I-90 Routes

Inspired by the 520 Bridge page I put up last year, here is an I-90 page.

I didn’t exactly replicate the format – while all of these rides start at the Mt. Baker Tunnel East Portal Viewpoint, some of them don’t cross the bridge.  I’ve tried not to reproduce rides I plotted out on the 520 page so look there for loops that link both bridges.  As I started mapping routes I realized that the “Climbs, Lollipops, etc.” categorization I used on the 520 page was going to be forced the second time around.  Instead I’ve grouped good rides that pass through specific destinations:

You’ll note a lot of segments that can be recombined in other configurations.  You’ll also find shorter loops if you move the start to somewhere further east or south.  I’ve always found parking on Lake Washington Blvd overlooking the portal – if you park at the little park under the bridge (S. Day Street Park according to google maps) you’ll have to climb a pretty good hill to get up to the portal viewpoint.


Arboretum – 11.1 miles and 756 ft. of climbing
Kind of the basic loop that supports extensions and stuff that involves 520 – Northbound on the Lake Washington Loop route and Southbound on Interlaken and 19th.  Instead of mixing it up with cars in the Arboretum you can  head west at the Bush School (look at the 2nd ave. route below.)   At Montlake you take the Bill Dawson Trail and Delmar and climb up to Interlaken which   puts you out on 19th.  You have to jog over to 20th at Yessler and at Judkins Park you pick up the I-90 trail and ride back through the tunnel to the start.   There are too many connections to detail but the most important is the Montlake intersection where you’re a couple of blocks away from the 520 trail and a similar distance from the Burke Gilman.  From Judkins Park it’s easy to get to Dearborn (which is the route to downtown and the waterfront) and to the westbound I-90 trail to Beacon Hill and SODO.


Chief Sealth – 11.7 miles and 731 ft. of climbing

The short loop takes the Lake Washington Loop route to Seward Park – an especially nice ride on bike-Sundays,   At Othello it heads West to pick up the trail which it follows to 15th.  (The guy who proposed the Chief Sealth Trail got an award for low-cost disposal of light rail tunnel spoils – see if you can figure out why.)  The greenway on 18th takes you back to the I-90 trail and a ride through the tunnel gets you back to the beginning.  I don’t like the Chief Sealth  Trail – besides the unnecessary hills it is way too discontinuous.  It does, however, give an alternative to Lake Washington Blvd and it offers connections to Georgetown and first hill.


2nd Ave Bike Lane – 15.2 miles and 865 ft. of climbing

This loop bypasses the Arboretum and heads for the Burke-Gilman.  You loop around and cross the Fremont bridge and then take Westlake to 9th to Bell.  (An alternative for those who have issues with the design of the bike lane on Westlake, is to take Dexter when you get across the Fremont bridge. )   From Bell you turn onto the Second Ave. bike lane and ride that (carefully) through downtown to King Street Station where it puts you onto 4th.  Then Dearborn takes you to Hiawatha and the I-90 trail through the tunnel to get back to the start.   There are connections all over the place – the Burke and the 520 at Montlake, Nickerson and the South Ship Canal by the bridge,  Lenora to Western to the Waterfront (or 3rd to Jackson to the Waterfront.)


Waterfront – 20 miles and 1,052 ft. of climbing

At the mid-point of the Arboretum this route turns up Boyer and rides that all the way to the University Bridge where it crosses and circles and picks up the Burke Gilman.  Instead of crossing the Fremont Bridge it stays on the Burke Gilman and crosses the ship canal (on foot) at the Locks.  Government and Gilman take you to the Interbay rail yard and the Pier 91 trail to Myrtle Edwards Park.  Ride through the waterfront on Alaska Way and take Yessler to 2nd to 4th to Dearborn and Hiawatha to get back to the I-90 trail and the tunnel to the start.    The only connections I’ll call out are the continuation of the Burke Gilman out to Golden Gardens and the continuation of Alaska Way to points south, but it does take you right past the ferries to Bainbridge and Bremerton.


West Seattle – 24.9 miles and 1,228 ft. of climbing

One of the “points south” is West Seattle.  This loop heads through the tunnel at the start and cuts across downtown on Dearborn and King streets to pick up the waterfront trail and then East Marginal Way to Spokane Street.  After crossing the lower West Seattle bridge you pick up the Alki Trail that takes you all the way to the  lighthouse at the point.  From there you ride Beach to Lincoln  Park and Fauntleroy to the Vashon/Southworth ferry terminal.  (There is a gravel trail along the water in Lincoln Park that you can ride to avoid the climb to Fauntleroy.)  You climb up the hill on Barton, descend and then climb some more and then take 9th to a fast descent on Highland Park Way .  The First Ave. S. bridge puts you out on Michigan and 4th takes you to Lucile which you ride to Airport Way S.  This route has you going up a steep hill (a bridge across I-5) on Holgate to pick up the I-90 trail on Beacon Hill,  Alternatively you can ride 7th to Dearborn and Hiawatha to get to another branch of that trail.  Either way you ride back to the tunnel and the start.  Besides the ferries, West Seattle offers routes down the sound to Burien and eventually Tacoma, as well as the Duwamish route to Tukwila and Kent and beyond.


