Because the L2L Trail passes my home, I’m always walking at least some part of it. But it’s been a while since I hiked all the way to the eastern trailhead at Lake Sammamish. So last week I took advantage of a sunny winter’s day to check out the trail for changes since my last full hike…
The last time I blogged in detail about the L2L – in July 2010 – I described what is essentially the officially published route. Fast forward to today and we find that for the first 2.6 miles, from the Lake Washington trailhead at Enatai Beach Park, to SE 8th St at I-405, the trail remains unchanged (Google Map).
However there are now some new trails in the vicinity of the L2L, particularly around my neighborhood, Wilburton Hill. These now present some interesting options: in particular one which can be used to eliminate the ugly on-street segment between SE 8th St at I-405 and Main St at Bellevue Botanical Garden (Google Map).
Instead of taking the footpath alongside the freeway, continue on SE 8th St to the intersection with Lake Hills Connector. At this intersection you’ll come to a large interpretive sign talking about the Wilburton Tressle: cross here to SE 7th Place and look for the trail entrance (Google Map).
This trailhead, which until recently only provided a shortcut to the ballfields at International School, now connects to a spur that traverses up the backside of Wilburton Hill, thus completing a loop to the Botanical Garden. It is more difficult than the official route but infinitely more pleasant than the on-street segment.
A hybrid of the on-street segment and the ‘backside of Wilburton’ trail is also available: it uses SE 5th St to connect with the ‘backside’ trail on the other side of Wilburton Hill (Google Map).
Whichever way you choose to go over or around Wilburton Hill, resume the L2L trail in the hill park and continue from there as before (Google Map).
On arriving at Weowna Park I recommend staying on the paved trail beside 168th Ave SE until you reach SE 19th St. This is the the main entrance to Weowna’s trail network. From here visit the waterfall viewing platforms then explore the rest of this beautiful park.
Another change to consider, which may impact decisions once you reach Weowna, is current transit options for returning from Lake Sammamish. This is because since the introduction of the RapidRide B Line last October many local eastside bus routes have been updated, and in some cases removed.
If you want to hike on through Weowna to the official eastern trailhead, which is located at the northeast end of the park, you’ll emerge onto W Lake Sammamish Pkwy: walk north to the bus stop at NE 8th St & 172nd Place NE (Google Map). From here the 226 bus goes (westbound) to Eastgate P&R or (eastbound) to Bellevue Transit Center.
If you decide instead to hike within Weowna Park: perhaps just to reach the waterfall viewing platform; but not to descend all the way to the Lake Sammamish trailhead, you’ll likely emerge somewhere along 168th Ave SE or, as I did, onto SE 9th St. The Weowna trail map will give you a better idea of what I’m talking about.
From anywhere in this area you can ride the 221 bus (southbound) to Eastgate P&R or (northbound) to Redmond. To get to Bellevue Transit Center, take the northbound 221 and transfer to the RapidRide B Line at Crossroads. For this option and for a broader view of Metro’s bus network: eastside routes.