Mercer Island Loop
Located on Lake Washington, Mercer Island is connected to Seattle by the I-90 floating bridge from the East and to Bellevue on the West by the E Channel Bridge. Both bridges have separated pedestrian/cycling paths to make visiting the island easy. One of Seattle’s most exclusive neighborhoods, Mercer Island’s lightly traveled and sweeping roads are an area favorite for riders. On clear days, the south side of the loop provides a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier.
Interested in coffee or a snack? Shawn’s Cafe is a hidden gem. Try the pretzel rolls—they’re excellent!
Gas Works Park, Discovery Park, Ballard Locks, and Golden Gardens
One of Seattle’s most scenic rides, this route takes you through three beautiful parks and across the Ballard Locks that control the entrance to Lake Washington from Puget Sound. Start on the North side of Lake Washington at Gas Works Park, a city park built around the rusted remains of an old gasification plant with a great view of the Space Needle. From there, cross the Fremont Bridge (or turn around and go up the hill to visit Fremont’s most famous resident first), and ride to Discovery Park to visit the Lighthouse before testing yourself up the hill on the way out. Take a relaxing ride to the Ballard Locks where you have to dismount and walk across—but it’s a good chance to catch your breath while you watch the boats pass. Finally, hop on the Burke-Gilman and ride North to Golden Gardens and take in sandy beaches and a beautiful view of the Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
For food and drink, stop at Fremont Brewing for beer or Ballard Coffee Works for espresso and a snack.
Burke Gilman and Sammamish
Searching for something easier or just want to find an simple route to get base miles? The Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River Trails are for you. The Burke-Gilman is a converted railroad track that runs from Fremont to Bothell where it connects to the Sammamish River Trail (aptly named as it follows alongside the Sammamish River). Burke-Gilman is 30.7 miles each direction and connections can be made to other trails and hills though the total length of the Sammamish River Trail. Several bald eagles nest along the trail and early morning rides through the mist can offer particularly rewarding scenery.
For food and drink, stop at Redhook or the bike-friendly spot: Brewery 192.
Reachable only by ferry, Vashon Island is one of Seattle’s most impressive rides. Though various routes exist, the most popular loop is roughly 50 miles long. Only being accessible by ferry means Vashon maintains a rural feel despite being so close to Seattle. Check out the lighthouse, the views of the sound, and the bike tree.
For food and drink, stop at The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie, which was the first business to sell Seattle’s Best Coffee.
Lake Sammamish Loop
Want to pace yourself against the Element guys? The Lake Sammamish Loop is a 25 mile route counter-clockwise around Lake Sammamish. Starting from Element head south along the West Lake Sammamish to Issaquah and then back up East Lake Sammamish. This relatively flat loop only has about 750 feet of climbing and includes plenty of spots to open up the throttle. If you’re looking for more elevation, the three climbs of Lakemont, Montreaux, and Cougar Mountain at the south end of the lake will challenge most riders.