Trails for Beginner Bicyclists

An Asian man and large-sized woman bike along the Eastrail

Bicycling is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, and spend time with family and friends. For new bicyclists, riding paved trails is one of the safest ways to begin exploring our beautiful state. We’ve tracked down the best trail routes around the state of Washington to make it easier for both new and experienced bicyclists to find a safe place for all ages to ride.

Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail

Named for the Wenatchee region's fruit growing heritage, the 22-mile Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail is a paved and concrete multi-use path that spans both sides of the Columbia River through downtown Wenatchee and beyond. The trail passes through four riverfront parks with lots of opportunities for picnics as well as restroom breaks and even camping and swimming at Wenatchee Confluence State Park. Mostly flat, the trail has some short and steep hills on a segment of the trail through East Wenatchee. You can even pump up your ties at an air station at the Porter's Pond Nature Area. Riding this loop is a great way to explore Wenatchee and learn about the area's fruit growing and packing industry on paved surfaces friendly to beginners.

Trail Level: Beginner (some hills)
22 Miles
Starting Point: Wenatchee Riverfront Park (Wenatchee)
End Point: Walla Walla Point Park (Wenatchee)

Bill Chipman Palouse Trail

Washington State University students and professors know this trail well, as it provides a convenient, paved connection between WSU and the University of Idaho and overlaps briefly with the Pullman Loop Trail. A rails-to-trails ride, it includes interpretive signs detailing the ecology, agriculture, and history of the area. For trail users who want to go further, it connects to the Paradise Path in Moscow and the Latah Trail which ends 3.5 miles east of Troy, ID.

Trail Level: Beginner (some gentle hills)
7.1 Miles
Starting Point: SE Bishop Blvd (Pullman)
End Point: Paradise Path (Moscow, ID)

Burke-Gilman Trail

This pride and joy of Seattle is one of the first rails-to-trails in the country. Cascade’s early founders in the 1970s were instrumental in making this trail a reality, and since then it has helped inspire dozens of rails-to-trails projects around the country. The mostly flat asphalt route spans from Ballard to the edge of Woodinville, connecting to the Sammamish River Trail. New riders should exercise caution during the 1.4 mile disruption of the trail along Shilshole Ave NW (known as “the Missing Link”) as well as at numerous busy Seattle intersections near the University of Washington.

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
18.8 Miles
Starting Point: Golden Gardens Park (Seattle)
End Point: 102nd Ave NE (Bothell), where it connects to the Sammamish River Trail

Cascade Trail

For beginners looking for flat, well-maintained gravel trails, this scenic ride through the Skagit River Valley offers stunning views of Sauk Mountain and the Cascade range. There is a short .5 mile detour, but riders have found it easy to traverse. Bike camping is a fun option with nearby Rasar State Park, or just head out for the day to enjoy the shade and ride your bike over the historic Henry Thompson Bridge -- the longest single span cement bridge in the United States at the time of its construction. 

Trail Level: Beginner
22.5 Miles
Starting Point: Polte Rd at Coffman Ln (Sedro-Wooley)
End Point: S. Dillard Ave (Concrete)

Cedar River Trail

A popular trail for families, this lovely multi-use rails-to-trails follows the rolling Cedar River through stunning forest and open lands. Traverse 12 miles of paved trail from Renton to Maple Valley, and an additional 5 miles of gravel from Maple Valley to Landsburg. Depending on the time of year, you may get lucky enough to see sockeye salmon spawning!

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
17 Miles (12 miles of paved trail)
Starting Point: Cedar River Park (Renton)
End Point: Landsburg Rd SE and SE 252nd Place (Landsburg)

Chehalis Western Trail

Looking out over the scenic Deschutes River Valley, this paved rails-to-trails links every major town in Thurston County, including our state capital, Olympia. The trail passes through forests, farms, and pastures, as well as some city stops. The trail ventures connects to the Yelm-Tenino Trail on the southend if you're looking to add some more miles. If you're biking there in August, bring containers (or just your mouth) for picking all the ripe blackberries at the north end of the trail! 

Trail Level: Beginner
21.5 Miles
Starting Point: Woodard Bay Conservation Area (Chehalis)
End Point: Yelm-Tenino Trail, near Center St N (Rainier)

Chief Sealth Trail

A meandering paved trail through Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, this popular trail was largely built from recycled materials and is named for the Duwamish Tribe’s Chief Sealth (Si'ahl) -- Seattle’s namesake. While it offers lovely views and easygoing hills, we rated it beginner to intermediate due to confusing intersections, steep grades (don't be ashamed to walk your bike at times!) and poor signage marking the trail path. Users should note that if they get lost, look for the power lines to continue on the trail, or check out the intersections noted in the link above.

