Cedar River Trail: Renton to Maple Valley
HIKE DESCRIPTION: The 12-mile section of the Cedar River Trail between Lake Washington and Maple Valley is an easily accessed getaway.
Take off where the planes do, at the trailhead located on the southern end, at the mouth of the river between Boeing and Renton Municipal Airport. The trail quickly passes through town before diving in and out of parks along the river on the way to Maple Valley.
If you spend the gray, wet months pedaling the same nearby trail over and over again, the Cedar River Trail can serve as a nice change of pace. Part of a growing network of Western Washington trails, the trail mostly tracks the Cedar River and state Route 169.
While the trail never gets far enough from the highway to be consistently quiet, it still is quite peaceful as it passes through places like Ricardi Reach and Cedar Grove natural areas.
Tunnels at some intersections mean not having to stop. That’s great for cyclists. So is the light traffic during the fall. However, many cyclists won’t like the posted speed limit: 10 mph. Mind-numbingly slow for most cyclists. Signs also warn of $101 fines for breaking the speed limit. Don’t want to risk it? The highway has a generous shoulder.
DIRECTIONS: To reach the Renton trailhead, follow state Route 167 north to Renton and continue north as the road becomes Rainier Avenue. Turn right on Airport Way and continue on the road as it bends northeast and becomes Logan Avenue. Turn left on North Sixth Street and follow the road as it turns right and becomes Nishiwaki Lane. Continue to the parking area at the end of the road.
DIFFICULTY RATING: 2 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
MILES ROUND TRIP: 24 miles.
ELEVATION GAIN: 300 feet.
BEST TIME OF THE YEAR: Year round.
PASS: None needed.
ALSO: The trail can easily be extended. The entire Cedar River Trail is 17.3 miles, including 5 miles of unpaved trail. The trail intersects with the Green-to-Cedar Rivers Trail in Maple Valley. You can follow the trail to Lake Washington. Using local roads, the trail also can be linked with the Foothills, Sumner Link, Enumclaw’s Foothills and the Interurban trails to make a 78-mile loop. Of that 46.4 miles would be on paved paths. The road section, particularly the 15.5-mile section of state Route 169, might be intimidating for inexperienced cyclists. Dogs must be leashed and cleaned up after. There is a dog park near the trail in Renton. Numerous geocaches are hidden along the trail. Find more information at geocaching.com. The trail is open to horses outside the Renton City limits.