The Cedar River Trail follows the old Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad corridor on a straight, flat shot out of the sprawling Seattle metro area and into the rural countryside.
Beginning at the edge of Renton's historic downtown, the trail rolls upstream along the fast-flowing Cedar River to Landsburg Park. The first 11 miles of the trail, stretching just past the Maple Valley trailhead, are paved. There, the surface turns to packed gravel, and the path begins a winding course through a forested setting to its terminus in Landsburg, about 5 miles away.
The paved trail starts about a block from the Renton Historical Museum and passes through an open field that, a century ago, housed brick- and conduit-maker Denny–Renton Clay & Coal Co. All that remains today are scattered bricks in the blackberry thickets. Be aware of the trail's 10-mile-per-hour bicycle speed within Renton city limits (violators face a fine up to $101); additionally, trail users on foot and wheel must stay on their side of the yellow line.
After passing Ron Regis Park, the trail leaves the city limits and is sandwiched between the scenic Cedar River and busy State Route 169/Maple Valley Highway. The river, filled with old snags, meanders through the valley and washes against high sandy bluffs. In the fall, you'll witness a colorful spectacle as thousands of sockeye salmon head up the river to spawn. The bright-red salmon are easily seen from trestles or the scattered county-owned natural areas that dot the river's edge. One such natural area, named Cavanaugh Pond, also is a year-round destination for spotting waterfowl.
The trail becomes packed gravel after it passes the Maple Valley trailhead. This soft-surface path winds through groves of Douglas fir, western red cedar, bigleaf maple, and alder on the way to the Landsburg trailhead.
Back where the trail turns to gravel, you'll pass the 3.5-mile Green-to–Cedar Rivers Trail, another gravel rail-trail also known as the Lake Wilderness Trail. It heads up a small hill to Maple Valley's secluded Wilderness Lake and the 42-acre Lake Wilderness Arboretum. The route passes through residential Maple Valley and behind a commercial area at Kent–Kangley Road and Maple Valley Black Diamond Road/SR 169. The Green-to-Cedar Rivers Trail ends at a railroad crossing but reappears a couple of blocks later as a mountain bike, equestrian, and hiking trail in the Black Diamond Natural Area, where many paths wind through the old conifers.
To reach the western end, take Interstate 405, Exit 4. From the north, the exit becomes Sunset Boulevard N. At 0.4 mile, turn right onto Bronson Way N. From the south, follow signs for SR 900/Bronson Way. After 0.3 mile on Bronson Way N., turn left onto Mill Avenue S. Proceed through an intersection with Houser Way S., and immediately turn left at a sign for Cedar River Trail and Cedar River Dog Park. Parking is on the left.
To reach the eastern end from I-405, take Exit 4. Follow SR 169 southeast for 10 miles. Turn left onto SE 216th Way, and go 3.1 miles. Turn right onto 276th Avenue SE/Landsburg Road SE, and go 2.4 miles. The trailhead is on the right, immediately before crossing the Cedar River.