At the beginning of the year we were kept off the streets by an injury and Alex’s jury duty. An early spring and a record-hot summer got us out on our bikes again, though, and recently we’ve tried some new trips and revisited old ones.
Today for example we did our usual ride down to Fort Dent, but this time continued south along the Green River Trail. Much of this trail had been closed for years while storm damage was repaired and new flood control measures installed. Now, more of the route is off-street, and some sort of park appears every few blocks. Many of the little stopping-places offer water; one is a big natural area with hiking trails.
We rode to Kent and to the intersection with the Interurban Trail, a more utilitarian but nonetheless pleasant way to get back north to Southcenter — where we then had our usual lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen, but with an additional 20 miles under our belts.
This new part of the Burke-Gilman trail runs left-right, both under and over the new, larger Rainier Vista, the big lawn leading to UW’s Frosh Pond.
Other trails have been seeing long-awaited improvements too. For years the Burke-Gilman Trail featured a long detour through a busy part of the University of Washington campus, with “bonus” streets and hills, while a new section was being built to ease traffic near Montlake Boulevard. We happened upon the newly-finished portion during a random trip to Kenmore and were delighted by the change. An old web of crossings and difficult turns has been replaced by an attractive plaza, with a bridge soon to replace the street-level crossing of a big intersection.
We’re usually kept busy with rides we can do from home, but sometimes we put the bike carrier on the car and drive to another regional trail. Our first remote start this year took us to Pierce County and the Foothills Trail, which follows the old Northern Pacific grade from just east of Puyallup up to South Prairie and beyond.
Recent pavement, sound traffic engineering and plentiful facilities make this a convenient ride for just about anybody. The town of Orting lies at the midpoint, and that’s where we had lunch.
Not long after the beginning of the ride, the trail leaves the Puyallup for the Carbon River; the stream bed and the water itself change noticeably, for this river is fed by the glacier of the same name on Mt. Rainier. Later, past the wetlands where Prairie Creek flows in, the trailside stream is clear again.