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The Interurban Trail between Seattle and Everett stitches together a dense residential and commercial patchwork that the original electric railway helped to grow in the early part of the 20th century. The 24-mile trail also goes through the communities of Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds, and Lynnwood. It skirts two regional malls (Alderwood and Everett), a casino, and an abandoned drive-in theater, among other businesses.
The corridor for the Seattle-Everett Traction Company was considered remote when it launched service in 1910. As growth mushroomed after World War I, commuter and mercantile traffic switched to cars and trucks on new roads, and the railway (then owned by Puget Sound Power & Light Company) folded in 1939. Snohomish County, Lynnwood, and Everett pooled their resources to create the first 11.8 miles of trail in the mid-1990s. More trail gaps are closed every few years.
The rail-trail is a 10- to 12-foot-wide paved path that travels through park or greenbelt settings. Several long sections roll adjacent to noisy Interstate 5, which took the place of the railway corridor. Anyone traveling the entire distance, however, will stumble across a dozen gaps where the marked Interurban Trail detours onto bike lanes, wide shoulders, low-traffic streets, and sidewalks.
Starting in northwest Seattle, you'll pass several examples of trailside art, including some depicting a volcano erupting, an elk sprouting horns, and other scenes in a series of sequential signs. The trail section ends at a two-way cycle track on Linden Avenue with automatic crossing signals for bicycles.
The trail resumes through the commercial center of Shoreline and ends at picturesque Echo Lake. From here, it follows a 1-mile detour onto bike lanes and a path to the Lake Ballinger Station trailhead, which features a historical exhibit of the railway. As with all trail detours, look for the distinctive Interurban Trail signs showing a red arrow on a green circle on either a white or brown background.
Heading north, you'll encounter other trail gaps, often at major intersections. Some pedestrian crossings offer scenic views of peaks in the Cascade Range to the east. One trailside curiosity south of Everett Mall is the abandoned Puget Park Drive-In, which featured its last picture show in 2009. The trail ends on a sidewalk at the busy intersection of Colby Avenue and 41st Street in Everett.
To access the trail in Seattle, from I-5, take Exit 173. If coming from the south, turn left onto First Avenue NE. Head west on N. Northgate Way, which becomes N. 105th Street, for 1.1 miles. Turn right onto N. Park Avenue N, and go 0.2 mile. Turn left onto N. 110th Street. Find on-street parking.
To reach the Everett trailhead, from I-5, take Exit 192, and head west on 41st Street. Go one block, and turn left onto Colby Avenue. After 0.3 mile, turn left onto 44th Street SE. Find a small parking lot on the right.
I ride this trail twice a week from Everett to work in Mountlake Terrace and mostly love it. The areas in which you actually ride on the trail are wonderful. That means the sections from about Lynnwood Park & Ride thru Everett. I often am alone on those sections of trail, and I love to look over at stopped traffic on I-5 and feel smugly secure that I'm getting to work faster and with better exercise than those people.
The negatives of this trail are as people described: it starts and stops and sometimes there are sketchy people. There are several streets in which the trail stops and the rider has to cross streets -- 128th Street, 164th Street, approaching the back side of Alderwood Mall, and most of Mountlake Terrace including 220th Street. Those aspects of the trail are frustrating because they break the riding flow and make bikes feel like second class transportation. I especially hate the uphill/downhill approaching the mall, as it required riding on the road up a hill. It's a shame the city of Lynnwood couldn't widen that bridge to allow for bikes. Near 128th Street, the trail ends at an apartment complex and you have to ride through an area congested with kids in the afternoons, requiring weaving through people. Then on the other side of 128th, towards Everett, there are occasionally sketchy people who you can just bike away from.
Despite these frustrations, I love my Interurban Trail and am happy to ride it frequently. It's been improved over the years, especially thru Lynnwood, and riding it is a great way to start and finish the day.
I'm leaving two stars because of the huge challenge it was to get from Everett to Seattle today, I like challenges but you may not and after attempting this trail you may even leave zero stars. You CAN NOT do the ride with out a map on your phone first off. Little to no signs leave you guessing and searching. The biggest thing today is the street closure around the Alderwood Mall area in Lynwood. If you're determined like I was today to get to Seattle, plan on taking 164th to 36th to 184th. Maple Rd and even Ash Rd underpass are closed - Till November. WTF. Interurban trail is years away from being user friendly.
I am happy that this trail exists, but it is hard to get in a rhythm riding it, as every mile or so the trail crosses a busy street, many with no lighted crossing. It is also highly urban, and much of the old right-of-way is gone, requiring the trail to take constant diversions. As noted in another comment, there are some "interesting" people on the trail as well from time to time. It's worth riding once or twice, but I much prefer more intact, scenic and safer trails like the Centennial.
oh lord, this was a bad idea to ride on this trail… it was very scary and had some not ok eople on it. i did not feel safe the whole entire time.
Gently sloping trail through my suburban neighborhood, very well maintained. Had a nice family ride along with other friendly and courteous bicyclists.
What a wonderful trail!!
