Image: Craig Romano
Grand means full-grown firs and lush wetlands spanned by a 600-foot-long boardwalk.

Grand Ridge 

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 11.0 miles 

While this 1,100-foot ridge just east of Issaquah might not exactly be grand, the 1,300-acre King County Park embracing it and the 5.5-mile trail traversing it certainly are. Grand too are the mature cedars and firs lining the way, and the 600-foot-long boardwalk spanning the wetlands that surround salmon-bearing Canyon Creek.

Acting as a green wall along the suburban fringe of the Issaquah Highlands, Grand Ridge Park is a remarkably wild place rife with wildlife. And despite lying within the shadows of uber-popular Tiger Mountain, this park has yet to be discovered by many hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners. 

From the trailhead, follow the Issaquah to High Point Trail for .5 mile alongside I-90 and the East Fork of Issaquah Creek. Then turn right onto the Grand Ridge Trail and begin climbing away from the freeway. Winter wren song soon replaces the buzz of automobiles. 

Ignoring side trails, stay on the Grand Ridge Trail weaving through groves of big trees and showy boughs of ferns. Continue deeper into this sprawling park, crossing several beautifully built bridges spanning small creeks that cascade during winter rains. Eventually begin a long descent to Canyon Creek, coming to the MikeO puncheon bridge. Completed in 2012 by volunteers from the Washington Trails Association (WTA), this sturdy 600-foot-long boardwalk bridge is sure to be the highlight of your hike.

Now climb out of the lush river bottom, reaching trail’s end at the Issaquah-Fall City Road. The WTA plans to build a connector trail into adjacent Duthie Park in the near future, but until then, turn around and enjoy the 5.5 miles you just hiked all over again. 

Watch For: Sitka spruce, a primarily coastal tree growing along Canyon Creek.

Getting There: From Seattle, follow I-90 east to Exit 20. Turn left, and just after passing underneath the freeway, reach the trailhead at a small parking lot on your left.

Craig Romano is the author of 9 Washington state hiking books including Winter Hikes of Western Washington Deck.

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