The envelope please: And the top 10 trails in Washington state are…

Facebook Twitter More...

All February long, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy featured trails in Washington state on its trail blog and other social media outlets.

Olympic Discovery Trail

Olympic Discovery Trail

Then the trail advocacy nonprofit closed out the month by naming the Top 10 Trails in the Evergreen State, based on suggestions from its members and readers.

The results may not be as celebrated as the Academy Awards tonight, but I’m sure that trail-riding bicyclists are just as keen to know the results.

1. John Wayne Pioneer Trail

2. Spokane River Centennial Trail / Centennial Trail State Park

3. Olympic Discovery Trail

4. Chehalis Western Trail

5. Foothills Trail

6. Burke-Gilman Trail

7. Snohomish Centennial Trail

8. Interurban Trail (north and south of Seattle)

9. Green River Trail

10. Cedar River Trail

This is a good list, and I can’t really argue with any results. I’ve ridden my bicycle on all but the Chehalis Western Trail; an omission I plan to rectify as soon as I can get down there.

All but the Spokane River Centennial Trail (and part of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail) are located west of the Cascades. In fact, at least half are within a 30- to 40-minute drive of Seattle.

These trails close-in to Seattle get lots of bicycle traffic — both from commuters and recreational cyclists. They also get their share of folks walking dogs and pushing strollers.

Interurban Trail in Snohomish County

Interurban Trail in Snohomish County

Even though the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy created the list, not all the trails are follow the former corridors of heavy trains.

The Interurban Trails are former passenger trolley lines, one heading between Seattle and Everett to the north and the other rolling between Seattle and Tacoma to the south. Neither of those destinations from Seattle are an uninterrupted trail system yet, but long sections are complete.

And the Green River Trail between Tukwila and Kent is a paved trail atop a levee. We know that when it was covered in sandbags for several years when the Green River was in danger of flooding.

There are many other trails that could have been added to the list. Among the rail-trails I know first-hand are the Snoqualmie Valley Regional Trail, the East Lake Sammamish Trail, and the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail.

Sammamish River Trail

Sammamish River Trail

Other popular trails that are not rail-trails include the Sammamish River Trail, the Tolt Pipeline Trail and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trail. Both are open to hikers, bikers and equestrians.

It’s wonderful that old rail-lines — or trolley-lines or utility right-of-ways — can be repurposed. The groups that advocate for these trails deserve our support.


Permanent link to this article:


  1. Gene,

    I may be wrong, but I think much of the Sammamish River Trail is old rail right-of-way. The plaque in Issaquah by the old depot maps the old route to Seattle prior to the bridges over Lake Washington.

  2. Hey Kent,

    As I understand it, the old rail right-of-way between Redmond and Seattle is now that proposed Redmond Central Connector that’s part of the Eastside Rail Corridor acquired from the BNSF. Originally, it was built in the 1880s by the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway. Now, the Burke-Gilman and East Lake Sammamish trails are among those that follow that corridor.

    The way it was explained to me, the Sammamish River Trail is basically an access road built atop the levee when the river was straightened during the early 1900s and the 1960s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.