Suburban sprawl gives way to deep forest and rural farm lots as this rail-trail follows an uphill grade from Issaquah to the outskirts of Preston. The Issaquah–Preston Trail is among a group of trails in the Mountains to Sound Greenway that link Seattle and its eastern suburbs with Eastern Washington. It roughly follows the original route of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway that was purchased by Northern Pacific at the close of the 19th century and was completely inactive by the early 1980s.
The Issaquah-Preston Trail begins at a junction with the East Lake Sammamish Trail, about 0.2 mile north of the latter trail's Issaquah endpoint. Starting as a paved trail, the Issaquah-Preston Trail crosses East Lake Sammamish Parkway at a crosswalk and traffic light and then proceeds uphill, where its role as a commuter and recreation route is evident. To reach Preston, you'll follow the left fork at a trail junction and enter a short tunnel; the right fork ascends to homes, stores, and offices in the Issaquah Highlands development.
Another trail junction confronts visitors after the tunnel. The left branch proceeds to Preston, while the right heads downhill to historic downtown Issaquah. The paved surface ends after the second trail fork, and the subsequent packed dirt and gravel trail can be uneven and muddy at times. It becomes a wide forest path canopied by second-growth Douglas firs and western red cedars as it passes through a section of Grand Ridge Park while noisy Interstate 90 traffic rolls past downhill. Nearly 10 miles of popular mountain biking trails in the 1,300-acre forest can be reached from the Coal Mine and Grand Ridge trailheads (maps are displayed on posts) in this section.
Passing through the forest, the path crosses a classic wooden bridge over East Fork Issaquah Creek and emerges at a small parking lot on SE High Point Way. Across this road, the trail continues as a gravel path sandwiched between Issaquah Creek and I-90. It is screened from the freeway by landscaping in places, and visitors can glimpse some farm lots to the north.
The Issaquah-Preston Trail ends as it crosses another wooden bridge and arrives at a two-way cycle track on the wide shoulder of SE High Point Way. The historic mill and railroad town of Preston—with restrooms, a market, a sports park, and the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail—is located about a mile to the east along the marked bike route.
To reach the Issaquah trailhead, take I-90 to Exit 17. Head south on Front Street N, and turn right onto NW Gilman Boulevard. In 0.3 mile, turn right onto an unnamed narrow street between the East Lake Sammamish Trail and a red caboose. You can park adjacent to the Issaquah-Preston Trail 0.2 mile ahead, on the street.
To reach the Preston-Snoqualmie trailhead, take I-90 to Exit 22. Head east on SE 82nd Street, and turn right at the T onto SE High Point Way. Go two blocks, and turn left onto SE 87th Place. A parking lot is on the left. The trail is 1.5 miles west via the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail and SE High Point Way.
To reach the SE High Point Way parking lot, take I-90 to Exit 20. Head east on SE High Point Way for 1.5 miles, and look for the lot on the right.