Langston – 27.5 miles and 1,124 ft. of climbing

Same start as the West Seattle route – through the tunnel and Dearborn / King to the waterfront trail, East Marginal Way and Spokane street.  Once you get across the bridge instead of picking up the Alki trail, this route goes down West Marginal Way to pick up the Duwamish trail which you ride as far as Cecil Moses Park (AKA Rock Weir) where you take 112th to cut across Tukwila.  A left off of East Marginal Way just before the bridge puts you on 116th and you take 42nd to 124th (just staying on the arterial) to get to get to 50th.  At Codina Park the arterial (now called 129th) will head up and across I-5 and after crossing MLK Way you’ll pick up Langston.  You ride Langston all the way to the Sunset/Rainier intersection where you take 3rd over to Shattuck which gets you across to the perimeter road around the airport.  After that you’re back on the Lake Washington Loop route (Rainier to Seward Park to Lake Washington blvd) until Coleman Park.  At the park the Arterial changes its name to Lakeside but you stick to Lake Washington Blvd. and climb up a gentle corkscrew through the Olmsted Brothers park and at Irving you drop down to the I-90 trail and the start.  Instead of leaving the Duwamish trail at Rock Weir you can continue on the other side of the river picking up the Green River or the Interurban trails.  The start of the climb on 129th is also the intersection with Railroad which gives bicycles access to 56th and another river crossing back to the Duwamish trail.  At the Renton Airport you can turn the other direction to continue the Lake Washington Loop or to pick up the Cedar River trail.


Mercer Island – 17.4 miles and 1,017 ft. of climbing

Any ride that crosses Mercer Island can be enhanced (and extended by about 10 miles) by riding around the south end of the island instead of just following I-90.  As you come off the bridge you take a ramp to the left and down that puts you on 60th Ave.  When you’re forced left look for W Mercer Way and take it all the way around.  The get-back takes N Mercer Way with a jog on 84th by the community center and another on 78th by the park & ride.  There is a trail along I-90 but it incorporates gratuitous hills and too many pedestrians (for one thing, it takes you right through the bus waiting area at the Park & Ride.)


South Lake Washington Loop – 24.7 miles and 1,109 ft. of climbing

Instead of riding around the south end of Mercer Island in a counter-clockwise direction, this route has you ride around the south end of the lake, clockwise.  (Actually both routes go both ways but it’s nice to have the water on your right.)  The route is signed since (except for the part across Mercer Island)  it is part of the full Lake Washington loop that has been in place for 30 years or more.  The I-90 trail continues east after the Mercer Slough.  By mid-2020 (hopefully) I’ll need to update this to reroute the frontage road sections north of Gene Coulon onto the Eastlink trail.  You can ride south on Park from the  the lake to the Library Park and the Cedar River trail – not a perfect connection but it beats riding the walkway along the river.  There is also a connection on Shattuck and 7th to the Interurban.


Bellevue Loop – 23.9 miles and 1,718 ft. of climbing

Another route that starts out with a ride across Mercer island.  There are lots of options to get through Bellevue, this one follows the bus route through Beaux Arts and then follows Killarney past Chism Beach and on to Main.  108th takes you through the heart of Bellevue and 12th takes you across 405 to 116th and Northrup.  The 520 trail is accessed from 24th and then abandoned at Cash & Carry for a jog through the parking lot over to 140th.  The arterial route through the Bellevue Community college parking lot gets you to 142nd and across I-90 and the I-90 trail takes you back to the start.  As I said, Bellevue has lots of options – and once the light rail construction is finished it will have more.  Instead of turning right on Main you can turn left and take Lake Washington Blvd. to the 520 trail.  Instead of leaving the trail at Enatai you can ride across the slough and leave it at 118th.  Or you can stay on the trail and continue to Factoria and points east.  From the 520 trail you can head north and around the end of the lake.  At 116th and Northrup you ought to be able to pick up the cross-Kirkland – once Sound Transit finishes their work and Bellevue figures out who gets the tab.  You can stay on 520 to 40th where a short ride down to West Lake Sammamish Parkway takes you back to I-90 for a longer loop.


Forest Drive Loop – 29.7 miles and 2,303 ft. of climbing

There are lots of options for loops south of I-90, too.  This one starts off riding across Mercer Island and the Mercer Slough, then taking Coal Creek Parkway to Factoria Blvd and Newport Way.  At 150th you follow the arterial (Highland) to get to Forest which offers a couple of good climbs.  A short stretch of Lakemont (there is a porta-poty at the Red Town trailhead) takes you to the Newcastle Golf Course which can be skirted on 79th & 80th and then 136th puts you out on Coal Creek parkway.  This route has you take May Creek Park way all the way to Monterrey and across 405 to pick up the Lake Washington Loop route back to the I-90 trail.  Instead of leaving Newport Way at 150th you can continue to the road just past Eastgate Elementary (152nd) for  more of a climb (when the “no outlet” signs appear you take 49th over to Highland.)  Instead of leaving Coal Creek Parkway at May Creek Park Way you can continue a little ways and turn the other way onto May Valley Rd for access to Nile or Issaquah-Hobart and points South.  Instead of crossing 405 you can pick up Lake Washington Blvd which climbs back up to Newport Hills and gives you several alternative ways back to the I-90 trail.


Nile – 31.7 miles, 1,678 ft.
Out across Mercer Island, the Lake Washington Loop route to the Lake Washington Blvd. crossing over 405, Newcastle Way then May Creek Park & May Valley to Nile.  4th to 156th and then down the hill to the Cedar River Trail. Second to Burnett and Shattuck back to the Lake Washington Loop Route at Airport Perimeter Rd.  This version bypasses Seward Park on Wilson but at the  end you climb up the switchbacks in Coleman  Park to return to the start.  This loop connects a bunch of building blocks used in longer rides.  There are options off of the trail when you first get to Coal Creek Parkway.  There are options at the top of the climb on Lake Washington Blvd.  There are options on May Valley and on the Cedar River Trail.  And the return  up the lake could take the east side, or the Chief Sealth Trail or Airport Way South or the Duwamish…