Many trail choices in Washington state
Saturday is Opening Day for Trails, an annual event created by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to celebrate thousands of miles of trails — including 22,000 miles of rail-trails — across the US.
Of course, trails are open year-round. This is just the non-profit’s way of encouraging people to start the spring right by getting outdoors.
In fact, those who sign a pledge to celebrate Opening Days for Trails will qualify for a contest that is giving away Fuji bikes, Yakima racks, or Camelbak packs as prizes. People can hit the trails on their own, or join one of the Opening Day for Trails events listed here.
Epicenter of rail-trails
Ever since I arrived in the Seattle area 15 years ago, I’ve incorporated the local network of rail-trails in my bike rides. In fact, I’ve come to regard this area as an unofficial and unscientific epicenter for rail-trails in the West, if not the US.
Washington state has 1,059 miles of rail-trails and multi-use trails. (That doesn’t include hiking trails like the Pacific Crest Trail or the hundreds of foot paths that poke into every corner of the National Parks and National Forests in the state.)
That exceeds the trail mileage in Oregon (295), California (739), Idaho (408), Nevada (97), Arizona (62), Utah (147), and Montana (179).
States with more trail mileage than Washington include Minnesota (2,337), Wisconsin (1,800), Michigan (2,364), and Pennsylvania (1,749).
Two trails run more than 100 miles, making them among the nation’s longest. The John Wayne Pioneer Trail weighs in at 253 miles, the longest in the nation. The Columbia Plateau Trail runs 130 miles across eastern Washington.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy lists the Top 10 Trails in Washington state.
In addition, King County (Seattle) boasts 175 miles of what they call regional trails, those that can be used by bicyclists, pedestrians, and equestrians. It’s one of the most extensive county trail systems in the nation.
Regional trails include the Burke Gilman, Cedar River, East Lake Sammamish, North and South Interurban, and Snoqualmie Valley trails, which are all rail-trails. The Green River, Sammamish River, Soos Creek trails and Marymoor Connectors are other regional trails that didn’t get their start as railroads.
There are other county trails as well, including the Preston-Snoqualmie Rail Trail and the newly opened Cross Kirkland Corridor.
The list doesn’t include the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, the nation’s longest trail that stretches from North Bend to the Idaho border. It’s actually overseen by the state parks department, but the western 22 miles run through King County from Rattlesnake Lake to the 2.3-mile Snoqualmie Tunnel.
See the downloadable online map of King County’s Regional Trails.