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
4.5 Miles
Starting Point: S. Angeline St and 15th Ave S (Seattle)
End Point: 51st St and S Gazelle St (Seattle)

Coal Mines Trail

This well-maintained and level path in Eastern Washington takes people riding bikes on a great history lesson of the Northern Pacific Railroad that was developed in 1886. The railroad transported coal until 1994, when it began its transition to the trail we know today.

Trail Level: Beginner
4.7 Miles
Starting Point: Howard Garlin Memorial Trailhead Park (Cle Elum)
End Point: Ronald

Columbia Plateau State Park Trail

Beginner bicyclists can ride the 3.75-mile section of paved trail from Fish Lake to Cheney, but more advanced mountain bikers should check out two large gravel segments of this massive park. Bring your fat bikes and get ready for an adventure!

Trail Level: Beginner to Expert
3.75 Miles (paved) + additional 34 miles of gravel (mountain bike recommended)
First section: Fish Lake Trailhead, milepost 365 of I-90(Cheney)
Second section: Cheney Trailhead, milepost 361.25
Third section: Amber Lake Trailhead, milepost 349.25
Fourth section: Martin Road Trailhead, milepost 342

Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail

Google employees know this trail well, as it passes right through the Kirkland campus. This gravel and partially paved rails-to-trails multi-use path will eventually connect the 42-mile Eastrail from Renton to Snohomish. See our header image for an example of people enjoying the new trail!

Trail Level: Beginner
5.8 Miles
Starting Point: Crestwoods Park (Kirkland)
End Point: Terrace Park (Kirkland)

Des Moines Creek Trail

This is a short and sweet paved trail perfect for young families just getting started bicycling. Features include a river and forestlands along a ravine.

Trail Level: Beginner
2.5 Miles
Starting Point: Des Moines Creek Park (Des Moines)
End Point: Des Moines Beach Park (Des Moines)

East Lake Sammamish Trail

This regional rails-to-trails connector has been more than 48 years in the making, and will eventually connect all of East King County, bridging the gap between Seattle and Central Washington along the Mountains to Sound Greenway. At the time of this writing, segments of the trail are closed through Fall of 2022/2023 as crews construct the last unpaved segments of the 11-mile trail. The trail offers connections to Marymoor Park, intersects with the Issaquah-Preston Trail, and includes lots of scenic waterfront views.

Trail Level: Beginner
11 Miles
Starting Point: NE 70th St (Redmond)
End Point: NW Gilman Blvd (Issaquah)

Eastrail

Eastrail is a dream project for trail users that will eventually connect five cities and two counties along 42 miles of wide, flat trails so that all users can get where they need to go in East King County and beyond. Though it is under construction, a few segments are complete for users to explore. Go ride a few miles and get excited for the future of trails in King and Snohomish counties.

Trail Level: Beginner (hybrid or mountain bikes recommended for gravel)
2.3 miles of paved trail in Redmond; 1.3 miles of gravel trail from Bellevue to NewCastle Beach Park; 5.75 miles of gravel trail through Kirkland
Starting Point: various, see the map
End Point: various, see the map

Elliott Bay Trail

For iconic views and an easy, fun route, this 3.4 mile trail is a must-see. The asphalt mixed-use path winds around Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park, the Ferris wheel, Smith Cove Park, and more. On sunny days, expect lots of traffic -- from kids in strollers to people on rollerblades -- and be sure to go slow and enjoy the views.

Trail Level: Beginner
3.4 Miles
Starting Point: The pedestrian/bike bridge near Myrtle Edwards Park (Seattle)
End Point: The pedestrian/bike bridge near Elliott Avenue (Seattle)

Foothills Trail

This stunning rails-to-trails ride features gorgeous views of Mt. Tahoma/Rainier, farmland, and the Puyallup and Carbon rivers. The most popular and easiest route for beginners is 15 miles of paved asphalt between Puyallup and South Prairie.  The trail continues another 15 miles from there, but it gets tricky at the Cascade Junction for people on bikes, as it crosses creeks and ravines, which can flood. 

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
31 Miles
Starting Point: Pioneer Way East and Shaw Rd East (Puyallup)
End Point: SE 416th St (Eunumclaw)

Green River Trail

This easygoing asphalt trail stretches through the Green River Valley, offering gorgeous river and forest views. Watch out for detours and signage signaling trail stops and starts, which can be challenging for new bicyclists.

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
19.6 Miles
Starting Point: Cecil Moses Memorial Park (Tukwila)
End Point: S 259th St near Foster Park (Kent)

Interurban Trail (North)

This easy-breezy rails-to-trails ride traverses near I-5 from Seattle to Everett, taking bicyclists on an urban journey past mural art and local communities. Though numerous  gaps exist -- and occasional  closures shut down the trail for work on the Sound Transit Light Rail -- this trail is a generally pleasant route for families and other people on bikes.

