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  • Writer's pictureChris Toepker

East Rail (Trail) + Cross Kirkland corridors

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

By now you’ve noticed - I really enjoy running rails to trails. It’s the way they wind through so much, connecting it all. The rails are dead; long live the rails!

Likely, you have a bunch in your area too, thanks to "rail banking." Here's a guide and review for easier enjoyment of the Pacific Northwest rail-trails, and maybe a little inspiration to check out those nearest you!

So, using the 1920s US Department of Transport rail map of Washington below...(the light green line is approximately where I-90 runs today!)

Check out these major corridors around the region!

  1. East Sammamish Trail(s) [One on each side of Sammamish river then along east side of Lake Sammamish to Issaquah]

  2. Issaquah- Preston trail (aptly named for the rail line it totally follows).

  3. Cascades to Palouse Trail (formerly Iron Horse trail)

A focus on the East Rail & Cross Kirkland trail, Renton to Woodinville

1. East Rail Corridor & Cross Kirkland Corridor

Stretching from Renton to Woodinville, this trail is not quite completely connected. In spring of 2021, it’s under some construction as the Factoria section is upgraded.

Starting from Gene Coulon Park in Renton, head north and exit the park. The trail runs immediately next to the road there, and is easily accessed. Simply head north, traveling along the shores of Lake Washington. In addition to the natural scenery, you’ll go past the Seahawks training facility. (Go hawks!)

Eventually, you’ll come to Factoria, where you’ll have to exit the trail proper. The rail famously went on and eventually over the 405 freeway to Wilburton, causing traffic headaches for decades. Now that is gone, so the trail dead-ends. Until the construction is complete, exit at Factoria and stick along the lake, where there's a wide bike and pedestrian lane. You’ll also have to take sidewalks across most of Bellevue towards the Cross Kirkland Corridor trail head. For the adventurous, there are ways to follow the railway more closely north from Factoria, but much of it is unsafe and closed off. The best example is the elevated Wilburton Trestle. Don’t do it!

The Cross Kirkland Corridor stretches through Totem Lake and out to Woodinville. Along the way, you’ll come across historic stops. From the founding of the line through the farm and lumber yards of the time, through where Japanese Internment was carried out and now across a new Google campus. Past, present and future, all along this artery!

Past Totem Lake, the trail is under construction and passable on foot. It’s much more rustic and scenic, running just a bit up the ridge above the Sammamish valley. Alongside the more industrial rubber recyclers, you can find Woodinville Whiskey, the Ste Michelle winery and other hipster hangouts. (Don’t get me wrong - they’re great. You’ll see me there, although I’m about as hip as a heel.)

Once you get to Woodinville, you have your choice of where to go next.

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