The Perfect Fall Family Day in Issaquah, WA

When Visit Issaquah reached out to see if we’d be willing to share Discover the Eastside’s favorite Fall activities in Issaquah, WA, our response was an ecstatic “YES!” Over the past couple decades, we’ve lived, worked and played in Issaquah; and as we’ve grown from a young married couple to a family of three, our love for this charming town has only multiplied.

Nestled in the foothills of the Issaquah Alps and bordering the shores of Lake Sammamish, Issaquah is the perfect place to experience the natural beauty that unfolds as Fall arrives in the Pacific Northwest. If you’ve read our Eastside Overview you know that while Summer brings our favorite weather, Fall is hands down the most gorgeous season here on Seattle’s Eastside. The photogenic changing of the leaves, along with cool crisp mornings and warm afternoons, bring a cozy vibe to our corner of the world that we look forward to every year.

Our perfect Fall day is packed with fun for families of all ages, and features all outdoor activities that are all a mere 10-15 minutes from one another. Whether you’re heading out on a day trip or playing tourist in your own town, consider giving this Fall Family itinerary a try!

First Things First: Coffee, Tea and Breakfast at Issaquah Coffee Company

Be sure to make the first stop of your day a visit to Issaquah Coffee Company. For over 10 years owner Mike has been brewing up coffee and community at this quaint coffee house in historic Gilman Village. In addition to their fabulous coffee and tea-based beverages they offer a large selection of pastries and other treats, breakfast wraps, ciabatta melts and more, from local partners such as North Bend Bakery and Homegrown sandwich shop. For the health conscience crowd they serve up plant-based breakfast items from Plant Life Meals, smoothies, and a variety of other vegan and vegetarian options.

On our visit we enjoyed an outdoor breakfast of spinach feta quiche, and lattes presented with a perfect Fall touch. We also grabbed some goodies to-go for fuel on our morning adventures – the Plant Life Meals vegan blueberry muffin and a lemon blueberry scone. For tea drinkers, the house made chai latte is a must-try. We’ve been frequenting “ICC” as we call it for over five years and have yet to be disappointed by anything we’ve sampled.

Know before you go: Issaquah Coffee Company is located at 317 NW Gilman #47, Issaquah, WA, 98027. They can be found on the Southwest side of Gilman Village, and have plenty of free parking available near the shop. They’re open daily from 7AM-6PM – early enough for those heading out on a full day of adventures. An abundance of outdoor seating is offered directly outside of Issaquah Coffee Company and all around the Gilman Village outdoor shopping center. If you’ve found yourself off to a late start, they also offer online ordering through the Joe Coffee App and an easy outdoor pickup window.

Morning Outdoor “Choose Your Own” Adventure: Hiking to Issaquah’s Famous Poo Poo Point and/or a Visit to Cougar Mountain Zoo

Depending on the age and interests of your family we recommend trying out either or both of the following morning adventures: a hike up to Tiger Mountain’s Poo Poo Point, and a visit to Cougar Mountain Zoo. Those with younger children should plan on anywhere from 2-3+ hours for the hike, and 1.5-2 hours for a visit to the small zoo.

Hiking to Poo Poo Point via Chirico Trail

Panoramic View from the North Launch Pad on Top of Poo Poo Point

Some of the best views offered by the Issaquah Alps can be found by hiking a little less than 4 miles round trip on the Chirico Trail, up to Poo Poo Point and back. Over the course of about 1,500 feet in elevation gain, hikers will make their way through the forests of Tiger Mountain, up to the first main viewpoint and South Launch pad (used by paragliders that frequently use Poo Poo Point as a take-off spot for flights). Be sure to continue another quarter mile or so to the main North Launch viewpoint, for spectacular panoramas of Issaquah, Lake Sammamish, Bellevue, and beyond. We recommend having some hiking experience prior to attempting Chirico Trail, and using caution near the viewpoints, especially with your young ones. 

Know before you go: Trail head parking for Chirico Trail is located just off of Issaquah-Hobart Road, past SE 111th  St. Parking is free, but the lot is relatively small, so we recommend arriving early. There is additional street side parking, and some local residents that offer affordable paid parking on their properties if you’re still not able to find a spot.  When mapping to the trail head, be sure you don’t confuse the Chirico Trail with the nearby “Poo Poo Point Trail,” a 7 mile out and back hike that is a longer, and more difficult route up to Poo Poo Point and starts near Issaquah High School.  

Visiting Cougar Mountain Zoo

Views of Lake Sammamish and Zoo Grounds at Cougar Mountain Zoo

After your trek up Tiger Mountain, head on over to neighboring Cougar Mountain to view some real-life cougars! Established in 1972, the Cougar Mountain Zoo is a small non-profit focused on conservation through education. They feature many endangered species and hands-on opportunities for youth to learn more about the importance of wild-life preservation. Just a few of the animals you’ll encounter on your visit include cougars, tigers, wallabies, emu, wolves, and an all-time kid favorite – reindeer. 

Know before you go: Cougar Mountain Zoo is located at 19525 SE 54th St, Issaquah, WA, 98027. Visitor hours are Wednesday-Sunday, 9:30AM-5:00PM, January-November. During the month of December they host the Issaquah Reindeer Festival with separate hours and admittance.

More Exploring at the Zoo

Afternoon Grubs and More Outdoor Fun: A Pizza Picnic at Lake Sammamish State Park

Long after the summer crowds die down, there’s still plenty of fun to be had at Lake Sammamish State Park. With two large, sandy beaches, several playgrounds, and trails for exploring, it’s easy for the hours to pass by at this serene location. After your morning adventures be sure to pick up some picnic fare to bring along for lunch at the park. For a warm, kid-friendly, grab-and-go meal, we highly recommend Tuscan Stone Pizza. Their wood-fired pizza food truck lives right at the intersection of SE 56th St and E Lake Sammamish Parkway. You’ll see their set-up in the Value Village parking lot, just a couple miles down from Lake Sammamish State Park. They serve up fresh made pies starting at 11AM Monday-Saturday, and Noon on Sundays.

Once you head on over to Lake Sammamish State Park, you’ll find an abundance of picnic tables and grassy areas for lounging. If you’re not fully worn out from your morning adventures, take a wander down the wetland interpretive trail off the North end of Sunset Beach. This quarter-mile long trail follows the salmon-bearing Issaquah Creek to it’s entry into Lake Sammamish.

Know before you go: Lake Sammamish State Park is located at 2000 NW Sammamish Rd, Issaquah, WA, 98027. Be sure to map to the main Park entrance and not the boat launch a couple miles down the road. A Discover Pass is required for parking and can be purchased onsite at $11.50 per day, or $35 for a one year pass valid at all Washington State Parks. Bring a change of clothes or towel for little adventurers who make their way into the sand or water.  

A Nostalgic Night Out: Dinner at Triple XXX Root Beer

The final stop of our day is at the last standing historic Triple XXX Root Beer Drive-In on the West Coast. Since 1968 this family owned burger joint has been serving up 1950’s style burgers and fries (the kind you can actually tell came from a potato), alongside other fried seafood and veggie burger options. Trying a frosty mug of their classic root beer is a must.  

A Classis Root Beer Float at Triple XXX Root Beer

The nostalgia of the old school rock n’ roll music playing outside, plexiglass sign (the largest lit plexiglass sign in the West!), and coin operated kids’ rides will make your family feel as though you’ve taken a trip back in time. They offer plenty of lit, outdoor seating, and a convenient outdoor order/pickup window.

Know before you go: Triple XXX Root Beer is located at the intersection of Gilman Boulevard and Front Street, at 98 NE Gilman Blvd., Issaquah, WA, 98027. They’re open daily from 11AM-8PM and are cash only. They do have an atm onsite if needed.

An Eastside Cities Comparison Part II : The Eastside by Numbers

As part two in a three part series, this article provides some quick stats behind six of the largest suburbs East of Seattle, and serves as supplemental information to Part One of the series, which introduces readers to a comprehensive overview of the Eastside region. The third (and final) installation of the series share more in depth information about each of the main individual cities, and serves as a guide for those looking to choose an Eastside city to relocate to.

