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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 walk on the trail below the picnic shelter, 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.
**Feb 2017 the trail is closed at the south section for maintenance This is a beautiful trail that is paved and gravel. The paved section is at the north most end and the gravel is in the south. The north end, the paved section, also has public restrooms and picnic areas under cover. The south does not. It runs along the edge of the lake and is popular with walkers as well as bicyclists.
Walked the trail south from Inglenook Hill Rd for about 1.5 miles and back. One of the worst walks I can recall. Bushes and brambles on both sides. But just beyond those on the east runs E. Lake Sam Blvd -- very busy and noisy. On the "lake" side (I use the term in quotes, because there are only a few glimpses of the Lake itself) are the garages and back doors of the homes that block the shoreline. In short, it's a noisy, ugly walk with little in terms of redeeming features.
Nice bike ride. Trail is flat, relatively shaded and not very busy except for a few lone walkers. It does get busier the closer to Issaquah you get. The unpaved section is hard packed gravel. I think a road bike would be fine on it but there is also a nice shoulder on the road above it you want to skirt the gravel and then get back on the trail further down the road. Today a section of trail was closed off to a tree being removed. Didnt give you much choices for detours esp if you dont know the area. Some of the driveways/roads that cut across the trail are private and trail access and exit are not allowed so be prepared to call an audible on where to get off the trail and on the road to get around the closed section. Hopefully, they will be done with their work soon and the whole trail will be open.
I took a right and headed to Lake Sammamish St Park when I hit the intersection with the McDonalds on the corner and just stayed on the sidewalk until a side paved trail appeared.
The beautiful natural trail gravel trail has been converted into a paved 'road" ! Bikes racing, surrounded by chain-link fence! Previous it was a prestige level hiking/walking trail with cruising bikers, this sure has changed...
closed at the northend 4/26/15
July 7, 2013
Between the dentist and the rush hour, the TrailBear was able to scamper off to Redmond to try out the north end of the East Lake Sammamish Trail. He parked at the gravel trailhead lot at NE 65th Court and E. Lake Sammamish Parkway NE, assembled the trike and was off. (NOTE: The map shows parking here in the lot for a vet hospital across 65th. Best use the gravel lot.)
They have paved about 1.2 miles of the north end of the trail from the freeway down to a portapotty pit stop on the lake at the bottom of the river delta. It’s a nice ride – a wide, smooth two lane trail, shady in most spots. Then it ends at the portapotty and you are back to the original single lane gravel trail. This is well packed, but the blacktop was so nice.
Down on the Issaquah end “eckart” reports they have over two miles of fresh paving. They also have a lot of free parking at the Lake Sammamish State Park boat launch, which is on the trail.
The start of the gravel can also mark the start of the Not Welcome Zone. The locals did not like the old rail line being converted into a trail. There were fights and lawsuits and then a gravel trail.
Recently the county started to widen and pave the trail. The work is still on-going. County has a sign announcing what they will be doing – which is what they have been doing: Paving, fencing and such.
Geography is not helping. The trail is just below East Lake Sammamish Parkway. On the other side of the trail are lakefront homes, private access gates that lead to docks and moorings, the occasional county park and such. Things are squished here.
Squished means tight parking.. The residents are stuffed between the trail and the shore and there is not much parking to share with roadies, dog walkers, in-line skaters and such. If you are looking for signs of welcome, they read PRIVATE PROPERTY - NO TRESPASSING.
If you are going to try one of the trailheads shown on the map, best to have local knowledge that there is parking there that is not a towing zone and know where to find the turn. Traffic is fast on the parkway and there is little time to poke about for the turn.
A nice stop along the trail on the north end is Sammamish Landing, a lakeside park with two docks, covered picnic shelters, a grassy lawn for whatever and a portapotty pit stop. There are even views.
Views come and go on this trail. Check it out on Google Earth. You are between the parkway and the expensive lots stuffed with expensive homes with lake views. You get to see a lot of garages and the backs of homes. But, hey, it’s an urban trail.
If you really wanted views, you would be on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes or the Route of the Hiawatha in the Idaho panhandle. This is Lake Sammamish, so ride on and enjoy the views.
Paving of the 2.2 miles long south section of East Lake Sammamish Trail is complete and the trail was re-opened on June 12, 2013.
At the south terminus of East Lake Sammamish Trail along Gilman Boulevard in Issaquah there is a map kiosk and a sitting bench, but no designated parking.
Next to the trail head is a Barber Shop in an old, red-painted caboose (you could have your hair cut short or shaved to reduce aerodynamic drag while you ride the trail without a helmet?).
I like East Lake Sammamish Trail the way it is, but some people want to spend a lot of money to pave it with asphalt. The paved 12-foot-wide asphalt trail is much wider than it has to be. This is a waste of resources. Here is the latest announcement:
May 9, 2012
Pavement, other improvements coming to East Lake Sammamish Trail in Issaquah
Year-long closure in Issaquah allows King County to replace soft-surface trail with blacktop, soft-surface shoulders, better street crossings, drainage and more
Upgrades are coming to King County’s East Lake Sammamish Trail (ELST) through Issaquah, including removing the existing gravel trail and constructing a 12-foot-wide asphalt trail with gravel shoulders, installing concrete sidewalk connections, retaining walls, fencing and signage, plus wetland mitigation planting and landscaping.
