Redmond Farm Ride
Leave your car at home and ride from your house as you explore the many wonderful regional trails that King County has to offer, but this is no greenbelt stroll. You don’t need to drive to the mountains to ride hard all day through challenging and beautiful terrain. This route is no joke, but the reward is worth the effort!
The route is nicely broken up with climbs, gravel, flats, and pavement sprinkled in intervals so you won’t be bored. Have fun!
We believe this route is either a 5 Star destination ride or a great local training ride. However, a Dirty Freehub Team member has not yet ridden the route to verify its quality. Thus, we welcome any feedback you have regarding the route. It could be ways to make the ride better, a few pictures, a bit about the history or area, or just a simple thumbs up or thumbs down. Use the comment block to let us know your thoughts. For pictures, you can provide a link to a shared Google drive.
Adventure / Gravel Route
Terrain & Technical Riding Difficulty[what this means]
Riding Challenge: Advanced. Several kinds of gravel, some very steep pitches, and some bonafide mountain bike trails as well.
Navigation Challenge: Moderate. Plenty of turns over the 80 miles, but all on routes that are easy to follow.
Terrain: Easier. The routes is through the suburbs and exurbs of Seattle.
When we like to ride this …
The long, warm days of summer are the best time to ride this route. There are plenty of stops for water and a couple of places to take a cold dip. That being said, the route is rideable year-round.
For help with GPS files, the RideWithGPs mapping app and to learn how to download our routes for free, see the “Using Our Rides” page.
I have written this as a 2-day bikepacking adventure, but it can be done in a day as a demanding gravel route.
Start in Redmond
Redmond, Washington is the quintessential Seattle suburb. A new park centers a vibrant downtown with local ice cream (Molly Moon’s) and beer (Post Doc Brewing, among others) within walking distance. It has a good little trail network and a bike park. Oh yeah, and it’s the international headquarters of Microsoft, heard of them? Maybe not the most likely place to start your overnight bikepacking adventure, but you’ll soon see that there is more to the area than meets the eye.
Miles 0 to 4.5 / Sammamish River Trail / Paved Trail
Heading out of town, the first 4 miles follows the paved Sammamish River Trail. This popular commute and family route is the perfect place to warm up and work out any gear issues. But don’t get lulled into a false sense of security by the flat riverside beginnings of this route because the challenge starts literally around the corner.
Miles 4.5 to 11.5 /Tolt Pipeline Trail (round 1) / Gravel
Your first taste of dirt and climbing will start together about 4.5 miles in, as you turn east onto the Tolt Pipeline Trail. This trail follows (you guessed it) the Tolt Pipeline, which brings fresh water down from the Cascades into Seattle. As you might guess, utility access does not prioritize fun curves or manageable switch-backed climbs. Your first test is one of your most difficult: Heart Attack Hill, aka a quarter-mile of unrelenting 16% climbing. Kudos to anyone who rides that with a loaded bike! After another 5 or so miles of wide, undulating gravel road through suburban neighborhoods, you get your first taste of single-track.
Miles 4.5 to 19 / Redmond Watershed & Trilogy Singletrack / Single-track and Paved
This section of fun, smooth, twisty singletrack goes through Trilogy (a 55+ community) and the Redmond Watershed Park. Please note that the trail on this route is the only one in the watershed open to bikes. Every trail on this route is multi-use, so always ride with caution and kindness. This section is grin-inducing fun the whole way through, and you’ve earned that after all the climbing! The very end is flat and real bumpy, and after going through a gate, you’ll be back on the pavement for just a couple of miles. You pass a grocery store and shopping area here, so snack if you’re hungry. A fast and fun road descent drops you into the Snoqualmie Valley, where you ride across the river towards part 2 of the Tolt Pipeline Trail. This rich agricultural valley (which you’ll be camping in tonight) gives the route its very creative name.
Miles 19 to 33 / Tolt Pipeline Trail (round 2), Lake Joy and Descent / Gravel & Paved
Round 2 of the Tolt Pipeline Trail will look pretty similar to round 1, with more trees and less degrees (of grade, I know that rhyme was a stretch). You will have growing views of the Cascades on a clear day, though this is as close as you’ll get to them. The end of the gravel road brings you to Lake Joy, a wonderful little lake that you get to ride around on your way to a winding, relaxing gravel descent back into the valley.
Camp! (Tolt MacDonald Park) / Optional
On this overnight adventure, you’ll get to stay at the underrated Tolt MacDonald Park campground. On the east side of the river are pull-through sites with full hookups and a bathroom with plumbing. These are harder to reserve though. However, walk across a rad suspension bridge to the west side of the river to find more secluded camping, including some great hiker/biker sites right along the river. These are pretty out of the way, which won’t be a problem for you on your bikes! There are also some reservable yurts and one shipping-container tiny house (these are hard to reserve and have a two-night minimum). Luckily, Carnation has a grocery store and a couple of restaurants, so there is no need to carry meals at any point during the ride if you don’t want to. Have some fun at camp playing on the river bank or exploring the trails above the campgrounds.
