The East Lake Sammamish Trail is an important link in the Mountains to Sound Greenway, a 1.5 million–acre landscape stretching from Seattle to Central Washington. Its origins hail from the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway, whose line along the eastern shore of Squak Lake (now Lake Sammamish) greatly aided in the development of Seattle during its brief run in the late 1800s.
Eleven miles of level trail through three suburban cities grant access to the shores of Lake Sammamish. Currently, the trail consists of a total of 6 paved miles, located at either end of the trail, with crushed rock and stone making up the middle sections (plans are under way for these sections to be paved by 2017). Trail sections are closed and paved segment by segment; however, there is a nearby parkway with a wide shoulder. Use caution, and be alert for passing vehicles.
From the NE 70th Street lot in Redmond (adjacent to cafés and a hotel), the trail crosses several streets and a spur trail to massive Marymoor Park, home to an outdoor velodrome. The spur delivers you through the park to the Sammamish River Trail, which then links to the Burke-Gilman Trail stretching into Seattle. Bypassing the spur to Marymoor, head 1.2 miles along the trail to Sammamish Landing, a lovely waterfront park (with a restroom) where you can swim, fish, or stretch out on the grass. If you take the dirt track below the park gazebo, you'll find pocket beaches; you can return to the trail via a short, steep incline.
The tree-lined corridor proceeds above lakefront homes and below the mostly muffled sounds of East Lake Sammamish Parkway NE, with views of the hills across the lake. The paved trail gives way to a 4.8-mile journey on crushed rock. An uphill spur leads to a lot and portable restroom at mile 4.8 (destined to become the fully civilized Inglewood trailhead as development progresses). Enjoy two grassy areas a bit farther south.
The paved trail reappears at SE 43rd Way as you parallel a four-lane road and commercial district. Just before the trail ends across from Gilman Village—an Issaquah retail area comprising historical homes and Issaquah Creek—you might have a clear view of the 14,410-foot Mount Rainier in the crease of the Cascade foothills. If you continue east, you'll intersect with the Issaquah-Preston Trail.
To reach the Redmond trailhead from Interstate 405, take Exit 14. Follow State Route 520 eastbound for 5.5 miles, and take the SR 202/Redmond Way exit. Turn right at the light onto Redmond Way, and go 0.3 mile. Turn right at the first light, NE 70th Street, and find the parking lot on the left adjacent to a shopping center.
To reach the Issaquah trailhead, take I-90 to Exit 17. Follow the ramp to the right. Head south on Front Street N., and go 0.3 mile. Turn right onto NW Gilman Boulevard. After 0.3 mile, turn right onto the narrow street between the trail and the red caboose. Do not park at the boat launch at SE 43rd Way.