 miles.
I don’t want to influence the voting, but here are my favorite trails. It’s limited by the unfortunate fact that I haven’t ridden my bicycle on all the rails-to-trails in Washington.
John Wayne Pioneer Trail – Runs clear across Washington from Cedar Falls near North Bend to the Idaho border. The 100 or so mile within the Iron Horse State Park is the best maintained with a crushed rock surface and several trailheads with facilities. It passes through five tunnels, including the 2-mile-long Snoqualmie Tunnel. Campsites.
Olympic Discovery Trail — A work in progress, the route connect Port Townsend on the Puget Sound with the Pacific Ocean. Planning information is in place for the 126-mile trail, and more than 53 miles are complete. Campsites.
Foothills Trail — A fully paved trail that winds for about 15 miles through the Pierce County countryside between a trailhead east of Puyallup to South Prairie. The town of Orting is a halfway point for refueling, and the eastern half of the ride rolls beside a glacier fed river. Mount Rainier is continuously in sight.
Centennial Trail (Snohomish County) — A popular 30-mile-long rail-trail that runs north-south between the town of Snohomish and the Skagit County border. It’s fully paved and arrives in historic Arlington about midway. Supporters have erected historic signs along the route, and the county has acquired more right-of-way to connect with King County to the south.
Centennial Trail (Spokane) — Runs for 37 miles between the Idaho border and Nine Mile Falls. The paved trail runs right along the spectacular Spokane River through downtown Spokane. The western reaches wind through steep ravines along the river. See the article at Trailblog.
Snoqualmie Valley Regional Trail – Runs for 32 miles from Duval in the north to Rattlesnake Lake and the trailhead of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Along the way it passes the spectacular Snoqualmie Falls and passes through the towns of Snoqualmie and North Bend. There’s a 1-to-2-mile gap in the middle.
Burke-Gilman Trail — The granddaddy of rail-trails runs for 20 miles through Seattle’s urban landscape. First section opened in 1978. Highlights of the paved trail include Golden Gardens Park on the Puget Sound, Ballard, Fremont, Gas Works Park, the University District and views of Lake Washington. One notorious missing link in Ballard.
Cedar River Trail — This 17-mile trail between Renton and Landsburg run also the Cedar River. Fall is the best time to visit, when chinook salmon are battling their way upstream and the leaves are turning in the county natural areas along the route. On the downside is the traffic noise from Hwy. 169 between Renton and Maple Valley.
May Creek Trail — A little known trail along May Creek in Newcastle, it follows the right-of-way of the old Seattle-Walla Walla Railroad for about 3 miles. I like it because it’s close enough to my home that I can use it as a detour when I’m running errands. It’s packed dirt and ends abruptly at some stairs where the 1,100-foot-long wooden trestle spanned May Creek 200 feet below.
There are plenty of other rail-trails in Washington that I haven’t ridden, but hope to some day. They include the Chehalis Western Trail, Yelm-Tenino Trail, and the Columbia-Plateau Trail.