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
24 Miles
Starting Point: N. 110th St and Fremont Ave N (Seattle)
End Point: 41st St and Colby Ave (Everett)

Interurban Trail (South)

A former Puget Sound Electric Railway line that previously ran from Tacoma to Seattle, this rails-to-trails mixed-use path is straight and flat for almost 16 miles before it hits two unattached segments. Views of wildlife and nature habitat are incredible, especially on clear days when Mt. Rainier is visible to the south. Trail users should be forewarned that some sections near Ellingson Road are in need of repair.

Trail Level: Beginner
19.1 Miles
Starting Point: Fort Dent Way (Tukwila)
End Point: 70th Ave E (Fife)

Issaquah-Preston Trail

Consider this rails-to-trails part of a package duo with the East Lake Sammamish Trail, where it begins just .02 miles north of the ELST's Issaquah endpoint. The trail offers paved, gravel, and some dirt paths that can be uneven and muddy depending on the time of year, but is a generally pleasant ride as part of the Mountains to Sound Greenways. Beginners should prepare for one short steep section (don't be ashamed to walk your bike if need to!) The trail continues on to the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail for a few more miles at the end. 

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
5.4 Miles
Starting Point: East Lake Sammamish Trail (near NW Gilman Blvd), Issaquah
End Point: Preston-Snoqualmie Trail  (SE 47th St off of Preston-Fall City Rd), Preston

Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail

Also known as the I-90 Trail, we recommend beginners check out the 4.3 Beacon Hill portion of this trail that rolls past the ornate Korean pagoda known as Daejeon Park, named after Seattle’s sister city in South Korea. This section of the trail offers scenic views and connects to a neighborhood greenway off of 17th/18th Ave South.

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
100 Miles
Starting Point: Dr. Jose Rizal Park (Seattle)
End Point: Palouse to Cascades Trail

Olympic Discovery Trail

This is no beginner’s trail, but no trail list in Washington state is complete without mentioning the epic Olympic Discovery Trail. This 130-mile long gem joins combined-use paths with on road routes to traverse the lush forests, snow capped mountains, and magical wildlife of the Olympics.

Trail Level: Expert
130 Miles
Starting Point: Port Townsend
End Point: La Push

Palouse to Cascades Trail

This mega-long rails-to-trails has also been known as the Iron Horse Trail and the John Wayne Trail. It is the longest trail in the United States at 288 miles and traverses nearly every landscape our state has to offer, from forest to farmland to mountains and everything in between! We recommend beginning riders bring their hybrid or mountain bikes, be ready for a gentle hill, and park at the Iron Horse State Park in North Bend to ride the well-packed crushed rock portion of the trail that runs beneath the bridge (note: be sure to bring bike lights or headlamps and warm clothing for the 2.3 mile Snoqualmie Tunnel!). East from the summit, the surface is gravel until Ellensburg. Then it becomes rougher with sand and railroad ballast all the way to Idaho.

Trail Level: Beginner to Expert
288(!) Miles
Starting Point: Cedar Falls (King County)
End Point: Idaho boarder east of Tekoa (Whitman County)

Pipeline Trail

This shared use path is ADA accessible, combining 12-foot wide paved asphalt trails with on-street bike facilities and connected sidewalks. Eventually, the trail will connect with the Memorial Chapman Trail and the Foothills Trail, all the way to Mt. Tahoma/Rainier National Park.

Trail Level: Beginner
4.3 Miles
Starting Point: Tacoma Dome Transit Center (Tacoma)
End Point: Waller Rd East and 72nd St East (Tacoma)

Sacajawea Heritage Trail

Take a ride on this paved  20-mile loop trail + 4-mile out-and-back that mostly parallels the Columbia River for a great taste of the TriCities' finest. Three highway bridges link the two sides of the trail, which has been confusing to some users who've complain about signage and markings. However, using a maps system should help beginners explore all the area has to offer -- historical museums, wildlife and nature preserves, rivers, and more. 

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
23.5 Miles
Starting Point: Columbia Point Marina Park (Richland)
End Point: Sacajawea State Park (Pasco)

Sammamish River Trail

Roll along smooth, wide greenways in Northeast King County and enjoy the meandering Sammamish River. This trail connects Burke-Gilman riders to wineries, agricultural fields, athletic fields, and more. Bring the whole family -- or just your 21+ friends -- and enjoy a lovely ride, though beware of crowding on the weekends.

Trail Level: Beginner
11 Miles
Starting Point: Marymoor Park (Redmond)
End Point: Blythe Park (Bothell), where it connects to the Burke-Gilman Trail

Snohomish County Centennial Trail

The rails-to-trails route rolls past farms and pastures, crossing creeks and rivers for stunning views. Some elevation and industrial zone pass-throughs add challenges for the newest riders, but the views of the Olympic Mountains on clear days make the trek well worth it. The trail also crosses the Whitehorse Trail and ends at the Nakashima Barn Trailhead, named for a Japanese family of farmers that owned 1,200 acres in Snohomish County before being sent to internment/concentration camps in 1942.