For purposes of this article, we focus on the following cities: Issaquah, Sammamish, Redmond, Bellevue, Woodinville and Kirkland. For sake of comparison, we have also provided information for some of the data sets for the city of Seattle as well. Being the largest city in Washington and just a short drive from the Eastside, it can be a helpful reference point.

Information on the sources used in the article can be found throughout and at the end of the page. Please keep in mind that these stats can (and do) vary each year, so are meant to be a starting point for readers to reference. Data includes the most accurate information we could access at time of publishing (September 2020), much of which was sourced from the most current census.gov information.

Without further ado, let’s get to know some of the numbers behind the Eastside! Keep on scrolling to read through the article in its entirety, or use the quick links below to navigate to information about a specific data set.

HELPFUL TIP: When viewing on a mobile device, we recommend viewing in portrait mode (in other words “turn your phone sideways!”) for better viewing of the data tables.

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

Table of contents:


Eastside City Sizes & Location

CitySquare MilesMiles from SeattlePopulation Size
Issaquah11.41739,509
Sammamish18.52066,000
Redmond16.91471,929
Kirkland17.81293,000
Bellevue36.511148,164
Woodinville5.62013,000
Seattle83.9NA753,675
Data collected from census.gov and google maps

Eastside Diversity & Demographics

City% Non-White% Born
Outside US
Median Age
Issaquah36%26%37.6
Sammamish39%28%41.1
Redmond49%40%34.0
Kirkland28%23%35.8
Bellevue50%38%37.4
Woodinville22%16%38.1
Seattle36%19%35.2
All data for this chart is from Census.gov, 2018 data (averages from 2014-2018 time period)

% Born Outside US: Rounded to the nearest tenth


Household Make-Up

CityMedian
Household
Income
Median #
Household
Members
Median
Home Price
Issaquah$101,5002.4$564,000
Sammamish$165,3003$749,000
Redmond$123,0002.5$632,000
Kirkland$109,7002.4$608,000
Bellevue$112,0002.5$737,000
Woodinville$100,3002.4$577,000
Seattle$85,5622.1$605,200
All data for this chart is from Census.gov, 2018 data (averages from 2014-2018 time period)

Median Home Price = Median value of owner occupied housing


Parks & Trails

While there was no single source we could find that offered the exact park counts for each city, the below approximations were taken from the respective city government websites. As you’ll quickly find when exploring the content on our site, the Eastside is full of green spaces, trails, mountainsides and preserves that make it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and families.

City# of State
Parks
Approx.
# of City
Parks
Approx.
Miles of
Trails
Issaquah120+200+
Sammamish013+unknown
Redmond045+59+
Kirkland255+unknown
Bellevue080+92+
Woodinville05+unknown
Public park counts were taken from City government websites

Dining & Imbibing

While individual data for each city was not readily available, the following highlights are worth mentioning.

Dining: Bellevue takes the crown for most dining options on the Eastside, with 296 restaurants listed on their Visit Bellevue website.

Wineries: Woodinville currently claims close to 100 wineries that make up the nationally renowned “Woodinville Wine Country.”

Breweries: The Eastside is home to over 20 breweries and growing, the most of which (7) are also located in Woodinville.


Sources

Data from this article was sourced from the following websites:

Kanishka Redmond: Redmond’s Must-Try Indian Food Restaurant

Kanishka Cuisine of India, located in Redmond, WA, is a vegetarian food haven, and absolute must-try on Seattle’s Eastside. Kanishka has been a favorite of ours since first trying them about five years ago – their rich, savory, Northern Indian offerings are complimented with some unique fusion dishes we’ve not found anywhere else, and their menu that pleases meat-eaters and plant-based diners alike makes it a well-rounded choice for any group dining experience. While there is some stiff competition for Indian food on the Eastside, Kanishka is definitely our favorite both in Redmond, and the greater Eastside as a whole.

Kanishka recently opened a pick-up based store front right next to their full service restaurant that makes placing and picking-up of to-go orders a breeze, prompting us to make our first visit back since COVID. Read on for our full review and to find out what keeps us coming back for more, at Kanishka Redmond.

Kanishka Cuisine of India Menu

The Menu at Kanishka’s is absolutely huge. They offer complete appetizer and entree menus for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike – something you don’t find a whole lot of on the Eastside. Over the years we have sampled over 15 different menu items and have never been dissapointed. Their Northern Indian cuisine focuses on curries, creamy dishes, rice based offerings, items from the tandoor (clay or metal oven), and more. Some menu highlights include:

Vegetarian Appetizers: Deep fried paneer (fresh Indian cheese), samosas (filled and fried savory pastries) and gobi manchurian (a Chinese fusion dish of deep fried cauliflower with Chinese herbs and Manchurian sauce) are perfect starters for hungry diners.

Non-Vegetarian Appetizers: Lamb samosas, chicken manchurian, and Kanishka crab cakes offer meat-based starter options.

Vegetarian Entrees: Over 25 vegetarian entrees, including vegan options, are features on their vegetarian menu. Lentils, paneer, and potatoes show up in dishes frequently, combined with rich mouth-watering sauces including korma, masala, saag and more.

Non-Vegetarian Entrees: The same flavorful masala, saag, vindaloo and other sauces compliment chicken, seafood, and lamb entrees on their non-vegetarian menu.

Bread: Naan, an oven-baked flatbread is a crowd favorite and must-order side. Kanishka offers it in several flavors, as well as other flatbreads such as paratha and kulcha.

Rice/Biryani: Biryani (a mixed rice dish) is offered in 10 varieties, as well as a few other seasoned rice options. All vegetarian and meat entrees come with a standard, unseasoned basmati rice.

Samosas, Gobi Manchurian, and Saag Paneer, with Naan and Rice, from Kanishka Redmond

Taste-Tested at Kanishka

One of our favorite ways to experience Kanishka’s offerings in the past has been at their lunch time buffet, offered seven days per week. Since at the time of publishing their in-house dining is not open, during our most recent visit, we had to choose just a few options. For this write-up we tested the following dishes, as they are both full of flavor but also great choices for those new to Indian food and looking for some basic dishes to start with.

Vegetable Samosas: This crispy fried turnover pastry is filled with spiced potatoes, peas and Indian herbs. Their samosas we’re very good sized, and generous on the filling. They were also not overly dry on the inside, as we’ve experienced with some other samosas we’ve tried. The subtle spices are a nice balance to the light pastry, and they were served with sides of chutney for optional added flavor.

Gobi Manchurian: This fusion dish is a must-eat for any meat-eater turned vegetarian that we’ve yet to find at any other restaurants locally. The breaded and fried cauliflower offers a great alternative to fried chicken dishes, and is tossed with a tangy “sweet and sour” style sauce. We ordered it at medium spice level as we enjoy spicy dishes, and it did have a little bite. If you’re shy about spice, we would definitely recommend ordering on the safe side.

Paneer Saag & Basmati Rice: An incredibly rich and creamy dish, saag is made of a puree of spinach, onion, and tomato. The cubes of paneer cheese add a nice chewy texture to the dish, while coriander, ginger, and mild spices provide a perfect finishing taste. We enjoy eating this dish over rice or for loading onto naan bread.

Plain Naan: Ordering some form of flatbread to go along with the meal is an absolute must in our book. Though they offer many varieties of Naan, we always love how plain traditional naan complements the spices and flavors of the other dishes we order. Kanishka’s naan is served warm, and was light, chewy perfection.

Two large dinners! Left-overs not pictured.

Ordering two appetizers, one entree, and one order of Naan bread was enough for two very hungry adults for dinner, plus a small lunch left over. People with more moderate appetites would have easily gotten two full dinners and lunches out of the meal. We we’re very satisfied, as always, with everything we ordered. At right about $40 with tip, the pricing is incredibly reasonable as well!

Additional Information on Kanishka Redmond

At time of publishing, Kanishka is offering to-go orders only. They have a small outdoor dining patio outside of their main restaurant for self-service dining at several well-spaced umbrella tables, or Redmond’s Downtown Park is just a couple blocks away and makes a great spot for a picnic in the park. Though not being offered currently, it’s worth noting again that pre-COVID, and hopefully again soon, Kanishka Redmond offers a full lunch buffet that draws significant lines and crowds during weekends of operation, and for good reason! Their buffet includes both an entirely vegetarian buffet and a separate section that includes meat based entrees, and is a great way to sample a little of everything.

