Since the first time I mapped out and walked Bellevue’s excellent but entirely linear Lake to Lake Trail system I have been looking for a way to incorporate the best bits into a circular loop. The best of both worlds for out of town visitors and locals alike; problem was I had not found a way to close the loop – until now. My thanks go out to Connie of WalkOn inBellWA whose Skyridge Rollercoaster walk provided my ‘missing link’. So here it is… The Lake Hills Loop…
A) Start and finish at Bellevue Botanical Garden (approx 7.5 miles).
B) Start and finish at Wilburton Hill Park (approx 6.9 miles).
→ Follow the distinctive blue Lake-to-Lake trail markers to Kelsey Creek Park.
C) Start and finish at Kelsey Creek Park (approx 6.3 miles).
From Kelsey Creek Park stay on the Lake to Lake trail until you’re across the creek bridge and into the woods, then start following trail markers to Lake Hills Connector. If you miss the markers you’ll reach steep stairs leading up to a section of Pipeline trail. At the top just turn right then continue to Lake Hills Connector.
At Lake Hills Connector – a busy divided highway – cross over then enter the woodland trail; this brings you to the Pipeline trail heading south – Connie’s Skyridge Rollercoaster – with its several steep climbs and drops leading to Skyridge Park.
Go through Skyridge Park, past the small playground, then follow the public access out to 135th Place SE. Continue south on 135th Place SE, following the curve to the left (east) where it becomes SE 24th St.
Continue on SE 24th St to Kamber Rd, cross over, then take the steps leading up – SE 24th St continues at the top of the steps.
Continue on SE 24th St to 148th Ave SE. Cross here and enter Robinswood Park. There are some really nice paths and trails here so feel free to explore – exit on SE 24th St next to the Tennis Center (restrooms available).
Continue on SE24th St to 156th Ave SE (5-way stop); at this point cross over and pick up the Phantom Lake trail heading north. The trail passes Phantom Lake Park (restrooms available).
At Lake Hills farm stand take the Lake to Lake trail through Lake Hills Greenbelt, then continue by way of Larsen Lake, Sammamish High School, Pipeline Trail, finally descending the steep stairs down into Kelsey Creek Park. From here you can retrace your steps back to your starting point.
Note: due to my familiarity with the Lake to Lake trail I walked this loop clockwise – the opposite direction from my description here. With hindsight it was a mistake – by going clockwise I put the Skyridge Rollercoaster near the end. I learned the hard way how this section, as Connie accurately observes in her blog, provides a solid workout and is not for the faint of heart. Trust me when I say you should tackle the ‘coaster on the outward part of the loop, not on the return. And if you have any weakness, particularly in the knees or ankles, I would advise taking it real slow.