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
30.5 Miles
Starting Point: First Street near Cady Park (Snohomish)
End Point: Nakashima Barn/North trailhead (Arlington)

Snoqualmie Valley Trail

For an approachable and picturesque introduction to gravel riding, this rails-to-trails ride offers stunning farmland and river views. The flattest portion of the trail extends about 9 miles from Duvall to Carnation, where it rolls through farmlands, wetlands, and even crosses the Tolt River. Riders may want to bring a hybrid or mountain bike, but it is not required.

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
31.5 Miles
Starting Point: Duvall McCormick Park (Duvall)
End Point: Rattlesnake Lake (near Riverbend)

South Bay Trail

Expect breathtaking views of Bellingham Bay and lots of temptations from the local restaurant and retail businesses at the end on this short, family-friendly rails-to-trails. The trail cruises along the waterfront from downtown Bellingham to Fairhaven, passing by waterfront coffee shops, pocket beaches, play areas, as well as views of Lummi Island and the San Juan Islands. Expect lots of tourists and children on busy summer days, so go slow and enjoy the scenery. 

Trail Level: Beginner
2.5 Miles
Starting Point: E. Maple St and Railroad Ave (Bellingham)
End Point: Mill Ave and 10th St (Fairhaven)

Spokane River Centennial Trail

About 34 miles of this 37.5 rails-to-trails is separate pathway, but a small section rides along the road shoulder. Beginners who aren’t comfortable with hills may want to bring an e-bike for this hilly, winding route that snakes along the Spokane River and passes through the Gonzaga University campus. Those who traverse it are bound to be inspired by the scenic boulders and rivers along the trail, as well as the century-old carousel at the trail mid-point. Summer riders should bring extra water, as the area can be hot and dry.

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
37.5 Miles
Starting Point: Sontag Community Park (Nine Mile Falls)
End Point: Gateway Regional Park (Otis Orchards)

Tommy Thompson Trail

Stuck in line at the Anacortes ferry terminal with restless kids and bikes in tow, or interested in birdwatching along beautiful Fidalgo Bay? This is a great little trail option for you! A short but sweet rails-to-trails located just four miles west of the terminal, it is named for a passionate local railroad hobbyist who hand-built the Anaocrtes railway. Eventually, locals hope to connect the trail directly to the terminal via the Guemes Channel Trail. The route features murals, trailside sculptures, historic markers, as well as views of Mt. Baker on a clear day. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles, seals, and other wildlife, as numerous animals hang out near the bay. 

Trail Level: Beginner
3.3 Miles
Starting Point: 11th St and Q Ave (Anacortes)
End Point: Marches Point Rd (Anacortes)

Willapa Hills State Park Trail

Scenic views of farms, small towns, and local rivers are all offered by this 56-mile rails-to-trails spanning Western Washington from Chehalis to South Bend. Though surface conditions vary, beginner bicyclists will enjoy the 5.5 miles of paved asphalt from Chehalis to Adna, where it transitions to compacted gravel until it reaches mile 27. 

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
56 Miles
Starting Point: Chehalis Trailhead near end of SW Hillburger Rd off exit 77 on I-5 (Chehalis)
End Point: South Bend Trailhead near US 101 and Montana Ave (South Bend)

Whitehorse Trail

Mountain bikes are recommended for this rails-to-trails hidden gem. Expect spectacular views of the North Fork Stillaguamish River and Cascade mountains, abandoned mills, and rustic farmlands with flashes of beach and wildlife. The trail is mostly gravel with some muddy portions, and is generally fairly quiet and less populated than paved trails throughout the Puget Sound.

Trail Level: Beginner to Intermediate
23 Miles
Starting Point: Koreze Rd and 115th, Cloverdale Farm (Arlington)
End Point: Price St (Darrington)

Yakima Greenway Trail

This scenic rails-to-trails offers rolling desert hills, parks, lakes, river access, picnic and playground areas, and so many more options along its paved, flat path. Running from Naches to Union Gap, the northern route is sometimes referred to as the "Naches Rail-Trail." Wildlife viewing platforms are available for visitors along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, bring lots of water for hot days, and enjoy the scenery!

Trail Level: Beginner
23 Miles
Starting Point: Naches Train Depot (Naches)
End Point: East Valley Mall Blvd, just under the I-82 overpass (Union Gap)

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If you're looking for additional easy rides but want to bike with a group, join one of Cascade's 10 to 12 mph Leisurely Free Group Rides.