I gave my wife a ride to a conference in Renton Washington yesterday (2/11/15) and took the bike along. We haven’t traveled any of the rail trails south of Seattle and this was a good opportunity with little extra gas used. I had the southern section of the Interurban Trail in mind, but I checked for other trails in the area and found the Cedar River Trail that started a mile from the conference site.
I’ve had issue finding rail trail tralheads, mostly with no hard and fast address listed. This trailhead is shared with a dog park and I was able to punch it into the GPS.
You actually pass under I-405 to get to the trailhead. There is a good amount of parking and with the dog park traffic it seems fairly safe. I don’t trust the parking security at trailheads and I never leave anything valuable in sight. Never leave clothing or gear like sleeping bags or food visible– that is just what transients want. They aren’t worried about car alarms either and rely on smash and grab. Put the stuff in the trunk and use the remote-release lock-out option. On most cars, you can rotate the key counter-clockwise to activate the lock-out. Check your owner’s manual. There is another trailhead down the Maple Valley Highway just a bit at the intersection of SE 7th street that is very exposed to the view of local traffic. I’ll park there next time.
I started off about 9:00 AM and it was about 45F. I had a light long sleeve base layer top, Zoic padded cycling shorts with Craft AXC Touring stretch pants and long-fingered Novara cycling gloves. I wore a softshell jacket for a few miles while I warmed up and then switched to a convertible cycling shell with removable sleeves. My chin and neck were cold– I should have added a buff.
I used a Bell cycling computer and my iPhone 5 with the Gaia GPS app to track my progress. I’ve been experimenting with a Fuji XP60 waterproof digital camera and most of the photos were made with it.
The first 11 miles of the trail are asphalt paved and in great condition. The trail parallels the busy Maple Valley Highway and there is a lot of traffic noise. It was cool and overcast, but on a hot summer day this section of the trail would be exposed. Many of the trails we have traveled are cool green tunnels in the summer, so be prepared with the right clothing, water and sunscreen of you do this trail on a hot summer day.
The trail does have a slight uphill slope going this direction. You might find yourself going a couple cogs lower in places. That makes for a great ride on the return trip.
The trail crosses the Cedar River many times, making bridges a feature. The river was a near flood stage this day with water levels just a couple feet below the banks in many places.
The pavement ends about 11 miles from the trailhead. The setting is rural and quiet for the next five miles to the end. There is a Y in the trail just beyond with the beginning of the Green to Cedar Rivers Trail uphill to the right.
The gravel is small and well packed: this trail is in excellent condition! On many gravel rail trails I lean to fatter tires, but this one could be ridden with something like 700×28 or 32c randonnuer style tires. I’m running 26×2.15 Schwalbe Big Ben tires, chosen with this sort of trail in mind. The fat lower pressure tires smooth out the bumps and give good control in the gravel.
The ending trailhead is at Landsburg Park, near Ravensdale, WA. There is ample parking there and it is well exposed to the road.
From what I could see on the map, the railroad continued to Cedar Falls and Rattlesnake Lake, which would make the perfect link with Iron Horse Trail and the Snoqualmie Vally Trail.
The round trip was 31.9 miles with an average speed of 10.4 mph and 3.03 “moving” hours. The elevation gain was a steady climb of about 400 feet.