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A 42-mile trail is named for both its past and future

But don’t jump on your bike just yet. It’s still got a long way to go before it’s finished.

The historic Wilburton Trestle in Bellevue will be renovated for trail use as part of the Eastrail project.
Courtesy of Curt Warber, King County Parks

The scenic, 42-mile trail being constructed on a former railroad line across parts of King and Snohomish Counties has been named Eastrail, in recognition of both its past and future.

Local officials unveiled the name over the weekend during a celebration in Redmond, which also included an organized bike ride, live music, and an art walk. The name specifically includes the word “trail” to honor the corridor’s current and future use as an extremely ambitious and long-anticipated paved trail. It also includes the word “rail” to showcase its past as a lightly used freight rail line, as well as its future as a corridor connected with local Link light rail stations, which are set to be completed and opened by Sound transit in the next few years.

When completed in 2025, the trail, which doesn’t allow cars (some parts allow e-bikes and the rest could in the future), is expected to run uninterrupted from Gene Coulon Park in Renton through Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond, and then north through Woodinville and Snohomish County.

“Eastrail will offer a convenient, healthy way to get to and from four of the 10 Link light rail stations we will open on the Eastside in 2023,” said King County executive Dow Constantine, in a recent press release.

Biker on one section of the already completed Eastrail
Courtesy of Eli Brownell

The idea for the large-scale trail began almost 20 years ago, when officials started noticing that there were increasingly fewer customers using the area’s railroad line, according to Curt Warber, special projects manager for King County Parks. They started exploring the possibility of installing a publicly owned, multi-use corridor along the line instead. Work officially kicked off on the trail project years later, after local jurisdictions, including King County and the cities of Kirkland and Redmond, purchased parts of the corridor.

Today, about 13 miles of the regional trail in Kirkland, Redmond, and King County are open to the public. But there’s a lot more work to do before the rest of the trail can be opened, including removing existing rail and making sure road crossings are safe.

“Completion of the Eastrail will transform nonmotorized mobility on the east side of Lake Washington,” said Warber, in an email. “Cyclists, runners and walkers who now need to stitch together indirect routes along often busy roadways will have a connected, high-quality trail running the entire length of the east side, and eventually connecting north to Snohomish.”

When finished, the trail is expected to be similar to the extremely popular Burke-Gilman Trail, which runs for 27 miles from Ballard all the way to Bothell (except, of course, for the “missing link” in Ballard). But given its size and connection to the light rail, this one may prove to be even more popular. Officials say in the future thousands of residents in the area may use it on a daily basis for everything from commuting trips to recreational adventures.