King County Parks is excited to move forward with the construction of the final 3.6-mile-long segment of the East Lake Sammamish Trail. Segment B, which runs from SE 33rd St. to Inglewood Hill Road is the last portion of the trail yet to be paved and brought up to regional trail standards, making the trail accessible to all ages and abilities.
Parks is preparing the corridor for anticipated construction beginning in 2021. This final segment will complete the 11 mile-long paved trail from Redmond to Issaquah and finalize the 44-mile-long regional trail “Locks to Lakes” route that connects the Burke-Gilman Trail, the Sammamish River Trail, the Marymoor Connector Trail, the Issaquah-Preston Trail, and the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail linking Seattle to the Eastside and the Cascade Foothills.
Set along the edge of beautiful Lake Sammamish, when completed the East Lake Sammamish Trail will provide sweeping views of the lake and more access to public shores. Of the roughly 20 miles of shoreline along Lake Sammamish, almost 80% is privately owned, and just three-quarters of a mile of the publicly owned shoreline is easily accessible.
The completed East Lake Sammamish Trail will be a trail 50 years in the making, as King County first identified this rail section in 1971 as a critical future link in the regional trail system. It wasn’t until 1998 that the corridor was granted railbank status by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board and the Cascade Land Conservancy (now Forterra) conveyed its interest to King County.
When a rail corridor is railbanked, trail use of the corridor is authorized by federal law and the corridor is preserved for possible future uses. On April 20, 2016, a United States district judge ruled King County possesses all property rights in the trail corridor previously owned by BNSF, this ruling was affirmed by the 9th District Court of Appeals in 2018, allowing King County to continue constructing the final segments of the trail.
Now that all issues of ownership have been clarified and affirmed, Parks is beginning to remove encroachments from the corridor in preparation for clearing and grading next year. While the segment will have to be closed during construction, once finished this amazing trail will finally be able to fulfill its potential as a critical link in the more than 300 miles of trail in King County. Allowing more people greater access to recreation, commuting, and enjoying our amazing outdoors.