Trail of the Month: February 2005
Sammamish River Trail, Washington
Tenderly wedged between two relatively illustrious Washington rail-trails, the Burke-Gilman and the East Lake Sammamish Trails, lies the noteworthy and unexpected Sammamish River Trail. This 11-mile treasure may seem like an ordinary trail to the untrained eye, as it is not a rail-to-trail conversion, but upon closer consideration you can see that it serves as an intricate link to Seattle's growing trail network as well as a place for fun and recreation.
The Sammamish River Trail is a key player in Washington's efforts to provide an extensive, continuous network of trails that will eventually travel from downtown Seattle to Idaho. At its northern terminus, in Bothell, the trail connects with the 17-mile Burke-Gilman Trail which follows the former Seattle, Lakeshore & Eastern Railroad right-of-way along the Ship Canal. Well known to many cyclists, walkers, skaters and joggers, the trail is heavily used as a recreation and commuter pathway. The Burke-Gilman Trail flows southeast from the Sammamish River Trail along Lake Washington into downtown providing users with views of Seattle's waterfront, city skyline and the gothic architecture of the University of Washington.
To start your journey on the Sammamish River Trail, begin at its northern terminus in Blyth Park. Located in Bothell, the park is the first of five recreational facilities along the paved trail. King County has a plethora of exceptional recreational parks and facilities for its residents to use and each one has a unique quality. Blyth Park is no exception; it has one of the most outstanding views of northern Lake Washington. Before leaving this rest area make sure to visit the park's dock to experience the setting at its finest. This area is an excellent spot to observe local wildlife like the great blue herons that frequently swoop down into the lake looking for fish, and the occasional deer taking a quick gulp of water.
Those interested in wineries should continue to travel south along the trail through native foliage like Douglas fir, red cedar, Lombardi poplars and cottonwoods to stop at Chateau St. Michelle. This winery is one of the oldest and most prestigious in Washington and offers wine-tasting courses, cooking seminars, dinners and holiday events throughout the year. This area is a very big tourist attraction during the warmer seasons of the year as they also offer a summer concert series.
From Chateau St. Michelle continue south past the Northshore Athletic fields to Sixty Acre Park at mile marker three. This facility, home to the Lake Washington Youth Soccer League, is a great place to catch a game. On any given Saturday you can expect gobs of soccer moms and dads cheering for their kids on any of the 16 different soccer fields. Past the Sixty Acre Park make your way to Redmond. Redmond calls itself the "bicycle capital of the northwest," and proves to be a very scenic and historic area. Currently, the city is renovating 1.3 miles along the river-walk that will connect the Sammamish River Trail with the city's local amenities.
From Redmond travel the trail's final mile to the southern terminus at Marymoor Park. This 640-acre park is visited by more than 3 million people each year for recreational activities and culturally enriching events. The park features one of the largest groups of baseball and soccer fields, four lighted tennis courts, a fitness circuit, a cricket pitch, a rowing facility and an open air outdoor theater for the summer outdoor concert series.
Those interested in continuing your journey beyond the Sammamish River Trail will be happily accommodated as the East Lake Sammamish Trail (ELST) connects to the pathway at Marymoor Park. Unfortunately, at this point in time only the first and last miles are open to the public on the ELST but King County officials estimate that the gravel surface of the nine-mile trail will be finished as early as next year. The ELST will provide users with the opportunity to head up Snoqualmie Pass on the Iron Horse Trail, part of the Mountains-To-Sound Greenway, and further the vision of a connecting network of trails from Seattle to Idaho.