Getting to Kanishka Cuisine of India in Redmond

Kanishka Cuisine of India is located at 16651 Redmond Way, Redmond, WA 98052. It is easy to find and has access off of the main drag through Downtown Redmond, Redmond Way. Coming from SR-520 East, it is just a few minutes from the off ramp.

Five Fall Experiences that are Must-Haves on Seattle’s Eastside

Come late September as summer winds down, and kids are back in school, the cool Fall mornings start to roll in along with all the Fall feels. While this year may look a little different amid the Corona craziness, Fall still arrives on September 22nd 2020 with plenty of opportunity for outdoor adventures and fun. While there are countless things to keep you busy leading up to winter, here are five of our favorite fall activities to enjoy on Seattle’s Eastside.

Fall foliage in Sammamish

1. View the Fall Colors

While Fall might not be the warmest season in the Pacific Northwest, it is for sure the most picturesque. Come September, the trees that define the Eastside’s rolling hills and valleys of farmland go through a magical transition displaying a rainbow of colors before losing their leaves for the year, signaling the new season and leaving the evergreens to shed more slowly throughout winter. This transition is a must-view whether you enjoy photographing the experience or simply “taking it all in.” We’re listing this one first, as there is a short window that is ideal for viewing the changing of colors before the leaves have fallen for the year. While peak viewing season varies from year to year, typically the last week of September into the first couple weeks of October are prime viewing.  

Some of our favorite ways to view fall colors include: a wander through the Bellevue Botanical Garden, a walk, run or ride down the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, or a stroll through Kirkland’s Saint Edward State Park.

A spooky little pumpkin patch at Two Brothers in Carnation

2. Pick a Pumpkin

Some of the last opportunity for a u-pick farm experience before winter hits, is hunting for just the right pumpkin for décor or carving leading up to October’s Halloween holiday. There are tons of spots for pumpkin picking, and a few that offer additional fall harvest entertainment and activities. Some of our favorites that offer both u-pick and pre-picked pumpkins as well as a variety of other outdoor Fall entertainment include Remlinger Farms, Oxbow Farms, and Jubilee Farm in Carnation. Two Brothers Pumpkins, also in Carnation, offers a classic, no frills pumpkin picking experience.

Granite Mountain Lookout Tower Trail

3. Take a Hike

For the true outdoor adventurer, Fall brings some prime hiking opportunities. With the summer heat fading in the rear-view and winter cold yet to come, the weather is perfect for an outdoor adventure.

Some of our favorites that are less traveled in the Fall include:

Gold Creek Pond

At just 1.4 miles roundtrip and virtually no elevation gain, Gold Creek Pond offers a toddler friendly loop trail with stunning views of the surrounding mountainsides, reflected in a tranquil pond.

Franklin Falls

At 2 miles roundtrip and 400 ft elevation gain, the hike along the South Fork Snoqualmie River to Franklin Falls makes the perfect hike for a beginner, young kids, or those looking for a less strenuous outing with a great waterfall view point at the end.

Coal Creek Trail

Located a short drive from Bellevue right in the hillside of Cougar Mountain, the 6 mile roundtrip Coal Creek Trail offers a very moderate 550 ft. of elevation gain perfect for those looking for a longer hike without much elevation gain. This out and back trail leads you to a small waterfall called North Fork Falls.

Granite Mountain Lookout Tower

8.6 Miles Roundtrip and an elevation gain of 3,800 ft. make hiking Granite Mountain a good challenge, while being slightly less traveled than local neighbor Mt. Si. It leads you to one of the highest peaks west of Snoqualmie Pass offering views of much of the central Washington Cascades.

Mount Si

This highly trafficked trail should be a bucket list hike for any in-shape greater Seattle resident or visitor. Not to be confused with nearby “Little Si,” at 8 miles roundtrip and 3,100 ft of elevation gain, it is no small task and should be attempted with preparation. The phenomenal views of the Snoqualmie Valley, Seattle and the Olympic Mountain Range.

4. Sample Some Fall Fare

With Fall comes a fabulous selection of seasonal foods that celebrate the entry into harvest time. When you’re having a hankering for all things pumpkin, squash, salmon or apple, here are some fun spots to head:

Locust Cider (Woodinville): A variety of hard cider offerings including a Dark Maple Hard Apple Cider.

Ginza Japanese Restaurant (Bellevue): Pumpkin Fried Rice, Pumpkin Croquettes, and Pumpkin Spring Rolls are some of the delicious pumpkin finds at Ginza Bellevue.

Top Pot Doughnuts (Redmond, Issaquah, Kirkland, Bellevue): Check out their seasonal specials such as an Apple Cider Cake Doughnut and Pumpkin Cheesecake Bismark Doughnut.

Thai Duvall (Duvall): Their Pumpkin Curry is a must try. They specialize in spicy, so be sure to emphasize if you want an extra tame entree.

The Dining Room at Salish Lodge & Spa (Snoqualmie): We’ve mentioned them before and it’s worth mentioning again – the local, sustainable dishes at The Dining Room feature fabulous seasonal specials including a Pan-Roasted Salmon, served alongside stunning views of the Snoqualmie Falls.

Cactus Southwest Kitchen & Bar (Kirkland, Bellevue): The Butternut Squash Enchiladas feature crisp white corn tortillas, jack cheese, goat cheese, sautéed spinach, roasted butternut squash, and caramelized onions, topped with a delicious mole rojo and guacamole.

Dru Bru Tap Room and Brewery, Snoqualmie Pass
Outdoor seating at Dru Bru Tap Room and Brewery, located at Snoqualmie Pass

5. Celebrate Oktoberfest

We’ll leave the debate about whether pumpkin belongs in beer for the biergarten, and just say that whether you fall on team pumpkin or not, there is seasonal beer aplenty for any taste and preference at one of the Eastside’s 20+ breweries. For a good place to start, check out this article listing the Eastside breweries by City, most of whom offer outdoor seating, and growler fills to-go.

An Eastside Cities Comparison Part I : A Newcomer’s Guide to Living on Seattle’s Eastside

Located just across Lake Washington from the busy hub of Seattle is the area locals refer to as “The Eastside.” A collection of rapidly growing suburbs, the Eastside is full of family friendly neighborhoods, major employers, outdoor escapes, dining options and more, that make it an incredibly appealing place to live. In our opinion, the hardest part about choosing where to live on the Eastside, is having to choose at all! Each city offers it’s own unique flavor and feel, and our hope is that our three part “Eastside Cities Comparison” series will offer a comprehensive resource to assist potential new residents in learning more about the Eastside as a whole, and feel confident in selecting a city best suited for them to call home.

As part one in the series, this article is meant to provide a high level overview of the most common considerations one might make when considering an area for relocation. In it, we’ll provide a snapshot on everything from area climate, major employers, local school districts, and more. Please note that in addition to facts collected, we also offer our own unique opinions in this write-up, and any information presented as such should be taken as that.

Part two in the series, serves as a helpful “at-a-glance” guide to the fact-based data that those looking to relocate to the Eastside may be interested in. The third and final installation takes a deeper dive into the pros, cons, major attractions, and more, of each major Eastside city.

Combined, we have lived in Bellevue, Sammamish, Carnation and Issaquah, and have spent over 30 years as residents on the Eastside. We hope that sharing our experience with you, will help you make a more confident decision to relocate! If you notice information missing from the article that would be helpful for someone new to the area, drop us a line and let us know, and we’ll work on adding it in.

Table of Contents

Use the following links to jump to a section of interest, or scroll on to check out the entire article!

Where is the Eastside?

The suburbs directly East of Seattle and Lake Washington, collectively known to locals as “the Eastside,” have varying definitions in regards to which cities comprise the region. Five cities make up the central hub – Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish, and Issaquah. Surrounding areas including Mercer Island, Newcastle, Woodinville, Bothell, and the greater Snoqualmie Valley, would be considered by many to be extensions of the Eastside region as well. For purposes of this series, we focus on information primarily about the five central hub cities and Woodinville.

