Mountain Views, Floating Bridges: The I-90 Trail
Bike ride along the I-90 Trail? Sounds like it would be a noisy, traffic-filled experience, and for a short segment, it is. But this city-bound route also takes you through parks and offers sweeping cityscape and mountain views both east and west.
The paved, off-street trail runs from the north edge of Beacon Hill, just above the I-5/I-90 interchange, east across Lake Washington and Mercer Island to Bellevue. Along the way, it connects with a number of other great cycling routes.
You can pick up the trail at many spots, but try starting at the midpoint, at the base of Colman Park on the west shore of Lake Washington. Here, you’re just a few blocks south of the I-90 floating bridge. To ride the entire trail, you’ll need to make two loops, one in each direction.
Start by climbing the road through Colman Park. Follow the “Bike Route” sign through two short tunnels, and in 500 yards you’ll be on a serpentine section of Lake Washington Boulevard through the well-kept park. Grassy lawns front ravines filled with trees and hiking trails. Continue north on Lake Washington Boulevard to the East Portal Viewpoint. Turn right on S. Irving St. just beyond the viewpoint, then right again to join the trail.
Continue circling right and enter the tunnel west toward downtown Seattle. It comes out in Sam Smith Park, created on the lid of the I-90 vehicle tunnel. Jog left a bit after crossing Martin Luther King Jr. Way, then continue in the park. The trail connects to Taejon Park, a narrow slice of green that offers great views of the Cascade Range and Mount Rainier. Stop at the gaily colored pavilion, donated by Seattle’s Korean sister city for which the park is named. This leg of the trail ends at Golf Drive S. From here, look west across the pro football and baseball stadiums to Elliott Bay.
Retrace your route by heading east, back to the lake. At the tunnel’s east edge, loop down the left ramp onto the floating bridge. Here’s the loud part: you’re facing the oncoming traffic, which creates a rhythmic buzz, buzz as the cars cross the bridge’s expansion joints. Don’t fear the bridge, however. A heavy concrete barrier separates bikes from cars, and a tubular steel fence rises between you and the lake. In about two miles, you’re on Mercer Island.
Keep right and climb to the top of the island’s lid park. Cross E. Mercer Way to stay on the trail, then pass Feroglia Fields, which offers grassy playfields, restrooms and water. A rolling trail route takes you another two miles across the island. Exit the island via the East Channel Bridge, which drops down in one-quarter mile to enter Bellevue.
Follow the bike route signs and loop left under I-90. On your right will be Enetai Beach Park, which also has restrooms. The trail continues on the south edge of the big highway. You’re entering the Mercer Slough, named for Aaron Mercer, one of Bellevue’s first farmers.
At a Y in the trail, take the left branch to ride along the edge of the boggy slough’s blueberry farm. In a half-mile you’ll reach the historic farm’s fruit stand, then Winters House, a stately manor from 1929 that’s now the slough’s visitor’s center. Hiking trails fan out from here.
If taking the right fork at the Y, you’ll be on the Lake to Lake Trail, which will carry you on trails and streets to Lake Sammamish, and eastward to Issaquah in six miles.
To complete the I-90 Trail ride, return to Colman Park via Mercer Island and the floating bridge. To lengthen the ride, add a 15-mile loop around suburban Mercer Island or a six-mile ride south on Lake Washington Boulevard to Seward Park.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared on NWSource.com.