From Evergreen Trail Guide
|DOGS MUST BE ON LEASH AT ALL TIMES. King County Parks is getting complaints about off-leash dogs at Duthie and Gd Ridge. Both places are so heavily used, unfortunately it really just isn't appropriate to ride with our pooches off-leash there any more. Dogs can also piss off large fury things with teeth, sharp claws and cubs to protect. There are bears, I saw one up close.|
Grand Ridge is both an oldie and a new trail: while new residential development wiped out some of the trails we rode in the past, a new trail system has been under development by King County Parks and the WTA. (Check out wta.org for work parties.) You access it the same way as ever: by climbing up from I-90. The trail can also be accessed from the top of the Issaquah Highlands development.
The main trail winds north across Grand Ridge towards Duthie Hill Park.
This is a great XC work out, with great climbing practice. Plus, it can be linked with trails on the south side of I-90 to create longer loops. This trail connects with Duthie Hill Bike Park and will eventually (10 years?) continue up to Soaring Eagle (aka, The Beav) for a suburban epic.
The climb from I-90 up to the plateau is a grunt, but not too long. When coming from Duthie Hill, the long climb up to Grand Ridge Drive is even more of a grunt, and is pretty darn hard to clean on a single speed. With gears, it's still a fairly physical ride.
How to find it
Trail starts on the RR grade on the north side of I 90 between Exits 18 and 20.
The best place to park is on Sunset way (I-90 Exit 18), just as you drive down into downtown Issaquah. The parking lot is on either side at the bottom of the ramp on Sunset Way. From the parking lot head north over I-90 on paved trail which becomes the gravel RR grade that heads east along the north side of I-90. After a mile or so you reach the first Grand Ridge trail that heads up the hill to the left.
There is also access to the Grand Ridge trail from two points in the Issaquah Highlands Central Park, one from the powerlines by the soccer fields, and another from the tennis courts. If you park by the tennis courts, ride south along the retention pond and find the trail at the south end. If you ride down the road under the power lines, just past the soccer fields you will find the trail on your left.
A third option for parking is at High Point (I-90 Exit 20), on the north side of I-90. But there have been a number of break ins there, so this lot is best avoided.
You can also join the trail from the Issaquah Highlands via Harrison Way and then Grand Ridge Drive to where it intersects the trail. DO NOT park on Grand Ridge Drive.
A new paved trail - the High Point Connector - connects the East Lake Sammamish Trail (which turns into the Rainier Trail in downtown Issaquah) to the RR trail on I-90 east of Issaquah. This trail follows follows I-90 along the north side of the freeway. Folks living in Issaquah and Sammamish can use this link to get to Grand Ridge trails. (Note: Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is working on establishing a bike link from these trails west to Eastgate).
Access from the north end. YOU WILL GET A TICKET FOR PARKING ON THE ROADS. DO NOT PARK IN THE L.D.S. CHURCH PARKING LOT. If you start early or on weekdays you can find parking at the Duthie Hill parking lot on Duthie Hill Road and ride south over the board walk up the trail through the clearing and out the access road. The lot fills up fast on weekends so it's best to park at Cascade Ridge Elementary School in Trossachs or keep going north on Trosachs to the Soaring Eagle lot. Please respect the locals by not parking on the side streets. KC parks is working on more parking for the bike park. The trail starts just east of the gated access road. DO NOT PARK IN THE DUTHIE HILL CLEARING.
By bus from Seattle, Mercer Island or Bellevue (Eastgate), Sound Transit #554 or U-District or downtown Bellevue, Metro #271, or from Northgate/Bellevue during commute, Sound Transit #555 or from Seattle during commute times Metro #214 ( to DT iss and P&R) or #218 (to highlands P&R). For bus riders, from the corner of Sunset and Front Street in Issaquah go east on Sunset up the hill and across I-90 on the bike path.
You will get your workout on this one.