An Overview of Seattle’s Eastside

Over the past several decades, the Eastside has undergone a tremendous transformation. As new major employers have taken root and grown in each of the cities that make up the Eastside, so have the housing, amenities, and services offered in and by each of the cities. Originally logging and mining towns that expanded into farming centers, then slowly transformed into a collection of “bedroom communities” for those working in Seattle, the Eastside is now a major technology center and home to the fifth largest city in Washington.

As a result of the growth is a rapidly expanding dining scene, growing line-up of community events, expansion of services and recreational activities, and more. In contrast to the positive outsomes of the Eastside’s growth are the challenges one would expect of a collection of cities in what might be called their “adolescent years” – high traffic due to outdated transportation plans and lack of affordable housing to name a couple. The growing pains associated with these issues seem to be top of mind for the local city governments and partners who are actively working towards solutions.

The Eastside is also an incredibly affluent area. As a whole, it offers some of the lowest crime rates, best school districts, and most well kept neighborhoods, roads, and downtown city centers in our state. Along with this affluence however comes a very high, and rising, cost of living. Like other coastal areas with tech-heavy employment, these costs can create a challenge, particularly for those that may value home ownership over renting.

Aerial image of Downtown Bellevue by Yushi Yang of whatsmynextdestination

In parts two and three of our series, we’ll go more in-depth into the individual descriptions and data behind each of the major Eastside cities, but below is a short summary of what each of the six cities focused on in this article are known for:

  • Woodinville: Located in the heart of the Sammamish River Valley, Woodinville is known for being a monumental part of Washington’s wine country with over 100 wineries and tasting rooms. Scenic farmland, breweries, and bike trails are also abundant in Woodinville.
  • Kirkland: This gorgeous town situated on the East shore of Lake Washington stakes claim as the Eastside’s “waterfront destination.” It’s lakeside downtown core offers boutiques, galleries, dining and more.
  • Bellevue: The largest of the Eastside cities, Bellevue offers the most significant downtown skyline, high-end shopping and dining, as well as Lake Washington access and the third largest institution of higher education in the state.
  • Redmond: Known worldwide as the home of Microsoft, Redmond is a budding tech town with an evolving downtown core and plenty of options for outdoor recreation. King County’s local Marymoor Park is a main attraction, serving as home to an incredible line-up of outdoor summer concerts, sports tournaments, and basecamp for many running and cycling events.
  • Sammamish: A city of trees, Sammamish serves primarily as a residential area for those that work on the Eastside and in Seattle. Being that it is on a plateau without direct freeway access, most visits to Sammamish are by those that live there or are exploring the city’s gorgeous parks and trails.
  • Issaquah: The perfect basecamp to outdoor adventure, Issaquah sits right at the base of the Issaquah Alps and Cascade Mountains, and is home to Lake Sammamish State Park, a regional haven for water activities and beachfront access.

Now that you are familiarized with the location and some general information about the Eastside, read on to find out what makes the Eastside an amazing place to live, and some things you may want to be aware of before potentially making your move.

Eastside Landscape

Even as a resident of over 30 years, it is still impossible to take for granted the amazing landscape that surrounds the Eastside. Each of our Eastside cities offer easy access to lakes, mountains, parks and trails. Overall, while the communities have seen rapid development that has outpaced the road and school infrastructure, our observation is that there has been a priority placed on maintaining a large amount of tree density, nature preserves, and open spaces throughout the region.

Along the shore of Lake Sammamish and throughout the Sammamish River Valley and Snoqualmie Valley you will find flat terrain and farmlands. Outside of that, rolling hills, plateaus and higher peaks offer a variety of views and elevation.

Climate of the Eastside

Despite the Seattle area’s reputation for being one of the rainiest parts of the country, people are flocking to the area like never before. So what is the data behind the reputation, and why do people continue to rave about the area regardless? Let’s take a look. According to Sperling’s Best Places, the US average annual rainfall is 38 inches, while Bellevue’s is 42 inches, so not a huge difference. Average days of precipitation for the US is 106 days per year, while Bellevue’s is 160 (yikes). So while the amount of rain is not a monumental difference, being spread out over so many more days, and accompanied by frequent overcast clouds, does admittedly make it feel like a huge difference. For additional comparison however, days of rain is actually less than other large US cities including Buffallo, Portland, Cleveland and Pittsburgh (based on averages between 1981-2010), making Seattle’s rainy reputation somewhat of just that, a “reputation.” Despite the rainfall that gives Western Washington it’s lush green environment, there is a lot to love about the weather here, as you’ll see.

In our opinion, one of the most appealing parts of living on the Eastside is the experience of all four seasons, without any of which being too extreme. In Western Washington, summer heat rarely hits much above 80 and winter nights don’t often get below freezing. Let’s talk through what to expect out of each of the four seasons. Across the Eastside you’ll see generally the same weather patterns. Variations exist in the higher elevation areas that may see a bit more snow during a winter storm, but other than that variation will be minimal.

Summer: While the adage is that true summer weather doesn’t start in the Pacific Northwest until after the 4th of July, you’ll see weather start transitioning to summer sun and highs in the 70’s around June. Even in July and August heat is tolerable and rarely reaches over 80. As such, most homes are not equipped with air-conditioning units, if that is any indicator of the moderate nature of our summers. Humidity is also a non-issue. It wasn’t until traveling to the East Coast during summer for the first time that I realized I had never ACTUALLY experienced humidity. Bugs are *almost* a non-issue as well. In wetter areas (lakeside, marshes) and in early summer you are bound to encounter the occasional mosquitoes if you spend any time outdoors, but for the most part they are not abundant. During the summer we get a pretty decent dry streak, but expect a couple random rainy summer days. Come September, the slightly cooler weather starts to roll in as things transition to Fall.

Fall: Arguably the most beautiful time of year in the Pacific Northwest, as September turns to October the colors of nature change. Cool foggy mornings lead to warmer sweater-weather afternoons. The mix of deciduous and evergreen trees make for a beautiful backdrop to you commute or outdoor adventure.

As November rolls around we start to see the transition to the wetter months ahead, but you can still get some beautiful crisp Autumn days sprinkled in throughout the month. While there have been years where a small storm or flurry of snow arrived for Thanksgiving, for the most part, the colder winter weather really sets in come December.

Winter: With December comes winter, and with winter comes the wettest and darkest months of the year in Western Washington. The marine layer created off the pacific ocean is most apparent in the winter and spring months when overcast rules the sky. January and February tend to be the most challenging months where residents become a bit stir-crazy for some sun and heat. Our advice: embrace winter outdoor recreation, find yourself some indoor hobbies, and if able, book a warm weather vacation during this time and you’ll be just fine. Though the winters can be wet, one silver lining is that relative to areas that receive constant and heavy winter snow, the winter weather rarely impacts the ability to get outdoors, drive safely, etc.

Over the course of winter expect to get one, maybe two, small snow storms. Seattle receives much criticism to it’s “overreaction” to snow, but given that it is not normal for the area to get large snowfalls and especially not frequently throughout the season, our observation would be that infrastructure, and city operations and supplies, are far less equipped than places such as the mid-west where large amounts of snow are normal all winter long. As such, with even a few inches of snow the news goes wild and traffic, schools, and more may be affected.

A rainy, but beautiful spring scene at Yellow Lake in Sammamish

Spring: As March arrives the weather forecaster might as well just flip a coin. March and April for that matter can be a months of mixed emotion. One day you may receive weather previewing that of summer, while the next be back-stepping to down coats and more rain.

As you can expect, Spring is when local plant life starts to grow and again appear new. March brings flurries of cherry blossoms, leaves start to return to the trees, and local wildlife starts to emerge. The spring weather may be unpredictable, but dress in layers and you’ll be prepared to head outside and enjoy plenty to go see and do.

