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Hike of the Week for Friday, May 13, 2011

Interurban Trail

Traipse along an old trolley line through suburban Snohomish County

Article and photo by Craig Romano

Interurban Trail
Big trees line the trail as it passes through
suburban Snohomish County.

Quick Facts

Location: Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds and Lynnwood

Land Agency: Snohomish County Parks

Roundtrip: 5.0 miles

Elevation Gain: Minimal

Contact: Snohomish County Parks; www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/Departments/Parks

Notes: Dogs permitted on leash.

Access: From I-5 take exit 178. Head west on 236th Street SW which eventually becomes Lakeview Drive. After about one mile, reach Lake Ballinger Park; park here.

Usually when one thinks about hiking in Snohomish County, the densely populated western reaches of the county aren’t considered. Granted, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, and Everett are generally places where people live, work and shop, not hike. But don’t discount these places when it comes to trails; for one of the county’s longest trails, the Interurban Trail traverses these communities and ties them together.

Nearly 20 miles long and running from Mountlake Terrace on the King-Snohomish County border all the way Everett and tying in with the Lowell Riverfront Trail; the paved Interurban Trail offers plenty of short hiking opportunities. While mostly used as a bicycling and running path and favored by cycling commuters, this trail also offers some pleasant walking. Parts of the trail utilize sidewalks along roadways, but the majority of the trail is a separate path, and the southernmost section from Lake Ballinger Park to the Lynnwood Transit Center on 44th Ave offers some of the nicest walking along this former trolley line.

From Lake Ballinger Park walk the sidewalk along Lakeview Drive to access the southern terminus of the trail. En route pass a small wetland area with a short and pleasant nature trail. Now walk north primarily through residential areas, but with enough big trees lining the way to make the area feel less urban than it is. A few underpasses have been built at busy intersections while other crossings require short detours—all signed and all pedestrian safe.

From 1910 until 1939 this trail corridor served as a rail line for electric trolleys running between Seattle and Everett. In essence a form of light rail, interurban lines serviced metropolitan areas all across America, until automobiles eventually gained more favor. This interurban line was the last to remain in service in Washington. There are some historic displays along the trail. Try to imagine what it was like back then, when Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood didn’t even exist—and Edmonds and Everett were confined to their waterfronts.

Today this trail not only reminds of us of a past transportation mode but is increasingly being used as a transportation route by bicycle commuters. Contrast the freedom of movement along the trail next to clogged I-5 and quickly see its appeal. County and park officials would like to someday link this trail with the Interurban Trail in Shoreline making it possible to bike or hike between Seattle and Everett without resorting to busy roads.

Enter our new contest to win two of my guidebooks (Day Hiking North Cascades and Day Hiking Central Cascades). Just correctly guess how much snow will be on the ground at the Paradise Ranger Station at Mt Rainier National Park on Father's Day (June 19). Visit www.snohomish.org/index.php?page_id=597 for details and to make your prediction!

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