A 2.2-mile-long stretch of the trail from Northwest Gilman Boulevard to Southeast 43rd Way will be closed to all users during construction, which could take up to one year. The closure is expected to begin May 14.
The extensive scope of work in the trail’s narrow corridor requires complete closure of the trail. Trail users are advised to find alternate routes around the closed portion.
Nearby East Lake Sammamish Parkway features both bike lanes and sidewalks for ELST users who want to travel along the eastern shoreline of the lake and around the closed stretch of trail. Those who simply want to get out on a trail are encouraged to visit other portions of King County’s 175-mile regional trails system during construction.
The upgrades will make the trail accessible to a wider range of users, including bicyclists with narrow tires, inline skaters and others. Upgraded intersection and street crossing treatments will also be installed.
The estimated cost of completing the Issaquah segment is $2.74 million, with funding provided by the 2008-2013 voter-approved King County Open Space and Trails Levy, the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program, and the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.
This project is the second segment of the ELST to be converted from the interim soft-surface trail to the finished master-planned trail. The Redmond segment was completed November 2011, while design of the North Sammamish Segment began December 2011 and construction is expected to begin in 2013.
King County purchased the 11-mile-long East Lake Sammamish rail banked corridor in 1998. An interim soft-surface trail was completed in 2006.
The ELST follows an historic railroad route along the eastern shore of Lake Sammamish within the cities of Redmond, Sammamish and Issaquah. Part of the “Locks to Lakes Corridor,” the trail follows an off-road corridor along the lake and through lakeside communities.
Once the ELST is fully developed, it will be part of a 44-mile-long regional urban trail corridor from Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood to Issaquah. More information is available at www.kingcounty.gov/eastlakesammamishtrail.
A short section at the north end of the trail has been paved and re-opened as of November 2011. You can now ride all the way from Issaquah to Redmond and beyond on this trail without having to use busy streets with narrow shoulders. I was surprised to see how wide the paved path is now. The paving is much wider than necessary, IMHO if the paving was 60% as wide as it is now, it would have been perfectly sufficient for busy weekend traffic in both directions with wheelchairs and baby strollers and bicycles in between.
The other good news is that the City of Sammamish has also almost finished construction of the new Sammamish Landing Park between the East Lake Sammamish Trail (ELST) and Lake Sammamish. There are two picnic shelters with four picnic tables, two BBQ grills, a space for a portable toilet and a short section of walking trail along a meadow. This is a beautiful new addition to the trail and the City of Sammamish should be congratulated to this achievement. That new park is worthwhile to make it a destination when you ride the ELST. See attached photos.
There is no parking anywhere nearby, so the only access is by the ELST.
Went out to see the ELST yesterday between engagements. Perhaps get a ride in. No go on the Redmond end. They certainly are paving. Piles of gravel, heavy equipment, trail heads fenced off, side trail into Marymoor Park closed, etc. Felt quite unwelcomed.
Drove down to the Issaquah end, which is open. Whereupon the Heavens opened. No ride. If you want to ride the ELST, start from the Issaquah end and you can get to within a mile or so of the Redmond end.
Went up I-90 to see what they have done with the Issaquah-Preston Trail. Stops short of the park in Preston, but that is a quiet road with wide shoulders. Not an issue. The lower end crosses the ELST in Issaquah, so you have the option of riding down from Redmond (when the paving is done), up the IPT to Preston, then get on the Preston-Snoqualmie. You can almost, but not quite connect the dots and get onto the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. A bit of road work here and there and you can take a long ride over the local mountains.
Who hates to get his fur wet.
March 3, 2011
East Lake Sammamish Trail paving work requires closure through Redmond stretch
Improvements require trail closure, but several alternatives available
A highly anticipated project to upgrade and pave King County’s East Lake Sammamish Trail (ELST) will require closure of a portion of the popular recreational and commuter corridor for up to nine months beginning this spring.
King County will begin to redevelop the ELST where it runs through Redmond, from Northeast 70th Street to the Redmond-Sammamish border at 187th Street Northeast.
Because of the narrow corridor, limited trail access, topographic constraints and the extensive scope of work, the two-mile-long trail segment will be closed to all trail users during construction.
The project includes replacing the interim soft-surface trail with a wider paved trail that makes it safer and more accessible to bicyclists, skaters and other trail users. Redevelopment includes constructing a 77-stall parking lot at Northeast 70th Street.
Bid opening for construction of the estimated $3 million project is expected later this month. Funding for the work is provided by the 2008-2013, voter-approved Proposition 2 Parks Expansion Levy.
Construction is scheduled to begin in May and last until November. During that time, ELST users will have to find an alternate route around the closed stretch of trail, such as bike lanes, sidewalks along Sammamish Parkway and Redmond Way, the Bear Creek Trail, the Washington State Department of Transportation Trail and Marymoor Park.