Community

If living in a diverse, progressive area is a priority for you, you’ll find yourself right at home on the Eastside. Vibes of the area tend to be relatively liberal and laid back, but with the hustle and bustle of a very corporate town and culture. There is a vibrant atmosphere around large and small community gatherings, as you’ll read about in our events section below

The high volume of new residents means there are constantly plenty of people starting from scratch looking to make new social connections in the area. As such, there are very active local meetup and facebook groups dedicated to connecting those living in the same city or with the same hobbies. Despite the running reputation of the greater Seattle area as being home to the “Seattle Freeze” (a community that gives the cold shoulder, or does not feel the most welcoming), we have found making relationships here to be a non-issue.

For us, as we’ve evolved through various phases of life, so have our friendship circles and the people we spend the most time with. As adults living in the area, many of our social connections have been formed with coworkers. We have also formed community through faith groups, our hobbies, and life as parents. All this to say, if you’re looking for community, and willing to put even a small amount of effort in to find it, you will find what you seek. Even as long-time residents, many of our closest friendships are with those that have recently moved here, and that we have made in the past five years, so don’t let “the freeze” be a fear factor that deters you from moving to the Eastside.

Housing on the Eastside

Of all the things that may discourage someone from moving to Western Washington, housing costs are sure to be one of the most significant. While Seattle and surrounding areas have some of the highest minimum wages and full-time salaries in the country at time of publishing, they also have a high cost of living to accompany the high pay.

Average home and rent prices have recently seen rates at 2.5x plus that of the national averages and still trending upwards, though we have yet to see what effects the coronavirus crisis may have on housing in the area. If you’re willing to spend some time looking, and are flexible in what area or size of housing you are looking for, there are definitely ways to live on the Eastside for less. At the end of the day, housing cost is high for a variety of reasons (growing population, low housing inventory, desirable communities, high paying employers) BUT it is an absolutely awesome place to live, it is just a matter of determining if that cost is worthwhile and sustainable for you. Affordable housing is definitely a constant conversation of leadership of the Eastside cities, and hopefully will be proactively addressed in coming years.

Eastside Employers and Income Levels

A vast amount of large employers have Eastside headquarters or office buildings, a few being Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Costco Corporate, and SanMar. Other large employers are the City governments, local medical providers (three major hospitals), school districts, and service/hospitality industries. In general, pay in the Greater Seattle area is higher than nationwide averages, but as mentioned, so is cost of living. Before accepting a new position, we do recommend doing a bit of housing research, and negotiating relocation support when able.

Getting Around the Eastside

As previously mentioned, transportation is one of the pain points of the local area. That being said, it doesn’t HAVE to be for you, and there are some major “pros” to the transportation set-up of the Eastside as well.

A significant amount of the transportation around the area is done so via two main Interstates and a State Route. Running West to East and vice versa is Interstate 90 (I-90) and State Route 520 (SR-520). I-90 begins in South Downtown Seattle, and heads East through Mercer Island and Bellevue, then on to Issaquah, Snoqualmie Pass and beyond. It actually runs all the way across the US! SR-520 begins in North Seattle near the University of Washington, and heads East through Bellevue and on to Redmond. Running North to South and vice versa is Interstate 405 (I-405). I-405 begins in the South end in Tukwilla, and ends in the North in Lynwood. Along the way it connects the Eastside cities of Bellevue, Kirkland, and Bothell. Both I-90 and SR-520 intersect I-405 as they pass through Bellevue. These three main roads have become increasingly congested, particularly due to the volume of commuters traveling about the Eastside and Greater Seattle on a daily basis. Both I-405 and SR-520 have instituted tolls/fee based lanes in recent years.

Helping alleviate some of the traffic congestion in the area are the two main public transportation agencies that serve the region: King County Metro and Sound Transit. Offering mass transportation via bus lines, vanpools and more, these agencies are highly utilized by Eastside locals, especially commuters and students.

Just on the horizon is the most significant improvement to transportation on the Eastside in recent history: the Sound Transit East Link Light Rail. The two Eastside lines that will make up “East Link” are a part of a greater 112 mile network of light rails around the greater Seattle area that will offer traffic-free mass transit commutes. The East Link will connect Downtown Seattle to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond, and is slated to be operational in 2023.

Aside from motor vehicle transportation, a pretty comprehensive paved bicycle trail system exists connecting Issaquah to Bellevue via the I-90 Trail (Mountains to Sound Greenway). This route is a combination of paved bike-only trails and bike lanes. East of Issaquah the trail is a mix of surfaces eventually turning to only gravel once you make it out to the Snoqualmie/North Bend area.

You will also find the Eastlake Sammamish Trail that starts in Issaquah and takes you to Redmond. This trail follows and old rail grade along the shore of Lake Sammamish. There is still a few miles of gravel at time of publishing, but there are plans to pave the entire trail currently in the works. This trail flows right into the Sammamish River Trail which will take you from Redmond to the North where it passes through Woodinville and Bothell, turns into the Burke-Gilman Trail, and finally takes you around Lake Washington and into Seattle. These trails provide great routes for alternative transportation for many in the area.

In regards to air travel, one major “pro” of living on the Eastside is access to the Seattle-Tacoma (or “Sea-Tac”) International Airport that is a short distance away, and being an international airport offers a plethora of flight options.

Education

Another one of the top reasons many families specifically choose the Eastside to reside, are the undeniable education options and quality.

Some of the top rated school districts not just in the state, but the entire country are located on the Eastside. The award-winning Lake Washington School District serves Sammamish, Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue and Woodinville. Consistently top-rated Mercer Island, Issaquah, and Bellevue School Districts serve their respective communities.

In addition to the top ranked Public Schools in the area, there is also a plethora of Private School options – from faith based institutions, to tech-focused STEM schools. Charter and alternative schools abound, as well as lively homeschooling communities and co-ops.

Higher Education options on the Eastside include Bellevue College, Lake Washington Technical College, Digipen Institute of Technology, Northwest University, University of Washington Bothell Campus and more. The Eastside also offers easy bus access to Seattle’s University of Washington campus, as well as Seattle University and Seattle Pacific University.

In summary, if quality and options for education of all ages are a priority, the Eastside makes for a smart choice.

Outdoor Recreation

One of the biggest draws for visitors, that residents get to enjoy year-round, is the amazing access to and abundance of local outdoor recreation. With opportunities to get outside year-round there is no shortage of ways to get or stay active no matter the month.

In summer you’ll find that Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish offer an abundance of motorized and non-motorized water sport activities, and our smaller lakes such as Beaver or Pine Lake in Sammamish are the perfect spot for an open water swim or a stand-up paddle boarding session. The Snoqualmie, Tolt, and other Rivers offer places to float, fish and explore.

Come Fall you’ll experience peak hiking season in the Cascades and surrounding foothills, and beautiful Fall colors to accompany an on or off-road bike ride. In the winter months, Snoqualmie Pass (about 30 minutes East of Issaquah) offers snowboarding, skiing, snow-tubing and other winter sport opportunities.

With Spring starts the unpredictable but often gorgeous weather and spring blooms, as well as a comprehensive schedule of outdoor endurance events such as running races, organized bike tours, and more.

So, if you enjoy any or all of the following, : hiking, running, biking, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, golfing, (lazing on the beach?), then be sure to add the Eastside to your list of places for potential new residence.

Eastside Events

From festivals to food trucks, parades to wine walks, the annual line-up of events big and small are a highlight of life on the Eastside. While there is no large indoor venue that will bring “headliner bands” or stadium that National sports teams call home, those things can be found just a short bus ride away in Downtown Seattle. What the Eastside does offer however, is a plethora of options for those that love a classic summer festival, outdoor concerts, year-round athletic endurance events, Holiday festivities and more.

Just a few of the seasonal highlights include:

Winter: During Winter, Downtown Bellevue is a holiday themed hub with a magical display of lights presented at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens and Snowflake Lane, a nightly holiday parade complete with fake “snow” that shuts down part of Bellevue Way each evening at 7PM. In Redmond, the annual Redmond Lights event takes attendees on a luminary walk to experience lights, live music and activities in downtown Redmond, and local shopping center Redmond Town Center hosts a carousel, train rides and other winter fun.