Miles 33 to 46 / Snoqualmie Valley Trail to the Snoqualmie Falls / Gravel
You know how when you are really tired on the bike, your mind tries to convince you that the flat road is actually slightly uphill? Well, in this case, these 12 miles really are slightly uphill (about a 2% grade). So instead of getting down on yourself for having lead in your legs, rejoice in your triumphant 12-mile climb to start the day! This trail is the old Milwaukee Road rail line that transported passenger and cargo in and out of the midwest for just over 60 years (1912-1973). Now you will get to enjoy its solitude and trees until you get near the gun range (mile 42) and convince yourself that you’re being actively hunted (you probably aren’t). A little hike-a-bike at the end brings you up to the road. Ride down the road and take a right at the roundabout to visit the historic lodge, giant waterfall, and snack shack at Snoqualmie Falls.
Miles 42 to 51 / Climb and Descend Snoqualmie Ridge / Paved & Single-Track
This next climb is a slog. It isn’t too steep or long, but it makes up for being really boring and exposed to the elements. The only saving grace is that you are on a paved, off-street path rather than mixing with traffic. However, turn north through the golf course on the top to find the least expected gravel and singletrack bit on the whole route. You will quickly go from a suburban snooze fest (with great views) to some tricky descending. It’s got steep; it’s got rocky; it’s got tight, sometimes two of those at a time. But overall, it’s a smooth and enjoyable way down the other side of Snoqualmie Ridge to rail-trail #2 of our route.
Miles 51 to 59 / Issaquah-Preston-Snoqualmie Trail / Paved Path
That descent drops you conveniently onto the Preston Snoqualmie Trail, part of the Mountains to Sound Greenway (Google it). This mostly paved trail has some steep bits and wacky routing, but everything will be alright if you follow the posted signs. A short section along the road connects you to the Issaquah Preston Trail, bringing you some sweet, sweet relief from the pavement and taking you to the final and largest challenge of the whole adventure.
Miles 59 to 65 / Grand Ridge Trail / Single-track
I’m not gonna lie to you (or anyone about this or anything); this is a straight-up mountain bike trail. You’ll find twisty single track with rocks and roots both up and down the whole way through. If that sounds like your idea of fun on mile 50 and day 2 of a bike packing trip, then take that right turn up the hill. Otherwise, stay on the Issaquah Preston Trail all the way into the city of Issaquah and pick the route back up there. If you’ve taken the plunge, you’ll find a trail as rewarding as it is difficult. The climb is challenging in an interesting and engaging way, and you don’t get to relax on the exciting descent either. The top of this climb is the top of the route as well (mile 59, 1,090 ft). You’ll find Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park at the end of the Grand Ridge Trail, where you can test exactly how far your loaded gravel bike can go on mountain bike trails, drops, and jumps.
Miles 65 to Finish / Lake Sammamish Trail back to Redmond/ Paved and Paved Trail
A lumpy, busy paved road with a good shoulder leads you to a steep and very fast road descent into the main shopping area of Issaquah. There are plenty of food options along the route, but you are also oh so close to the end. You’ll pick up the smooth gravel Lake Sammamish Trail and take that all the way back to Redmond as the perfect victory lap/cool down. Local bike advocates have been arguing with rich lakefront landowners for years to get that trail finished. Thank the bike advocates by giving them some of your money (cascade.org, wabikes.org). All of a sudden, you are back in Redmond (self-proclaimed bike capital of the northwest). Revel in the satisfaction, meditate on the feeling in your legs and heart, breath in the accomplishment, breath out gratitude, then go to Black Raven Brewing and grab a beer.
Food & Water
This is an urban ride and there a many possibilities along the way to re-fuel. Here is a list of a few:
- ~ mile 16 QFC grocery store
- ~ mile 34.5 Tolt MacDonald Park / Water, restrooms, and camping
- ~ mile 46 Snoqualmie Falls / Viewpoint and amenities
- ~ mile 69 Issaquah city center
Most of this route is rideable on 35mm gravel tires, though for the Grand Ridge singletrack, you may want wider rubber.
Once the eastside light rail expansion opens in a few years, the Redmond start will also have greatly improved transit access. As is, Redmond is accessible from downtown Seattle by a couple of different buses.
This is one of those routes where every bike set up will be at a disadvantage at some point. My perfect setup is a drop-bar gravel bike with 650bx47 tires/wheels.
Tropea is an excellent Redmond eatery that would be the perfect place to carbo-load before the ride or reload after the ride.
There are several great bike shops in Redmond as well (Element Cycles, Edge and Spoke, a Trek store).
Here is a link to a longer, harder version of the ride that starts near Seattle (105 miles, 7000 feet of gain). The Seattle start is also right across the street from the UW light rail station, making the start accessible by transit from the airport and lots of other places. We have not included turn-by-turn directions, points, or gravel / paved / single-track sector markings in this map version.
Two ways to make this route easier are:
(1) Turn south onto the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, where NE 124th St hits 203 (mile 16.8). This will skip the climb up to Lake Joy.
(2) Do not turn up the Grand Ridge singletrack (mile 57.6), instead, continue straight on the Issaquah Preston Trail into the city of Issaquah and pick the route back up near Lake Sammamish State Park. This will skip the climb up Grand Ridge.
Ridden and Reviewed by …
RyanY / Guest Contributor
I like to ride bikes and like it even more when I can share that with others. I know that isn’t the most interesting thing, but this route is. So stop reading about me and start getting some friends together for a ride!
If your looking to give back / get involved several organizations to look at are:
Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, responsible for trail building and maintenance at Grand Ridge and Duthie Hill.
- March 2021 / Original Post as a Development route.