King County purchased the 11-mile-long East Lake Sammamish rail banked corridor in 1998 for $2.9 million from the Lands Conservancy of King County and Seattle (now Cascade Land Conservancy), which had preserved the option for public ownership of the trail when it stepped up to purchase the rail corridor from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.
In 2000, the King County Council unanimously approved a plan for interim use of the trail, including fencing, controlling trail crossings and installing an interim surface. The trail was dedicated in March 2006.
The ELST follows an historic railroad route along the eastern shore of Lake Sammamish within the cities of Redmond, Sammamish and Issaquah.
Access to the northern end of the ELST is off Northeast 70th Street in Redmond, near the east side of King County’s Marymoor Park. The trail continues south through Sammamish to Issaquah where it can be accessed via Lake Sammamish State Park's boat launch or Northeast Gilman Boulevard.
The trail is also accessible at numerous locations along its route, although no formal parking areas are currently provided. The ELST intersects with the Issaquah-Preston Trail in Issaquah near I-90, which provides a paved connection east within the Mountains to Sound Greenway Corridor.
East Lake Sammamish Trail is part of King County’s nationally acclaimed regional trail system – a 175-mile-long network of trails for bicycling, hiking, walking and horseback riding. The regional trail system spans an area from Bothell to Auburn and Seattle to the Cascades. The system provides extensive opportunities for recreation and non-motorized mobility and commuting throughout King County. Once the ELST is fully developed, it will be part of a 44-mile-long regional urban trail corridor from Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood to Issaquah.
More information is available at www.kingcounty.gov/eastlakesammamishtrail.
Development of East Lake Sammamish Trail to go ahead
By JAKE LYNCH
Sammamish Reporter Editor
May 30 2010
An analysis of the environmental impacts resulting from a proposed development of the East Lake Sammamish Trail was released on Friday, the latest step in a lengthy process of building a master plan for the trail.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and King County announced the availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the East Lake Sammamish Trail Master Plan, which will ultimately develop the existing 11-mile interim use trail on the east side of Lake Sammamish between the cities of Issaquah and Redmond into a permanent paved and soft-surfaced multi-use trail.
The trail will provide access to recreation, employment, and retail centers in the cities of Redmond, Sammamish, and Issaquah and complete a missing link in a 44-mile urban regional trail corridor that includes the Burke-Gilman Trail, the Sammamish River Trail and the Issaquah High Point Trail.
The final EIS compares the environmental impacts of five alternatives for the trail, one of which is to leave it how it is, and another requiring only a minor extension of the current interim trail. The other alternatives, known as the Corridor, East A, and East B alternatives, call for more significant construction, including asphalt paving, new restroom and parking facilities, and bollards at trail crossings.
According to the EIS, construction of a more developed trail would have adverse impacts of more than 1 acre of wetland, and the removal of vegetation along streambanks.
With the close proximity of Lake Sammamish, concerns have been raised about the impact of the development on water quality, during, and after, construction.
The project would increase the amount of impervious surface area along the trail corridor by more than 18 acres. However, according to the report’s authors, “with the application of best management practices, and stream and wetland mitigation, the build alternatives should not have major negative effects on aquatic resources, including streams, wetlands, or fish.”
While the impacts of the trail options are only now being released, some kind of construction along the trail is a done deal.
During a meeting with City of Sammamish officials on Tuesday, King County Executive Dow Constantine said that construction of the Redmond end of the trail, heading south, would begin in 2011, dependent on funding.
The trail would stop just 300 feet north of the proposed Sammamish Landing Park. Councilor Mark Cross said it would be very helpful if the county could extend paving of the trail a little further south, to provide a connection between the Landing Park and Marymoor Park. Constantine replied that he would look into it.
The Final EIS for the Master Plan Trail is now available for public review at the Sammamish and Issaquah public libraries.
The document is also available at www.kingcounty.gov/eastlakesammamishtrail.
Electronic (on CD-ROM) or paper copies may also be obtained by contacting King County Department of Executive Services at 206-296-1822.
The draft EIS for this project was issued for public review on October 20, 2006. In response to public comments on the draft EIS, revisions were made to the final EIS. The final EIS will be available for 30 days.
Sammamish Reporter Editor Jake Lynch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Still gravel for now although it looks like they are starting on paving, beginning at the north end
So, it has been 3+ years since the last review.
Is it paved or Gravel?
Im going to go out on a limb and say the average home price along the trail is not $5 million.
"This trail is finally open after numerous years of delay. The local homeowners fought in the courts and lost every battle. I can see why. The trail goes through what has to be one of the Seattle area's richest neighborhoods. Nearly the entire trail is surrounded on both sides by $5 million houses and $1 million gardens. It is a gorgeous trail. Most of the trail is fenced on both sides so you can't possibly trespass. I guess the homeowners bought the land at ""railroad-through-the-yard"" prices and then built their ultra-mansions with the expectation that no bike trail would ever be built. Well, it has been built, it is beautiful, and everyone should get out and see it. Surface is gravel right now and will be paved in the future. Good for hybrid and sturdier bikes; horses not allowed."
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