Tolt Pipeline and North Redmond Ramble

Seattle's big water pipe makes a fine trail

Hike Length: 8 Miles

Elevation Gain: 300’

Hike Difficulty: Moderate

The 800 acre Redmond Watershed Preserve is a quiet wilderness oasis in the midst of the rapidly suburbanizing land east of the Redmond city center. The park features dense forests, ponds and wetlands, and eight miles of well-groomed trails. Lacking big views and high mountains, the park provides more in the way of relaxation than excitement. Still, it’s worth a few hours of pleasant roaming.

A major source of Seattle's drinking water, the Tolt Pipeline, runs north of the park. A walking path runs along the pipe's right of way. This hike uses a part of the Tolt Pipeline Trail and Redmond Watershed Preserve, along with various other trails.

Tolt Pipeline Trail near the Colin Creek Trail junction

Getting There

Service reductions on Avondale have made access to the Tolt Pipeline a bit tricky. There is no weekend service, and weekday service northbound occurs only early in the morning.

From downtown Seattle , catch Sound Transit 545 bus and ride to the Redmond Downtown Park and Ride. Transfer to the Dart bus 931 and ride it to where the Tolt Pipe crosses Avondale.

Note that if the Tolt Pipeline Trail were a street, it would be 150th. Watch street signs on Avondale to find the correct spot to get off the bus.

The Hike

From the bus stop, go east on the Tolt Pipeline Trail, a wide gravel- surfaced corridor running between the backyards of houses. The actual pipe, which carries water from the Tolt River to Seattle is buried underground throughout most of its length. After crossing the rushing waters of sizable Bear Creek, the trail begins a long climb to the crest of the east Redmond highlands. A typical east King County land use mix borders the trail's route; undeveloped woodlands, horse pastures, the aging and mossy homes of old time residents, clusters of gigantic ,new-money chateaux.

The trail eventually levels out on the rolling summit of the plateau, crossing several dirt and paved streets. Farther on, it begins to descend steeply into the Snoqualmie River valley, and a view opens up toward the Cascades [3 miles, 400']. It is possible to walk all the way to Duvall on roads and trails, but sparse bus service there makes getting around awkward. After you enjoy the view, I suggest continuing the hike by backtracking toward Redmond, and catching a bus on Avondale Road. Along the way, you can visit Redmond Watershed Park.

From the Cascade viewpoint, return via the Tolt Pipeline trail to the area between 232nd and 227th, then head south on the Colin Creek Trail, a gravel-surfaced path that travels along a lovely forested greenbelt. Stay right at the first branch (the left branch heads over to Morgan Drive). Just down the hill from this junction, the Colin Creek trail approaches a sizable pond; look for the pretty side trail that goes along the shore of the pond. This trail leads to a viewpoint and wood bench (see picture below) would be a perfect spot for lunch. Beyond the bench, the side trail soon rejoins the Colin Creek Trail.

Colin Creek ponds on a rainy day

Eventually the Colin Creek Trail crosses 232nd Ave at a crosswalk and heads into another patch of forest. Trails branch off to the left; keep right. After circling around another woodland pond, the trail reaches Trilogy Parkway.

Cross the parkway and continue hiking on the gravel-surfaced trail, which travels westbound through a pleasant forest greenbelt. In a short distance, the trail reaches another street and the edge of Redmond Watershed Park. Enter the park, where the roaming is easy in the gentle, heavily wooded terrain. This park lacks big views or much in the way of exciting terrain, but the variety of ponds and marshes scattered throughout the area are pretty and attract abundant bird life. The eight or so miles of trails within the park are immaculately groomed and well-signed. Bicycles and horses are barred from Siler's Mill Trail, making this path especially pleasant for walkers.

When you are ready to leave Redmond Watershed Park, follow the Old Pond Trail to the west boundary of the park. . After passing by a picturesque dam and pond, the Old Pond Trail crosses the park boundary. The path eventually becomes a private driveway ( a legal public access route to the park), then arrives at the intersection of 122nd St. and 209th Ave.

Walk due west on NE 122nd St, a dirt road. The road turns into a path on private land where public foot access is permitted, then intersects 204th Ave, here a dirt lane on a gas line right-of-way. Go left (south) all the way to NE 116th St. Then go west on 116th all the way to Avondale.

For a more scenic variation, follow Redmond Road to Farell-McWhirter Park. Walk north through the park, then follow the power line trail to Avondale.

Wood bench near pond, Colin Creek Trail

Getting Back

Catch the Metro 248 bus on Avondale Road and ride back to the Redmond transit center. Then take Sound Transit 545 to Seattle.