Washington's Best E-Bike Routes

Six routes made for an e-bike adventure, from sleepy streets to formal trails.

By Allison Williams Published in the Summer 2021 issue of Seattle Met

Pedaling the Palouse to Cascades Trail.

Image: Mac Holt

The Burke-Gilman Trail

In 2018 the city began to allow electric bikes on the granddaddy of bike trails, the east-west route that connects Ballard to the top of Lake Washington. Only Class 1 and 2 versions are permitted, at a 15 mph limit; a Seattle Parks and Recreation pilot study found that top speeds really didn’t vary much between pedal and e-bikes. 

Bainbridge Island

A classic tour of beaches, beautiful homes, and boutique shops becomes vastly easier with assistance on the island’s steep hills. Loop options abound, most on regular roads without much of a bike lane—but drivers are so used to pedalers that these routes feel safer than Seattle streets.

Lake Washington Bridge Loop

One ride, 20 miles, and both Lake Washington bridges, connected by a tour de Bellevue. Commuters and pleasure riders alike will appreciate extra power on the upward slopes on either side of the I-90 and 520 spans.

Sammamish River Trail

Not that anyone should drink and pedal, but the north end of the popular paved trail does pass through wine-soaked Woodinville. The wide-open vistas further south don’t change very quickly on a conventional bike, but pedal assist shifts the landscape at a brisk pace.

Sammamish River Trail.

Image: Mac Holt

Palouse to Cascades Trail

No e-bike could tackle the entire 250 miles of the former John Wayne Pioneer Trail in a single charge. The western section that begins near North Bend makes for a worthy mountain day trip, while the stretch at Snoqualmie Pass includes a repurposed railway tunnel. Note that the gravel surface demands a hearty set of wheels.

Cedar River Trail

The path traces State Route 169 southeast from Renton, often sandwiched between the road and the river. Natural areas and a golf course break up residential sections. The first 11 miles are paved, forming an ideal out-and-back with a lunch detour in Maple Valley.

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