Grand Ridge can have quite a few puddles during and immediately after a rain as there are quite a few springs and a lot of the soil doesn't drain very well. Lots of leaves in the fall can make for a really wet ride. If you want modestly dry conditions you should wait 5 or so days after a big rain.
Not crowded but does get a few hikers, families with small kids and dog walkers. Please be cautious of hikers on this trail, and consider wearing a bell so they can hear you coming. Horses are rare but new bridge means there will be more.
- GPS track - I-90 (Exit 20) to Duthie and Back
- King County Parks Map - includes overview and map
- Alternate King County Parks map
- Map of the Issaquah Highlands neighborhood also shows the main trail.
- GPS trail map from switchbacks.com
From the railtrail along I-90 between exits 18 and 20, there are three options: the westernmost trailhead (closest to exit 18) splits into a west fork (known as the "coal mine trail" for the remains of a coal mine shortly after the tee) or up an eroded route if you head right at the first tee. Access to the Issaquah Highlands Central Park comes from two spur routes on the coal mine trail: one to the soccer fields and one to the tennis courts. If you're climbing, keep right at each intersection to stay on the main trail (conversely if descending, stay left at each to stay on the main trail). The easternmost trailhead (closest to exit 20) will meet the other two routes partway up. Once all three trails up have converged, you're in sweet single track to Grand Ridge Drive (go left for view). Cross Grand Ridge Drive to continue on the trail heading north. After a steep and sometimes wet descent, the trail Y's again, follow the trail that dives to the right. The next section rises, traverses through a nice forest, then falls steeply to a cedar swamp with a bridge. (Check out the size of the trees in this part). This section rises slighlty, then flattens and descends, eventually reaching another cedar swamp with the newly completed puncheon bridge keeping you dry. The trail once again continues with a climb to Issaquah-Fall City Road and the back gate of Duthie.
A nice loop that is easily combined with the Grand Ridge trail involves the roads on the south side of I-90 at Lake Tradition. (Note that bikes are only allowed on the gravel roads - please stay off hiking trails at Lake Tradition). This route follows the Issaquah High School Trail up to Lake Tradition and then to High Point, then crosses to the north side of I-90, and then west to the Grand Ridge trailheads. To do this loop, start at the high school upper parking lot, and take the trail behind the stadium. A well-travelled dirt road (known to high schoolers as "Heartbreak Hill") climbs up to the Lake Tradition Plateau. Once you gain the powerline road at the top, follow it north to the main east-west road, and turn right and ride past Lake Tradition. After hitting the Tiger Mt. parking lot for the hikers, follow the road to I-90 High Point interchange (exit 20), go under the freeway, and immediately turn left onto the old railroad grade. Follow the dirt road downhill until you hit either of the two trailheads leading north up the hill to Grand Ridge. One can get 20+ miles by following this loop, doing an out-and-back to the Duthie Hill Road, and ending up back in Issaquah. And even longer when a link to Soaring Eagle is built.
Local Points of Interest
One can debate about food, but the best beer in the vicinity as at the Issaquah Brewhouse (Google Map), which has some 20 taps and many Rogue beers on tap. The Brewhouse is on Sunset Way, just west of Front Steet, Issaquah's main drag. The easiest way to find it coming back from Exit 20 is to take Exit 18, take the Sunset Way split, and go straight until just past the light at Front St.
As a resident of Issaquah, my favorite place to stop after a mountain bike ride is Extreme Pizza on Front street. Super friendly service, fresh ingredients (for example- they make their own hummus for their hummus pizza!), beer on tap and even gelato!
King County's Mitchell Hill Connector Forest.
Big trees for a suburban park and only the first part has been overun by invasive plants. One old tree is 24' around.
Bears, bobcats and deer are common sightings.
This trail has a FaceBook page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Grand-Ridge-Trail/298304890190669
Expect horses on weekdays.
There was a battle with in KC Parks about this trail being open to bikes. It's important to show the county we care by showing up for work parties. Keep in mind that we're the biggest user group on this trail. Find them at the Washington Trails Association site
WTA and Evergreen will be back at work this fall.