BUT got lost numerous times between Everett and Seattle because there was no signage and you had no idea where to go after you popped out on a road. I didn't have a map of the trail and no US data plan on my phone. Many kind Americans looked up the trail on their mobile devices to help me out but trail takes forever to download. (Maybe room for improvement?) To those maintaining the trail...please cycle from north to south with the eyes of someone who has never ridden this trail. You will see how often signage is lacking. If you are putting in new signage it would help to indicate whether the sign is indicating northbound or southbound. That will help for some of the turn arounds (crossing the I5 for example).
Thanks to those that have created this wonderful bike route!!
I work in north Everett and I am not surprised or overly worried about the rough edges of Everett and the North Interurban. However when biking alone July 2015 mid afternoon I approached by a twenty something man on a BMX bike, no helmet, and large backpack who passed me, yelled something as I sped past and then turned and started to follow me. Thank goodness a passing biker stopped when I quickly flagged him down and my would be "thief or worse" turned tail and biked quickly out of site. This was a close call which left me shaky and upset.
My husband and I have biked the Interurban between Mill Creek and Everett many times. There are sections that we always feel we are a little uncomfortable but we have never been approached or followed. The section that I had this incident was going south in the open area and short climb to the sidewalk behind a very sketchy neighborhood before Cascade High School.
The Interurban has the potential to be the biking gem of Snohomish county but because of the safety issues I would always think twice before biking alone or with a buddy. My recommendation is group rides only.
Nice ride until it got a little busy with streets, lights, and traffic. A bit confusing when the signs were not placed in visible spots. Could not determine which way the path picked up after some traffic lights and stop signs. Left, right, or keep straight? Had to ask experienced bikers on the path.
Excellent ride however signage is non-existent in some areas. I used the Navigator phone app. and found it to be spot on with when, how far, and where to turn.
It would be nice if they marked this trail properly, in numerous places it simply leaves you scratching your head. Especially where it transitions thru neighborhoods ..
This is a great asphalt trail with interesting things to look at along the way. Not many pedestrians or cyclists on Sunday morning.
Now here's what made me give it only three stars: there is little to no signage. It's very aggravating. We had to constantly flag down other cyclists, ask pedestrians and double back after riding the wrong way for a while.
How hard/expensive could it be to put up more signs?? This made it a frustrating ride. I'll give it 5 stars when I can figure out where I'm going.
The Interurban intersects with 224th SW in Edmonds. While there is no sign @ this point, by paying attention to your location, go west 2 blocks and you'll be in Edmond's International District. For several blocks, lots of good eating @ a variety of Asian restaurants. Ranging from sit down meal type to quick bowls of Pho. Plan to stop, either by yourself or with a group.
The other day i wanted to take a stroll down the Interurban Trail as I had heard a lot about it but had yet to walk or cycle it.
What I really wanted to do would have been more than a stroll as I was planning to walk north from the Four Freedoms house where bus #345 deposited me (approximately 133rd and Linden Ave. N. in Shoreline) which would have been about a 6 or 7 mile journey to the Lynnwood Park and Ride where I'd catch the 511 bus and transfer to the 347 or 348 in Mountlake Terrace to get back the Northgate Transit Center in Seattle from whence I began this trek.
It was early afternoon and I abandoned Plan A as I wouldn't have the time for it. So I managed close to 3 miles of putting one foot in front of the other up to 175th St enjoying a cup of coffee at Haggens supermarket before I turned around to retrace my steps.
A pleasant walk on a nice aslphalt trail that follows the original interurban trolley railbed from days of yore. I am very familiar with legendary Aurora Ave. N. that parallels the trail. This is the commercial north south corridor the old Hwy 99.
The Interurban Trail presented me with a discovery or two.. For instance I would never had known there was a well groomed cemetery beside the trail right behind the casino. And I always wondered what the back side of the car wash looked like. Yeah...it is pretty commercial along this stretch but that has its pluses. You have options for pit stops, coffee, lunch, or even some shopping if you want..as the trail passes the popular Central Market (with a mini food court) adjacent to Sears and other shops. You'll find these attractions at the big overpass at N. 155th St.
The City of Shoreline has done a great job on the Interurban. At the intersection of Linden Ave. N. and N. 145th St there is a nicely landscaped trail head ( I guess that's what you'd call it but not really because the trail begins a mile or so south at N. 110th and Greenwood in Seattle) with a circular plaza with an attractive shelter and a sculpture of a seagull with park benches surrounding it.
Speaking of benches there are lots of em to be found along the way..at least on the segment I traveled.
The Interurban Trail whetted my appetite for a cycling experience. I ride my bike quite a bit yearround t and I regretted I didn't toss it on the bus when I left Seattle. But that's for another day when I can do the entire trail up to Everett.
Keeping in mind that segments of the trail are industrial/commercial with and a bit seedy at times but my cycling friends tell me there are some beautiful, country scenes as well..
So I am looking forward someday to doing the entire trail..
I have not ridden this section yet, but here is what MyEdmondsNews.com reported about the opening ceremony:
to view the writeup and see some pictures:
Edmonds link to Interurban trail officially opened through Lake Ballinger neighborhood
Edmonds Bicycle Advocacy Group members Warren Bare, Peter Block and Peter Hallson wait for the ribbon-cutting ceremony to start.
Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite presents a bicycle sculpture to Mayor Dave Earling at the Interurban Trail event.
It took 12 years, but the $1.8 million Edmonds link for the Seattle-to-Everett Interurban bicycle and pedestrian trail was officially opened Tuesday afternoon, marked by speeches and ribbon cutting at Ballinger Station, a landscaped rest area at 76th Avenue West and McAleer Way.
Past and present City of Edmonds, Snohomish County and Washington state elected officials, along with employees, contractors and members of the Lake Ballinger neighborhood gathered for the festivities celebrating the 1.3-mile section of trail connecting Shoreline to Mountlake Terrace.
Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling noted that the trail follows the route of the Interurban trolley line, which started in 1907 and ran from Seattle to Everett until 1939. “I always found it fascinating that the car put that rail system out of business. And we now have rail beginning to replace cars,” Earling said.
Earling also recognized the Ballinger family, who originally settled in the neighborhood in 1888 and generously gave property to the city that was necessary to complete the trail’s development. “They’ve only asked for one acknowledgement, and that is when we cut the ribbon today,” Earling said.
(According to an article in the August 2010 Edmonds Historical Museum newsletter, R.A. Ballinger, a judge and one-time Seattle mayor, purchased the island in the middle of what was then known as Lake McAlear for a $20 gold piece in 1901. He named the island for his father, and the lake eventually became known as Lake Ballinger.)
Dignitaries make it official as the ribbon is cut.
Edmonds City Council President Strom Peterson gave a shout-out to the Edmonds Bicycle Advocacy Group, which was represented by several members who bicycled to the ribbon cutting. Pointing to the group’s bicycle safety education efforts for Edmonds School District elementary and middle school students, Peterson called it “a tremendous program,” noting that “those kids will be able to take advantage of something like this (the trail).”
Numerous recognitions were also made by Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite. In addition to thanking the many contractors and city employees who worked on the project, she recognized the project’s Lake Ballinger-area neighbors who “put up with us through all of the design and the purchase of the easements and the right of way access and the construction of the project. It’s been a long process and we really appreciate your patience.”
Then Hite presented a small wire bicycle figure to Jaime Hawkins, the City of Edmonds Capital Projects Manager who “has worked with finesse to get this project done on time, on scope and on budget.” She also gave a similar sculpture to Earling, adding with a smile that “I hope it can live in the mayor’s office, on your desk, because as we get to budget cuts, I want you to remember how important bikes and parks and everything that brings out healthy lifestyles and quality of living will be for you.”
The completed trail link heads north on 76th Avenue West from the section in Shoreline at State Route 104, continues to McAleer Way and follows the corridor to 228th Street Southwest, where it connects with the new southern terminus of the Mountlake Terrace trail. The trail also includes a spur that connects to Mathay Ballinger Park in Edmonds.
The trail includes a .47 mile 12-foot wide paved path, landscaping, a bench, signage, a bicycle rack, a drinking fountain, a shelter and an information kiosk. Bike lanes have also been added to 76th Avenue West and bike arrows to 74th Avenue West to complete the 1.37-mile section.
The trail extension was funded through $1.3 million in state and federal grants, with the remainder from the City’s Real Estate Excise Tax and utility funding.
I took this trail recently end to end. I found the trail to be in decent shape, sometimes lacking in signage. Intersections were sometimes really odd, and finding the next section was not always apparent. Still, even with the discontinuity, it still made a rush hour trip from Everett to Seattle very easy.
"I rode (what I think is) the entire route between N 145th Street (the southern trailhead in Shoreline) & Alderwood Mall Parkway (a total distance of about 12 miles) this past weekend. The trail is still being built, with construction of a trail bridge over Aurora Avenue at N 155th Street currently going on, but the portions which are ready are smooth & easy. As of 02/2006, there are three portions that are complete:
(1) N 145th Street to N 155th Street
(2) N 158th Street (or close to it) to N 175th Street
(3) N 192nd Street to the Aurora Village Transit Center
In between you’ll need to ride on local streets which fortunately have decent bike lanes or shoulders (except Ashworth Avenue). My advice is that you look at the map provided at the trailhead for clear images of where you need to turn, although in Shoreline there are a decent number of signs which tell you this. The most scenic portion is traveling along the eastern edge of Echo Lake (portion #3).
After the transit center, you’ll need to rely on local streets all the way to 228th Street in Edmonds & will then need to make a right if you’re coming from the south to rejoin the trail. There are no signs in Edmonds telling you where to turn off 76th Avenue (Mountlake Terrace does a way better job of this). There is a slightly steep hill around the Shoreline/Edmonds city line. Once you do find the paved portions (near 228th Street & 73rd Place), it’s a mostly flat ride to Alderwood Mall (although the trail is not continuous; don’t worry, you won’t get lost in Mountlake Terrace). The northern portion isn’t very scenic, but it is fast & I take this route to go from Greenwood to Alderwood. You can easily see Mt. Rainier on the section over 196th Street (right next to I-5) on a clear day as I did.
If you don’t mind discontinuity, this trail is decent.
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