Coal Creek Trail (WA)

Washington

Coal Creek Trail (WA) Facts

States: Washington
Counties: King
Length: 3.7 miles
Trail end points: 119th Ave. SE at I-405 (Bellevue) and Red Town trailhead at Lakemont Blvd. SE and Newcastle Golf Club Rd. (Newcastle)
Trail surfaces: Ballast, Dirt, Grass, Woodchips
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6031328
Trail activities: Walking

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Coal Creek Trail (WA) Description

The Coal Creek Trail offers trail users a wealth of coal history, fitness, and nature in a forested fish and wildlife habitat, with interpretive signs that highlight the relics to be found along the 3.7-mile soft-mulch route.

Moderate and flat terrain defines the 2.5-mile eastern segment, while continuous hills comprise the lower 1.2 miles. Boardwalks, stairs, bridges, and benches add not only safety and ease in a fairly dense forest but also artistry and impressive engineering.

From the Red Town trailhead, the trail extends into a history of coal mining beginning in the 1860s. In 1917, this multiethnic community of 1,000 people produced 360,000 tons of coal. The Seattle and Walla Walla coal trains carried their loads to the coal docks, where the coal was shipped to San Francisco. Though the rail never reached past Coal Creek, Seattle developed as a port city.

The trail begins across the street from the parking lot of Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. Once inside the deep forest, you'll find a sealed mine shaft and a short loop exposing a coal seam. The trail crosses a bridge, where a group of log benches, rust colored from the iron salts leached from coal, faces the North Fork Falls. The route continues through thick and diversely populated forest and past a cedar flume and coal bunker foundations.

The narrow trail diverts from the railroad grade due to man-made hills of coal tailings (discarded rock). One mile in, if you take the 0.8-mile Primrose Trail, you'll pass the site of the old locomotive turntable. Switching back down (creek side), you'll cross three bridges before you loop back to the main trail. Wildflowers, snails, and butterflies; the tiny Sandstone Falls; and a pair of coal car axles are all visible along this part of the trail.

The main trail descends 500 feet, with occasional slippery and muddy sections. Neighborhood access trails can be found along the level creek-side section, along with a retention pond and a fish ladder (a structure that helps fish migrate around barriers). Under Coal Creek Parkway is a 1.1-mile lower trail with a fairly steep series of hills frequented by runners. You'll pass a spur up to a tiny lot at SE 60th Street as you reach the end at 119th Avenue SE.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the eastern endpoint, take Interstate 90, Exit 13. Drive south on Lakemont Boulevard SE for 3.1 miles. Slow down to look for the entrance to the Red Town trailhead, located on the left side of the road at the start of a sharp curve. The Coal Creek east trailhead is located 0.4 mile beyond Red Town, on the right.

To reach the Coal Creek Trailhead from I-405, take Exit 10, and follow Coal Creek Parkway SE for 1.3 miles east. Just after the light at Forest Drive, turn left into the lot. Note: No parking exists at the western endpoint of the lower trail. This section is served by a bus.

Coal Creek Trail (WA) Reviews

On a recent trip over from Spokane, I found this epic trail. Totally what I was looking for. Was able to run through lush wooded area and only 10 minutes from concrete overload! I suggest parking at the Upper Coal Creek Trailhead. Epic

We took 2-6 year olds and 2-9 year olds and they got a little tired but not bad. Beautiful and nice wide paths.

Nice hike in a ravine between two house developments. It is in desperate need for some restoration in parts as there are super slick down hills and mud pits and what not. Bring your wellies if it's been raining! Moderately difficult with some longer up hills but nothing too crazy.

Accordion

Never knew this delightful trail existed. It winds thru beautiful , verdant hills and is never far from a variety of creeks and waterfalls. Easy to connect to the Cougar Mountain trail complex on the Red Town end.

Take a moment and read the good info board about 200 yards in from the Red Town trailhead, and read up on all the coal train history. Turns out, the whole trail is covered in history that makes the hike more fun.

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