Grand Ridge is both an oldie and a new trail: while new residential development wiped out some of the trails we rode in the past, a new trail system has been under development by King County Parks and the WTA. (Check out wta.org for work parties.) You access it the same way as ever: by climbing up from I-90. The trail can also be accessed from the top of the Issaquah Highlands development.
The main trail winds north across Grand Ridge towards Duthie Hill Park.
This is a great XC work out, with great climbing practice. Plus, it can be linked with trails on the south side of I-90 to create longer loops. This trail connects with Duthie Hill Bike Park and will eventually (10 years?) continue up to Soaring Eagle (aka, The Beav) for a suburban epic.
The climb from I-90 up to the plateau is a grunt, but not too long. When coming from Duthie Hill, the long climb up to Grand Ridge Drive is even more of a grunt, and is pretty darn hard to clean on a single speed. With gears, it's still a fairly physical ride.
Grand Ridge can have quite a few puddles during and immediately after a rain as there are quite a few springs and a lot of the soil doesn't drain very well. Lots of leaves in the fall cam make for a really wet ride. If you want modestly dry conditions you should wait 5 or so days after a rain.
Not crowded but does get a few hikers, families with small kids and dog walkers. Please be cautious of hikers on this trail, and consider wearing a bell so they can hear you coming. Horses are rare but new bridge means there will be more.
From the railtrail along I-90, head uphill at the trailhead sign. Head up to an intersection, go right (or straight then right then right (left will take you to the soccer fields via the power line road) to get to Central Park and the main trail) heading up the hill on a consistent grade you hit a creek crossing. Further up at the top of the hill there is another spur to the left that loops back to the main trail within the next mile, again stay right on the main trail. After a bridge you cross Grand Ridge Drive (go left for view). Follow the well-built newer section of trail along the top of Grand Ridge, heading north. After a short distance you pass a trail junction that drops down to the right (this short but wet trail leads to a county road at Grand Ridge Estates, and is a nice loop access to the GR trail via a road that goes up from High Point). Keeping straight on the main trail, the trail Y's again, to follow the newer trail that dives to the right. The next section rises, traverses through a nice forest, then falls steeply to a cedar swamp with a bridge. This section rises slighlty, then flattens and descends, eventually reaching another cedar swamp. The trail once again continues -- follow the rough flat buggy trail to the continuation. Past the flat swampy area, the trail rises from the flats and continues with a climb to Issaquah-Fall City Road. Another place to start is on the RR grade just west of Exit 20
A nice loop that is easily combined with the Grand Ridge trail involves the trails (roads) on the south side of I-90 at Lake Tradition. This route follows the Issaquah High School Trail up to Lake Tradition and then to High Point, then crosses to the north side of I-90, and then west to the GR trailhead. To do this loop, take a short steep trail up from the Sunset Way parking lot at Exit 18 to get on the former railroad grade that once looped through downtown Issaquah. Take this trail south to near the high school stadium, where the High School trail turns off to the left. (Or, park at the Issaquah Community Center lot - better yet, near the Brew Pub which makes a nice return destination - and ride the paved Rainier Trail to where where it crosses 2nd Ave just south of Issaquah HS, where it turns to dirt. Ride this a short distance until you see the High School Trail taking off to the right). At the high school stadium head up the hill on a dirt road to Lake Tradition Plateau. Once you gain the powerline road at the top, follow it north to the main east-west road, and turn right and ride past Lake Tradition. After hitting the Tiger Mt. parking lot for the hikers, follow the road to I-90 High Point interchange, go under the freeway, and immediately turn left onto the old railroad grade. Follow the dirt road downhill until you hit the main trail leading north up the hill to Grand Ridge. One can get 20+ miles by following this loop, doing an out-and-back to the Duthie Hill Road, and ending up back in Issaquah. And even longer when a link to Soaring Eagle is built.
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