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Decades in the making, the fully-paved East Lake Sammamish Trail opens Saturday

Map of the East Lake Sammamish Trail.
Map from King County Parks.

The grand opening celebration for the East Lake Sammamish Trail is set for noon Saturday (October 7), a moment decades in the making.

Meet at the trail parking lot in Redmond across the trail from Whole Foods for a family-friendly party and banner break. Then you can ride in peace all the way to Issaquah thanks to this trail, which has been under-construction in phases for more than a dozen years.

Details about the opening from King County Parks:


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Come join us for the East Lake Sammamish Trail Grand Opening! It’s time to celebrate the long-awaited opening of this amazing trail. Get ready to explore the scenic beauty from Redmond to Issaquah as we gather at the East Lake Sammamish Trail Parking lot in Redmond on the big day. Whether you’re a walker, cyclist, or simply a nature enthusiast, this event is perfect for you. Bring your friends, family, and furry companions to enjoy a day full of adventure and fun. Kids encouraged! Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to be part of the grand opening of the East Lake Sammamish Trail!

Event poster with a winter scene of illustrated figures walking and biking on a meandering trail. Test: Join King County Parks for the official opening of the East Lake Sammamish Trail! Saturday, Oct 7 12-2p.m. East Lake Sammamish Trail parking lot in Redmond next to Whole Foods.

Paving the trail has been an advocacy effort going back at least 26 years when King County acquired the old rail corridor in 1997, and arguments over the whole trail project go back to at least 1982. Following an abandoned rail line, the trail was initially created as a skinny gravel trail that had become rather worn out before paving work began. Nearby property owners also encroached on the public right of way in a number of way throughout the years, further reducing public access to this public land and lakeside. King County Parks had to navigate intense legal fighting to make this trail happen, which added significant delays and costs to the project. But after the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the appellant group’s appeal in 2019 (yes, really), construction was finally cleared to begin.

The trail is opening with connections to a vast network of regional trails, many of which were hardly even dreams back when people first started advocating this trail along the lake. It plugs into the Redmond trail network, which connects to the Sammamish River Trail (and, therefore, the Burke-Gilman Trail), the 520 Trail, and the in-development EasTrail. On the south side, it connects to the Issaquah-Preston Trail and the I-90-adjacent bike route to Bellevue and beyond (though this route still needs work). The regional trail network is coming together.

Literal generations of advocates with Cascade Bicycle Club and the Friends of the East Lake Sammamish Trail have put in time and effort to make this happen. I’m sure there were many days where advocates thought they had wasted their time because it was never going to happen. But it did happen, and that deserves a celebration.


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6 responses to “Decades in the making, the fully-paved East Lake Sammamish Trail opens Saturday”

  1. Erik

    For a bonus, keep riding it South through Issaquah, transitioning to the Rainier Trail, and eventually you’ll run into Jakob Two Trees, the new Troll there!

  2. Mark P

    This will be an even more spectacular trail once the direct connector to Downtown Redmond is complete, saving the lengthy bypass through Marymoor Park. Stoked!

  3. Tom S

    I was at the groundbreaking ceremony in 1998. Ron Sims cut the ribbon then. Literally decades in the making. I’ll be there Saturday for sure.

  4. NickS

    Hooray! Planning to ride the trail on Saturday. We’ve ridden the northern portion of the trail in recent years, often as a fun day ride combined with the Sammamish River Trail and Marymoor Connector Trail.

    I’ll be sending positive vibes to the private landowners along the trail that tried to block this for decades, some of them illegally building onto county owned land. You now have an amazing trail nearby for you, your children or grandchildren, and neighbors to enjoy; a resource many of us would give our eyeteeth to have walking access to. I hope like Medicare, the 5 day work week, and child labor laws, that this is something the moneyed class will come to embrace or at least grudgingly tolerate.

  5. Brian C.

    I remember stores like this from the days when Cascade Land Conservency (now Forterra) acquired the corridor. Can’t wat to give it a ride!

    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6786039-Beres-1997.html

  6. Michelle F.

    I just picked up your book and discovered your blog. Wowza! So glad to get plugged in. I grew up in Issaquah and take the East Lake Sammamish trail from my home in North Seattle to see my folk on Tiger Mountain. Can’t wait to ride the completed trail.

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