Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Riding the Interurban

The Interurban Trail is a rail trail in Snohomish County. It is a hard-surfaced, non-motorized trail located on the Pacific Northwest Traction right-of-way, a route used until 1939 by the Interurban Railroad between Seattle and Bellingham. The trail in Snohomish County runs over 16 miles (26 km). In 1910, The Seattle-Everett Interurban Railway began electric passenger service. After the railway was abandoned in 1939, it was converted to a power line corridor. In the 1990s, the right-of-way was opened to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Today, we were that bicycle traffic and our route covered most of it.

We left Eastside Foursquare Church and headed through Kenmore where another ride group three times our size merged with us. We followed them through Briar until we had to stop to regroup and reconnect with David who had pulled a sanican quickstop a mile or two back. Once regrouped, we rode into Lynnwood and found the Interurban Trail access point paralleling I-5.

Marlene had never ridden the Interurban and was pleasantly surprised when she realized where we were, "Hey, this is Lynnwood, isn't it?" Probably exactly what the original explorers said when they settled this area years ago. We rode north along the Interurban through Martha Lake and South Everett. We had to search for awhile to locate the access to the new I-5 pedestrian bridge. After spinning through a nearby neighborhood searching high and low, we found the trail entrance right on the I-5 on ramp, with a partition between us and the freeway. We crossed I-5 and continued north into Everett.

As we pedaled along the trail through Everett, our ride became a bit of a scavenger hunt. Locating the next Interurban Trail sign became the game. Some were hidden behind parked trucks. Others were on opposite sides of the street or at odd angles. But we found them all and made our way to the northern terminus of the trail.

We turned west just as the sprinkles began to turn to light rain and rode along Possession Sound on W. Mukilteo Blvd. The ride along the waterfront provided peek-a-boo views of Everett and the Whidbey Island as we swept up short climbs and fun downhills. Our destination was drawing closer, but first, we had to stop for the requisite group photo at Harborview Park. The gray sky overhead didn't damper our enthusiasm. But I was grateful we weren't standing in the rain for our photo.

Just a few miles more and we reached Red Cup Café. This café is warm and inviting with zany artwork, sculpture and photos all around. The food and beverages hit the spot. My half sandwich was exactly what I needed. When Warren ordered the "Orcas" sandwich, David was sure he had said "Oinkin'" and assumed it was a fairly large sandwich—appropriate for Warren. We laughed until David sat down with a cinnamon roll as big as his head. Who's the oinker now?

We enjoyed our coffee, baked goods, and sandwiches—as well as a warm place to dry out—almost as much as our animated conversation. Then we took to the rode and routed our return trip. We rode along a different route through Mukilteo past light industrial areas and even StockPot Soups.

When we crossed back over I-5, I took the group over to McCollum Park and then we followed the Mill Creek North Creek Trail. The ten foot wide hard surface trail is approximately 2.5 miles long running between McCollum County Park and 164th St. SE. But we called it our "Wonderland Trail." It sweeps up and down and around corners all in a wooded setting behind apartments and homes. We encountered a road hazard when a downed tree gave us the option of either bunny-hopping over or stopping and carrying the bike over. No one bunny-hopped, but we all wished we could.

We exited the trail at Mill Creek Town Center and then continued south on Bothell-Everett Highway until we reached Bothell. Even with a bit of light rain, this ride proved once again to be a day of great regional trails, hidden surprises, great fellowship, and—of course—good coffee. And a lot of it on the Interurban.

More photos here.

Riders: Bob, Jim, Marlene, Warren, Don, David
Distance: 51.15
Time: 3:53:44
Avg: 13.2
Max: 30.7

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