March 1, 2017
T0p 10 Urban Rides
By Diane Rudholm
Photo at right: Built in the 1920s, this 700-foot long wooden train trestle takes riders 80 feet above Mendenhall Creek along the Banks-Vernonia Trail west of Portland, Oregon. Photo by Chris Brewer
(Editor’s Note: After NW Cyclist went to print, it was called to our attention that not all these trails are open to electric bikes. Please check electric bicycle regulations in your area before starting your journey.)
Perfect for biking and flanked by natural spaces, these urban rides will satisfy any Northwest cyclist’s quest for open air regardless of experience, age or enthusiasm.
Bothell — Seattle
The Burke-Gilman Trail in north Seattle offers easy access to beaches along the northern shores of Lake Washington, smooth turns under tall trees in the University District and an iconic view of Seattle’s downtown skyline from atop Kite Hill in Gasworks Park. The path continues by inter-connecting roadways through Ballard along the Ship Canal to Shilshole Bay Marina just south of Golden Gardens Park. Cyclists can access the trail from a variety of points along the way. www.seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/burke-gilman-trail
Interstate 90 Trail
Seattle — Bellevue
The Interstate 90 Trail is a major connector for many non-motorized commuters who travel between Seattle and Bellevue for work, but it is also an enjoyable route for recreation.
Cyclists can begin in Seattle at South Holgate Street and ride east towards Bellevue while crossing the I-90 Bridge. Either stop on Mercer Island to enjoy the beautiful scenery or make a detour to loop around the island before continuing your ride toward the eastern shore of Lake Washington where you can check out Mercer Slough Nature Park in Bellevue.
Start in the Fairhaven district of south Bellingham and watch ships and ferries glide along shimmering waves. Pedal south toward Larrabee State Park where you could easily extend your day trip into a bike-camping trip.
For a special treat, explore the Larrabee beach at low tide. Along with starfish and crabs, visitors often catch glimpses of whales and other mesmerizing sea life.
Chehalis Western Trail
Olympia — Lacey — Rainier
Running north-south from Woodard Creek Park in Woodard Bay Conservation Area in North Olympia, through Lacey and connecting to the Yelm-Tenino Trail at State Route 507, the Chehalis Western Trail combines the best of urban and rural riding. Linking over 170-acres of park land this smooth trail offers refreshing green space and views of the Deschutes River, Puget Sound, Chambers Lake and numerous other forest, farm and wetland habitats.
Snohomish County Centennial Trail
Arlington — Snohomish County Line
The Snohomish County Centennial Trail is a scenic rail-to-trail path with a dozen trailheads to choose from. Although the whole trail stretches from the town of Snohomish north to the hamlet of Bryant, we like the out-and-back ride from the Arlington trailhead north to Bryant about 4 miles away. Grab some lunch at the historic Bryant General Store at the ride’s midpoint. www.centennialtrail.com
Springwater Corridor Trail
Portland — Boring
The Springwater Corridor Trail begins at Southeast Ivan Street in Portland and its smooth surface leads the way to Boring, Oregon.
The trail’s riverfront views and park amenities are perfect for an out-and-back picnic with friends and family. There are also delightful detours to places like Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge in southeast Portland. www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/145158
Bear Creek Greenway
Ashford — Central Point
Connecting parks, restaurants and coffee shops from Ashland to Central Point in southern Oregon, the trail travels through Talent, Phoenix and Medford trail and is ideal for family-friendly bike excursions. There are ample spots for picnicking and playing with kids. Bonus: easy access to public restrooms along the way. www.jacksoncountyor.org/parks/Greenway/Bear-Creek-Greenway-Map
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Banks — Vernonia
The Banks-Vernonia State Trail is the first “rails-to-trails” linear state park built in Oregon. If you love wooden trestles, you’ll want to include the Buxton Trestle in your route. Built in the 1920s, this 700-foot long bridge takes riders 80 feet above Mendenhall Creek.
With a total of 13 bridges, this gently graded trail offers scenic views of mountains and fields as it wends through Washington and Columbia counties.
Boise River Greenbelt
Boise resident and avid cyclist Jeff Clements recommends the Boise River Greenbelt as one of the best rides in the area.
The Greenbelt stretch of trail follows the smooth flow of the Boise River and offers easy access to wildlife and sightseeing opportunities. It’s also close to great city destinations like the Boise Art Museum, Zoo Boise and the wildly popular Payette Brewing Company.
Idaho Falls Greenbelt
This trail affords cyclists impressive views of the Idaho Falls waterfront which is comprised of cascading falls and the gentle curves of the Snake River. Well-labeled trails and trees line the Greenbelt along with whimsical benches commissioned by Idaho Falls Arts Council and Historic Downtown Foundation. Treasure-seekers will also enjoy hidden geocaches along the way. Cyclists who want to extend their ride can enjoy three looped trails along the Greenbelt. www.idahofallsidaho.gov/wwwroot/userfiles/files/pr/greenbelt_brochure.pdf
Wherever you ride, ride safe. Let us know if we missed any of your favorite urban trails!
Diane Rudholm is a writer and illustrator living in Seattle. She loves riding bikes with her wild and wonderful husband and kids. @dianebikes