Distance: 7 miles
Conditions: Grab your towel and take the plunge—the NW trails are in perfect condition for delivering a thorough coating of mud. Thanks to several days of uncommonly harsh weather, I had my first grimy ride of the fall this past Sunday. Seattle weather usually spits or drizzles, but last week it unleashed the kind of gale-force winds and torrential downpours I’ve not seen since I left my home in Orlando, Florida (i.e. lightning capital of the world).
The result: leaf-matted singletrack and derailleur-clogging mud clay. It wasn’t so much biking downhill as surfing. The good thing is, a significant portion of the trail is held together with traction-providing small rocks and stones. And with no challenging features (other than mud) to worry about, it’s easy to just hang on and enjoy the slip-sliding ride.
The Ride: King County’s Grand Ridge Park presents riders with a steady grind up and over the Issaquah Plateau through a forest of Douglas fir, cedar, alder and fern, ending at Issaquah-Fall City Road right across from the Duthie Hill Bike Park entrance. The multiuse trail is smooth and non-technical, although the corners are a bit abrupt (the trail was hacked out by Washington Trail Alliance volunteers rather than berm-focused bike organizations).
The trail has a ton of fall line, which makes for fast descents and, apparently, some flooding when it rains. Riders must also cross a swamp during the final leg of this out-and-back ride, and when the rain starts up, the marsh becomes a full-on swimming pool. There is a cedar bridge to help riders across one muddy section, but many more bridges are in order.
If you’ve got sub-two hours to spend on an after-work ride, this is an ideal trail to spend it on. There’s verdant flora and shy fauna to look out for. On my Sunday ride, I did spot some wildlife on the trail. Here are a few wild ones for you: Jen, Julie, Clancey and Corinna.
Try supplementing your daily requirement of aerobic exercise with a dose of Grand Ridge.
Directions: From Seattle, take I-90 to the High Point exit (exit 20) and turn left under the freeway to park in the small lot on the north side, or turn right to park on the road on the south side along with all the Tiger Mountain hikers. On your bike, ride through the north side lot and through the gate to access the railroad grade trail. After a short spin, start looking for the first obvious singletrack trail on the right that turns upwards. Welcome to Grand Ridge.
Angela Sucich, Freelance Writer