Many of the routes we ride are designed to maximize the distance on bike trails in order to avoid traffic and to take advantage of the easy grades left by ancient railroad builders. Riding in the age of contagion changes things. Now the roads are almost devoid of traffic and the trails are closed but still too full of pedestrians and cyclists.
- Bike Lanes on bridges don’t count. (This is especially significant with respect to the I-90 and 520 bridges, but it also applies to the Montlake and Roosevelt bridges, the Link Station bridge by husky stadium, the West Seattle Bridge, etc.)
- The routes should avoid travel on any of the King Count Regional Trails, even though alternatives are longer, less protected and steeper.
- WSDOT trails are to be avoided outside of the first exit before and after a bridge.
- Short segments of city trails (e.g. Roanoke Park, Hamlin Park) are acceptable only if nobody sees.
- No spitting or snot rockets, even if there is no one around
I’ve mapped out these routes starting from the Woodland Park Zoo. The parking lots are wide open during lockdown but I haven’t checked to see if they are still collecting parking fees. (There should be plenty of street parking available.) As with the previous lists, these routes are intended as templates: once you’ve figured out the bypass options for the critical trail segments you can easily incorporate them into any of the previously listed routes, or into any other route you may be considering.
Here’s the first one:
So this route takes you to Lake Forest Park without that little stretch of the Burke Gilman south of Log Boom. (Where this route turns by Gasco you want to keep going straight to 161 st/Cat’s Whisker where you make a right for a fast descent to the park. Take 175th along the lakeshore (or really along the asphalt and cement plants) to get to Juanita Drive and the rest of the Lake Washington Loop. Note that this route also avoids the Interurban, the little trail in Shoreline that connects two parts of 195th, and the new trail in Montlake Terrace that skirts the north end of Lake Ballinger.
Here’s a route that gets you to either the 520 or I-90 bridges:
So you head down to Stone Way in Fremont and pick up Northlake instead of the Burke Gilman. Cross the Roosevelt bridge and take Boyer to the Arboretum. Turn right and take the Lake Washington Loop route to Leschi where you can climb to the I-90 bridge on Lake Washington Blvd where this route heads east on Frink. Alternatively, turn left when you get to the arboretum and navigate the Montlake intersection to get to the 520 bridge (avoiding the new WSDOT Peninsula trail.) This route’s return avoids the waterfront trail as well as the counter-current 2nd ave. bike trail experience.
Here’s another way to approach rides south of downtown:
This route gets you onto 1st Ave. while avoiding the waterfront trail . You can continue on 1st to the First Avenue South Bridge and the Duwamish route (which is all street at that point – a simple no-trails extension of this route is to ride the Duwamish to the Boeing bridge on 102nd and then swing around the south end of the airport to pick up Airport Way South.) Or you can turn at Spokane for the Spokane Street Bridge giving access to West Seattle routes as well as the Major Taylor route to Burien and points further south.
Here’s one with both bridges:
Northlake avoids the Burke; Yessler to Lake Washington Blvd avoids the I-90 trail on the freeway lid. There is a short section of N. Mercer Way to avoid the trail that is the only connection on the north side of the freeway. A couple blocks on Pacific gets you to 15th while avoiding the Burke. Really a nice loop with no additional mileage to avoid trails.
That ride can be extended to a little under 60 miles by riding on out to Issaquah and heading back up on East Lake Sammamish Parkway. Here’s the link. This extended route avoids the trail through Mercer Slough by going around, it avoids the East Lake Sammamish Trail by taking the road, it avoids the Beaver Creek trails by taking Redmond Way, it avoids the 520 trail by taking Old Redmond / 70th and then Points Drive. From Issaquah you can ride to Fall City, to Hobart, or to the Sammamish Plateau,
Heading north, here’s a ride to Maltby:
You could make this ride a couple miles shorter by eliminating the excursion to Blue Ridge at the beginning, but that adds character. This route avoids the interurban and avoids that section of the Burke in Lake Forest Park and Kenmore. It uses the Old Redmond routing to avoid 520 and then goes around the north end of Greenlake.
An extension of this route would go on out to High Bridge for a little over 70 miles. Here’s a link. The extended route takes a more direct route in North Seattle that substitutes a climb up to Roosevelt for Blue Ridge. Instead of Simonds it skirts the Nike Hill in Bothell (the “SOB” route.) Coming back, it takes old Woodinville Duvall to Novelty Hill and then climbs away from Lake Sammamish on 24th. Once you are out to High Bridge there are connections to Monroe, Carnation, and lots of other places.
Here’s the classic ride around the north end of the lake, done no-trails:
This route avoids the Burke by taking Northlake; it leaves the 520 trail immediately after the bridge and takes you down Points Drive. If you want a short steep pitch you can make a left right after crossing the Sammamish River and head up ( and across Lake City Way) on Cat’s Whisker but what’s shown is a straight shot and the cross street isn’t that bad. There are a variety of ways back from Log Boom but this route takes a direct route up 15th and Roosevelt. A clockwise version of this ride, heading further north, is also fun. Here’s the link. That version avoids the Interurban by riding through Edmonds and Alderwood Mall.
Having looked at the north end of the lake, it’s only fitting to head south:
This route takes Northlake to Boat Street and picks up the Montlake Bridge behind the hospital. Instead of the usual Point Drive this route takes Overlake through Medina. To bypass the Lake Washington Trail / Eastlink in Newport Shores this route climbs Coal Creek Parkway to 60th where it rejoins Lake Washington Blvd. At I-90 this route continues to Yessler in Frink Park to avoid the tunnel and I-90 trail. Here’s the link to another route that returns basically the same way – this time taking Yessler to 19th to avoid the I-90 trail. It picks up the Arboretum bypass and Boyer to avoid the Burke by the UW.
As long as we’re looking at routes south of downtown , let’s revisit an old favorite, May Valley:
Northlake avoids the Burke Gilman, Boyer to the Arboretum gives a long stretch of the Lake Washington Loop Route. Crossing Bellevue on 140th means you don’t have to deal with a bypass for the I-90 trail between Factoria and Enatai. Points Drive gets you to the bridge and Boyer gets you back to the other bridge without riding the Burke. Now suppose you reversed the direction and cut off most of the May Valley segment: here’s a link. In this route Points Drive and 24th bypass the 520 trail; 140th bypasses the Lake Washington / Eastlink trail, and Lake Washington Blvd to Yessler avoids the I-90 trail.
Now let’s extend that last version for a ride that goes even further south:
Black Diamond is a hub of cycle routes and in normal times you would want to visit the Black Diamond Bakery. This route uses Northlake and Boyer to avoid the Burke, and climbs Renton’s East Hill to Petrovisky to avoid the Cedar River Trail. The route through Lake Sawyer is standard as is the return through Landsburg. Bellevue is crossed on 140th to avoid the I-90 trail and 24th / Points Drive bypasses the 520 trail. One of the other spokes out of Black Diamond is the Green Valley Rd. The route shown in this link cuts back into Renton just before the turn onto R Street that leads to Auburn-Black Diamond that leads to Green Valley… (The optional route would also allow you to continue all the way to Tacoma if you just kept straight on to Dash Point Rd. instead of turning on 260th.)
Having presented a couple of long routes to the south, we’ll finish with a couple up north.
This route takes 25th and then 192nd to avoid the Burke in Kenmore and Bothell. It returns on Old Redmond and Points Drive to avoid the 520 trail. At the bottom of Seattle Hill, instead of taking Marsh Rd., one can take Lowell-Larimer (avoiding the interurban) and ride on up to Everett. Here’s the link.