Spring: The unpredictable weather of spring can bring both gorgeous sunny skies, but also surprise rain showers, that makes hosting outdoor events quite unpredictable, and hence brings the slowest season for events on the eastside. Early on in the Spring Redmond’s Festival of Color brings a vibrant cultural celebration to downtown Redmond, and heading into May Cascade Bike Club hosts the Flying Wheel – a variety of bike tour distances that explore the gorgeous Snoqualmie Valley, and start and end at Redmond’s Marymoor Park. Rounding out the end of Spring, every Father’s Day weekend the Washington Brewers Festival brings an all-ages outdoor brew fest to Redmond’s Marymoor Park to experience over 100 microbreweries (for those 21+) and food trucks, live music, and a kids’ inflatable play zone.

Summer: Summer is by far the most active time for events on the Eastside. Each city has their own local versions of small outdoor offerings such as movies or concerts in the park. Some of the larger events include: Bellevue Arts Fair, Redmond Derby Days, and Kirkland SummerFest. Woodinville’s Chateau St. Michelle Winery hosts big-name outdoor concerts as does Redmond’s Marymoor Park. Those looking for low key music, food trucks and activities on a smaller scale enjoy attending one of the Eastside’s many local Farmers Markets, while the athletically inclined gravitate towards the many half marathons and bike events or the Eastside Triathlon held at Lake Sammamish State Park.

Fall: Issaquah’s Salmon Days, one of the largest festivals on the Eastside, ushers in Fall with nostalgic fun such as a carnival, parade, fair food, along with beer gardens and live music for the 21+ crowd. For the Fashion Forward, Bellevue’s Fashion Week brings the best of fall fashion to life on the runways of the Bellevue Collection.

Arts and Culture

Those looking to experience the arts and cultural activities on the Eastside will find a welcoming, growing community of organizations that encourage and support these efforts.

Across the Eastside cities you’ll find a wonderful variety of outdoor public art, commissioned installations, and government funded support for programs including artistic grant opportunities and public calls for art. A handful of non-profit organizations like VALA Eastside, whose mission is to create non-traditional venues for artists, and Centro Cultural Mexicano and Vedic Cultural Center do amazing work to advance the artistic and cultural representation in our communities as well.

Many of the opportunities to experience art in the community are tied to the various events (see above section) however, in addition to the outdoor concerts, plays and performances that take place during summer, performing arts thrive year-round indoors at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center, Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center, and Village Theater in Issaquah.

For those that prefer a low-key art viewing experience, numerous galleries are scattered throughout Kirkland, Issaquah, and Bellevue, and the Bellevue Arts Museum offers a variety of rotating exhibitions.

Shopping, Dining, and Nightlife

The Eastside dining scene has, and is, expanding rapidly. Downtown Bellevue offers a fine-dining hub, while the surrounding Eastside cities have gone from fairly “vanilla” offerings to include far more cultural cuisine, unique pop-ups, food truck venues, and foodie destinations. Check out our Eat + Drink section of our website for some great ideas for Eastside dining choices.

While each Eastside city has it own respective collections of boutique shops, for those looking for larger central shopping centers the Eastside mecca of the Bellevue Collection, encompassing Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place, and Lincoln Center, has over 200 shops and 50 restaurants all within a few block radius in Downtown Bellevue. Those looking for unique outdoor shopping experiences will love the boutique shops at Issaquah’s historic Gilman Village, or Redmond Town Center.

Perhaps where some might say the Eastside falls short, is for those looking for a vast array of nightlife options. Those looking for a big-city club scene would be best served by hopping an Uber to Seattle. However, if couture cocktails, comedy clubs, or a swanky bowling experience is your thing check out Downtown Bellevue in the evening. The Kirkland waterfront also appeals to a younger crowd with a handful of live music and DJ dance floor options. If dancing and cocktails is not your vibe, and a simple brew will do, there’s enough breweries to keep you busy for quite sometime (over 20 to be exact). Wine lovers will find that the Woodinville Wine Country offers low-key evening activities and plenty of opportunities for imbibing entertainment.

Family Life

As one would surmise based on the incredible education system, outdoor recreation opportunities, and lively events line-up, the Eastside makes an incredible location to raise a family.

Aside from what has already been mentioned, some of the other things that make family life wonderful on the Eastside include an incredible local library system, great network of community centers, YMCAs, and sports organizations, and plenty of opportunities for art, music, STEM, and other enrichment activities if desired.

Top of the line healthcare options and providers and a multitude of religious organizations provide important support systems to serve local families as well.

Welcome Home

So, what do you think? We’re a bit biased but, we think you’ll love it here on the Eastside! We’re always happy to answer questions and help direct you to resources we’ve found helpful over the years. Just drop us a line and let us know how we can help! See you on the Eastside.

Riding Issaquah’s Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park

Arguably one of the top mountain biking destinations in Washington state, Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park is a spectacular spot for those looking to cut loose on the trails and get a little dirty.  With something for everyone, this park caters to riders of all skill levels – from the little balance bike aficionados to the bold and daring searching for opportunities to catch air.

About Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park

Nestled on the edge of the Issaquah-Sammamish Plateau, hiding within 120 acres of Pacific Northwest forest, you’ll discover over six miles of intertwined mountain bike trails that make up Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park. A central activity area serves as basecamp to the flowy single-track (bike width) trails that start and end in the central clearing. 

The variety of trail types at Duthie include:

  • Cross-Country (XC) trails offering a combination of climbing and endurance riding for various skill levels, from beginner to advanced
  • Freeride trails, for more downhill riding focused on jumps and complex trail features
  • Jump Lines (rows of jumps) for those looking to get airborne

Location

The park is about ten minutes from Issaquah off of I-90 (as of writing there is construction causing a detour to the park adding 5-10 minutes), or about five minutes south of Hwy 202 off of Duthie Hill Rd.  There are two parking lot options for the park – a main entrance located at 26300 SE Issaquah-Fall City Rd. Issaquah, WA , and a second, smaller lot located off SE Duthie Hill Rd.  We recommend utilizing the main lot for your visit as there are more spaces available and navigation to the main “access road” trail is an easier ride for newer riders. Both lots can get busy on weekends so we also recommend arriving early to get a parking spot if planning a weekend ride. 

Arriving at Duthie Hill Park

The main entrance to Duthie is well-marked with a large wooden sign. During peak hours (weekend afternoons, and some sunny weekday evenings) if you find the main lot full, give the second lot off Duthie Hill Road a try. On particularly busy days you will also find visitors utilizing street-side parking near the outside of the park and Trossachs Blvd. Do be cautious if riding from street-side parking to Duthie, as surrounding roads are high traffic areas.

Once you have parked, checked your tires for air, and slapped on your helmet, navigating into the park is fairly simple.  

From the main lot, there is a short two-lane path (lanes are one-way only so be aware of signage for that) that will lead you to the park’s access road. The main “access road” trail that runs through the center of Duthie is not open for general car traffic, but occasionally vehicles that are there to service the park or of those offering classes or events in the park have access to utilize the road. As you near the start of the access road, if you look south (right) across SE Issaquah – Fall City Road you will notice the entrance to Grand Ridge Park, another fabulous mountain bike trail system that also appeals to hikers and trail runners. 

Once on the access road, following it as far as it goes will bring you to a large clearing with a shelter in the center.  In total it is about a mile to get from the main parking lot to the central clearing, and is an easy ride with no technical skills required. Congratulations you have now arrived at the heart of Duthie!

If you are entering from the alternate lot, signs will lead you along a short trail that crosses over a long board walk and eventually into the central clearing. The board walk hovers over a marsh that can flood the trail in winter, and as such, in wetter seasons there is always a chance this section may be under water.  Once you are over the board walk stay to the right and follow the entrance trail.  You will have a small climb to get you up to the center of the park.

Riding at Duthie

Once you are at the center, your hardest decision will be where to start! Posted maps utilize a ranking system similar to that of a ski hill, ranking trails based on their difficulty levels.  Markers at each of the trail heads will also alert you before entering each trail as to their respective difficulty levels. Trails marked green are for all experience levels, blue are for more advanced riders, and black trails are the most difficult. 

In the central clearing you will find a large picnic area, logs for seating, and various features for practicing technical skills. There are two pump tracks – a loop of small bumps and banked turns designed to be ridden completely by riders “pumping” up and down body movements instead of pedaling, wooden features for skills practice, and a couple of small jumps. On any given day you’ll find riders of all ages and abilities warming up for rides and learning new skills. Just like all sports, so much of your improvement and enjoyment will come from practice, so don’t be shy about being a novice! On all of our visits, we’ve always found Duthie to have a super friendly and supportive atmosphere.

