Bike Routes: Off Road

By Allison Williams and Amanda Zurita With Brian Colella, Emily Dhatt, Jessie Wesley, Anne Larkin, and Nicole Fancher May 18, 2012 Published in the June 2012 issue of Seattle Met

Tiger Mountain

It’s one of the area’s most popular off-road destinations, and a perfectly good excuse to put “Eye of the Tiger” on your mountain bike playlist. The 3,000-foot Issaquah Alps peak, popular for its three rooty trails, was crisscrossed with logging roads and railroads for decades before it became a recreation mecca. In mid- to late summer, it will debut a new mountain bike route.

The summit of East Tiger—which boasts a panorama of Mount Rainier to the south—is already accessible by the Crossover Road. The new path will corkscrew around the mountain to the Preston Railroad Trail, itself a challenging collection of switchbacks. Besides offering a bit of variety, it’ll be a chance to ditch the logging road climb in favor of a wilder, through-the-trees singletrack experience.

The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance paired with the Department of Natural Resources to get it done, spending about $11,000 and using hundreds of hours of volunteer labor for the initial section. Managing water runoff is the biggest hurdle, and this year’s snowmelt will be a doozy. Eventually the Preston Railroad route will connect to Northwest Timber Trail, bringing the total of singletrack miles on the mountain from about six and a half to more than 11. Start Pedaling Here: From Exit 25 on I-90, take Highway 18 about four miles south; a parking lot is on the right

Big Finn Hill and 
Saint Edward Parks
In the 200 acres of this county park in Kirkland, there is a three-and-a-half-mile tangle of trails; seven more miles are in the Saint Edward State Park next door. A number of bridges and boardwalks help with the wetness in the wooded areas, but flooding still regularly causes damage. Start Pedaling Here:Juanita Dr NE and NE 138th St

I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Park
Forgive this postage-stamp park its uninspiring name; it’s pretty sweet for a destination under an overpass. The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance crafted practice areas under 14 lanes of traffic, building chutes and skinnies, a suspension bridge and rock step-ups. This is as gnarly as it gets within the city limits. Start Pedaling Here:Lakeview Blvd and Boylston Ave

Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Trail
Bikes are only allowed on these singletracks on odd-numbered days to give hikers elbow room on the evens. Three bridges span the river in the 14-mile stretch, and the trail accesses campsites and the natural Goldmyer Hot Springs. Start Pedaling Here:From Exit 34 on I-90, take a left, then a right onto SE Middle Fork Rd; the trailhead is 11.5 miles in

South Fork Snoqualmie Area
The way this bike trail was built—“phase one, phase two”—sounds like a battle plan. Eight miles of this route to scenic Hansen Ridge were built in 2009, with about seven more from phase two to debut this year; the path winds through Forest Service property that’s hardly been touched since it was last logged, three decades ago. Eventually there will be 15 miles of nontechnical but physically demanding terrain.  Start Pedaling Here:From Exit 47 on I-90, take Tinkham Rd 1.2 miles, then Forest Service Rd 5510 3.8 miles to trailhead

Tolt Pipeline Trail
Nothing goes quite city to country like this nearly straight shot from Bothell to Duvall, and the horses that frequent it give it an extra dose of rural charm. Wide and unpaved, it’s most daunting when pedaled in a west-to-east direction. Better to follow the water that flows through the pipeline next to the trail: It runs downhill. Start Pedaling Here:Blyth Park on Riverside Dr in Bothell


Updated June 12, 2012, to reflect that the East Tiger Mountain trail will open to bikers in mid-to late summer, rather than in spring, as originally published.

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