Choosing a Trail

Beginners: If you are looking for a basic and beginner friendly trail, then Bootcamp is the trail for you.  This may be the easiest trail at Duthie, but it will not cut you short on fun.  There is no steep climbing or difficult features on this route. The first half of the route includes short, gentle climbs and descents, while the second half incorporates some fun downhill mini pump-track like sections. This trail is great for building confidence in younger riders and newer adult riders alike.

Experienced: For riders that have gotten comfortable with Bootcamp, a great next step are the XC options such as Step It Up, Movin’ On, and Braveheart. For those ready to tackle some freeride options we recommend trails like Ryan’s Eternal Flow Line, Big Tree, Double Trouble, and Gravy Train. 

For thrill seekers looking for jump lines (literally lines of jumps) be sure to check out Voodoo Child, Paramount, and Flying Squirrel. 

Learning to Ride

For those just visiting the area or locals looking to learn the ropes with the help of a qualified professional, some great local resources include:

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance: Offers classes, volunteer opportunities in the park, and more. Evergreen actually designed and built the park in partnership with King County and continues to care for and maintain the park.

Progression Cycle: This awesome local bike shop located just over a mile from Duthie offers demo and rental bikes, gear, bikes and parts for sale, and mechanic services. The staff there are friendly, and they offer great, knowledgeable service.

That wraps up our “virtual tour” of Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park. Have a park or trail you’d love to see us cover? Visit our contact page and let us know!

DISCLAIMER: Please note that Mountain Biking involves an inherent risk, and should be approached with caution. It is not the direct recommendation of Discover the Eastside to participate in any of the above activities, especially without proper safety protocols, and is done so at the own risk of our readers.

A Guide to Sammamish’s Soaring Eagle Regional Park

This forested escape is a low-traffic hideaway, tucked in the suburbs of Sammamish. Part of our ongoing series featuring our favorite Eastside parks and trails, read on to find out what you’ll want to know on your first trek through Soaring Eagle.

About Soaring Eagle

Hidden in an unsuspecting suburban setting, King County’s Soaring Eagle Regional Park is located on the North End of the Sammamish Plateau, just up the hill from Highway 202 (Redmond/Fall City Road). This 790 acre wooded retreat contains 12 miles of multi-use trails for walking, running, mountain biking and horseback riding. The trails in Soaring Eagle vary in terrain as you’ll see in our virtual tour below, but are primarily hard pack dirt, with some gravel sections. The mostly-flat “Pipeline Trail” that runs through the center of the park is surrounded by a plethora of short, intertwined side trails with “roller coaster style” elevation changes. The Pipeline Trail makes for an easy, stroller friendly, no-navigation outing that’s just over two miles out and back. The side trails are fabulous for building your trail running or mountain biking technical skills and endurance, but note are not stroller friendly.

Location

About 15-20 minutes from Downtown Redmond, you’ll find Soaring Eagle just a few minutes up the hill from Highway 202, and just a few minutes from the main hub of Sammamish restaurants and shopping centers. The main parking lot for the park can be found at 26015 E Main Dr, Sammamish, WA 98074.

Arriving at Soaring Eagle

Getting to Soaring Eagle is very straightforward, and once you arrive you’ll find clear signage and a small parking lot. With the exception of the weekends that the park hosts running or mountain biking competitions, there is always plenty of spaces to park inside the lot, and overflow street parking is easily found on Main Dr (the road that leads into the park). The trails can also be accessed off of Trossachs Blvd. at the South end of the park, where street parking only is available.

Upon exiting your vehicle and heading over to the trailhead you’ll find the reader board with map and information about local wildlife. We recommend planning out a route beforehand if you’d like to avoid making frequent stops on your outing, as there are quite a few intersections if you choose to venture off the main path. Note that a couple of side trails lead out of the park and over into the neighboring Beaver Lake Preserve, so be aware of your direction and that not all trails will lead you back to the main Pipeline.

Continuing from the entrance and straight onto the Pipeline trailhead you’ll find the main trail, as well as the first off-shoot for a “choose your own adventure” style outing. As you can tell, the thick forest provides a healthy amount of tree coverage making Soaring Eagle a great pick even on the hottest days, as there is plenty of shade to be found. It also provides rain protection, so can be a nice choice on a wetter Pacific Northwest morning. Note that in the winter months, the lower section of the park to the Northeast of the Pipeline Trail does tend to get a bit muddy, so choose your footwear appropriately, or stick to the less muddy trails on the Southwest side.

For hikers and mountain bikers exploring the side trails, be prepared to traverse roots and rocky terrain.

Navigation around the park is relatively well marked, and all intersections we have come across in our frequent outings here have signage (as pictured below) to help you in navigating your way around, and back to your car when you’re done exploring.

That wraps up our “virtual tour” of Soaring Eagle Regional Park. Have a park or trail you’d love to see us cover? Visit our contact page and let us know!

Wandering the Yellow Lake Loop in Sammamish, WA

A serene hideaway for year round urban escapes – this Eastside trail is a perfect loop for young hikers, stroller walkers and casual hikes. Part of our ongoing series featuring our favorite Eastside parks and trails, read on to find out what you’ll want to know on your wander around Yellow Lake.

About Yellow Lake

Tucked away in Sammamish’s Klahanie neighborhood, right on the border where Issaquah Highlands meets Sammamish, you’ll find the low-traffic 1.25 mile loop trail that circumnavigates Yellow Lake. This mostly flat, gravel and soft dirt loop features a wide multi-use trail, grassy picnic area with playground and exercise equipment, and a small dock for viewing the lake and water fowl that call it home.

Location

About 5-10 minutes from Downtown Issaquah, you’ll find Yellow Lake right near the Klahanie North Pool. There is no formal address listed for the park, so we recommend mapping to the pool, located at 4210 244th Pl SE, Sammamish, WA, 98029, then finding street parking on Klahanie Dr SE. The trail head is located right near the large playground and grassy area visible from the road.

Arriving at Yellow Lake

There is no visible signage for Yellow Lake, and only a small sign indicating where the loop trail actually begins. While there are several entry points on/off the trail, we recommend parking on Klahanie Drive SE, the main road that runs through the center of Klahanie as stated above. In our experience, there is always ample street parking available.

Upon exiting your vehicle you’ll head towards the large playground and grass field, and follow the gravel trail to the small bridge and “Loop Trail” sign. Nearby you’ll see the fine restroom facilities (as pictured below).

Continuing straight across the bridge will start you off on a counterclockwise route of “the loop” that begins with an optional trek down to the dock view point. Alternatively, if you turn left at the Loop Trail sign and head clockwise around the lake, you can end your walk with a snack and seat on the dock.

We like to make our first stop a visit to the dock. The ducks are usually there in masses, and expecting to be fed. Per signage on the dock, it is recommended that if you plan to feed the ducks, some safe items include: oats, peas, or corn. Please be respectful of their health and avoid feeding them things like bread or crackers.

Heading back to the trail, you’ll start off on the gentle, wooded terrain, and find peekaboo views of the lake throughout.

Navigation around the loop is very straight forward, and the couple of places with alternative exit/entry points have signage as pictured below. For the ambitious folks looking to get a total body workout in, several body weight exercise stations provide equipment and info-graphics to guide you in some strength training exercises along the way around the lake. Long-distance runners or hikers might pair their outing with some extra miles on the 30+ miles of groomed/paved trails found throughout Klahanie.

Lastly, you’ll end your walk right back where you started (the beauty of a loop trail!) and that wraps up our tour of Sammamish’s Yellow Lake Trail! Have a park or trail you’d love to see us do a virtual tour of? Visit our contact page and let us know!

Discovering the Farmers Markets on Seattle’s Eastside

There’s never been a better year for open-air shopping, fresh and nutritious food, and support of our local farmers and businesses. Fortunately for us Eastsiders, there is a plethora of markets to choose from on a weekly basis offering: a variety of local, in-season produce, farm-fresh eggs, home-baked goods, just-caught seafood and more. In this post we share a complete list of farmers markets around the eastside, to help you find the ones closest to you, or a new one to discover!

At time of publishing all markets listed are open and operational, with the exception of the Woodinville Farmers Market. Do be sure however to check the individual markets’ linked websites before attending, for the most up-to-date operational details.

We intend to refresh this article each year with current times, locations, new markets, etc., so don’t forget to bookmark our link for future reference! Markets are arranged by day of the week, but if you’d like to take a look at where they are by physical location, you’ll find a map of all markets at the bottom of the page.


Tuesdays

Crossroads Farmers Market

Location: Located in the East parking lot of the Crossroads Mall at 15600 NE 8th Street, Bellevue, WA 98008

Hours: Noon – 6:00PM

Dates: Tuesdays, June through September

Vendors: Over 15 vendors including two bakeries, two berry farms, six vendors offering a variety of fresh produce, fresh cut flowers, and more.


Wednesdays

Sammamish Farmers Market

Location: Back at it’s old location near Sammamish City Hall, you’ll find the Sammamish Farmers Market at 704 228th Ave. NE #123, Sammamish, WA 98074. The market is conveniently located next to the upper and lower commons parks for easy access to playgrounds, a splash pad and walking trails.

Hours: 4:00PM – 8:00PM

Dates: Wednesdays, June 3rd through September 16th

Vendors: 10-15 weekly vendors attend offering produce, plant starts, prepared food such as salsas and baked goods, and fresh cut flowers.

Kirkland Wednesday Market

Location: Located at the scenic water-front Marina Park in downtown Kirkland, at 25 Lakeshore Plaza, Kirkland WA 98033

Hours: 3:00PM – 7:00PM

Dates: Wednesdays, June through September

Vendors: The Kirkland Wednesday market offers up the standard produce selection along with some unique favorite vendors including: cheese, kombucha, wine, and a gourmet chocolate company.


Thursdays

Bellevue Farmers Market

Location: Located in a convenient Downtown Bellevue location with ample free parking, you’ll find the Bellevue Farmers Market in the parking lot of the Bellevue Presbyterian Church at 1717 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004

Hours: 3:00PM – 7:00PM

Dates: Thursdays, May 13th through October 7th

Vendors: With over 30 vendors lined up for the 2021 season, you’ll find a healthy array of options on any given Thursday. Some highlights include pints to-go from Bluebird Ice Cream and a couple of weekly food trucks, as well as hard cider and fresh seafood vendors.

North Bend Farmers Market

Location: The North Bend Farmers Market is located at Si View Park, and offers visitors a spectacular view of Mt. Si, in addition to fresh weekly fare. The Park is located at 400 SE Orchard Dr, North Bend, WA 98045

Hours: 4:00PM – 8:00PM

Dates: Thursdays, June 10th – September 9th

Vendors: The North Bend Farmers Market offers 10-15 vendors selling produce, baked goods, kettle corn and more.


Fridays

Juanita Friday Market

Location: You’ll find the Juanita Friday Market along the shore of Juanita Beach Park, at 9703 NE Juanita Drive, Kirkland, WA 98034

Hours: 3:00PM – 7:00PM

Dates: Fridays, June through September

Vendors: Market vendors feature a wide variety of delicious fruits, fresh local produce, and beautiful flowers all grown and produced in the state of Washington.


Saturdays

Issaquah Farmers Market

Location: The Issaquah Farmers Market is located in the parking lot outside the historic Pickering Barn in downtown Issaquah, at 1730 10th Ave NW, Issaquah, WA 98027

Hours: 9:00AM – 2:00PM

Dates: Saturdays, May 1st through September 25th

Vendors: Traditionally one of (if not the) biggest Farmers Markets on the Eastside with a standard of over 70 confirmed vendors.

Redmond Saturday Market

Location: In a new location for the 2020 season, you’ll now find the Redmond Saturday Market located in Parking Lot D of Overlake Christian Church at 9900 Willows Road, Redmond, WA 98052

Hours: 9:00AM – 2:00PM

Dates: Saturdays, May 1st through October 30th

Vendors: In addition to must-try coffee, tea and Samish Bay cheese vendors, you’ll find a hefty line-up of growers, bakers, and more.

Woodinville Farmers Market

Location: Located in the heart of downtown Woodinville at DeYoung Park, the Woodinville Farmers Market is located just across the street from Molbak’s Garden and Home store at 13680 NE 175th St, Woodinville, WA 98072

Hours: 9:00AM – 3:00PM

Dates: Saturdays, May through September

Vendors: Offering a variety of fruit, vegetables, flowers, honey, baked goods and more.


Sundays

Mercer Island Farmers Market

Location: The Mercer Island Farmers Market is located at 7700 SE 32nd Street, Mercer Island, WA 98040

Hours: 10:00AM – 3:00PM

Dates: Sundays, June through September

Vendors: With over 50 vendors lined up for the 2021 season, the Mercer Island Farmers Market has all the favorites plus some awesome specialty vendors we haven’t seen other places including: nuts, seafood, gourmet mushrooms, pickles, olives and pasta.


Map of the Eastside Farmers Markets

Exploring Redmond’s Farrel-McWhirter Farm Park

A must visit spot for free summer fun – this Eastside oasis offers a perfect half-day getaway for families, trail runners, urban hikers and more, looking to enjoy the serenity of nature. The first in our series of features on some of our favorite Eastside parks, read on to find out more of what you’ll discover on your visit to Farrel-McWhirter!

About Farrel-McWhirter

Hidden in the hillside near Redmond’s Novelty Hill Road you’ll find one of the city’s many hidden gems – Farrel-McWhirter Farm Park. This 68-acre property is free to visit, and features a barnyard with farm animals, multi-use trails, picnic areas, and an equestrian arena.

The Park itself is open for daily visits from dawn to dusk, while the Barnyard is open 9am-4pm (but do check the Redmond.gov/parks website before going for any operational updates). In addition to the free self-guided access to the park, Redmond Parks and Recreation offers various paid, on-site programming such as youth equestrian lessons, farm school programs, and more. 

Location

Not far from the intersection where Avondale meets Novelty Hill Road in Redmond, and about 5-10 minutes from Downtown Redmond and State Route 520, you’ll find Farrel-McWhirter Farm Park at 19545 NE Redmond Road, Redmond, WA 98053.

Arriving at Farrel-McWhirter

The signage for Farrel-McWhirter is easy to spot, and ample parking is available at the main entrance site. In our experience, we’ve never had trouble finding parking, with the exception of the few weekends per year that the park plays host to larger community events.

Upon exiting your vehicle you’ll head towards one of the several paved trails that lead into the park, and take you to the large and open grassy fields and picnic areas. There are several picnic tables and benches around the property, as well as swings and a tire swing. Note that there are no actual “play structures” at this park – the fun for kids will be found in exploring nature, and having a visit with the onsite farm animals.

panorama of Farrel-McWhirter
Entering Farrel-McWhirter

Continue to make your way straight ahead to find the property maps, which offer a helpful guide to exploring the park, and trail distances.

Make your first stop a visit to the barnyard, where on any given day you’ll find a combination of: cows, horses, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, and more. Be aware of signs that alert you to which fences are electrified, and of appropriate behavior around the animals (IE no feeding them please!). Outside of barnyard hours, you may still be able to see the horses, cows, or goats in their respective fields.

Between the two barnyard/farm animal enclosure areas, the main paved trail will take you to an open-air barn with seating for picnics, and a nice restroom facility.

Continuing just past the barn you’ll come to the start of the park’s trail system which includes a variety of stroller-friendly paved, hard-pack gravel, and bark trails. For a short out-and-back walk you can head about a half-mile to the horse arena and back, or try venturing onto one of the many side trails which will lead over to the 1.5 mile long perimeter loop that circles the park. For the long-distance runner or hiker, head on over to the 8 mile long Puget Sound Energy Powerline Trail, which links the Sammamish River Trail to Farrel-McWhirter.

That wraps up our tour of Redmond’s Farrel McWhirter Park! Have a park you’d love to see us do a virtual tour of? Visit our contact page and let us know!