Cedar River Trail-Renton to Lk. Washington

Walk along the Cedar River Trail from Renton to Lake Washington

Hike Length: 5 miles

Elevation Gain: minimal

Hike Difficulty: easy

Updated 1/12/2018

The Renton part of the Cedar River Trail offers many sights, urban and rural. Airplane buffs will enjoy the stretch of trail that passes by the Renton Airport and the Boeing plant. Upstream, the trail is more wild, passing through wooded parks in the valley where the Cedar River cuts through hilly country.

Cedar River Trail in Renton

Getting There

From downtown Seattle, catch the Metro 101 bus in the Bus Tunnel and ride it to the Downtown Renton Transit Center.

Weekend Note: Bus service is good on both Saturday and Sunday.

The Hike

From the Renton Transit Center, walk east a block on 2nd or 3rd Street, then north on Burnett Avenue. You might want to browse the many antique stores along the way. Burnett eventually leaves the downtown core of Renton and crosses the Cedar River. On the far side of the bridge, steps lead down to the Cedar River trail, here a brick-paved walkway close to the water’s edge.

Now which way to go? It really doesn’t matter. Downstream, the trail follows the river closely, an ideal location for viewing the great Cedar River salmon runs, which during their peak practically fill the river with huge red fish. If there are no salmon, watching the ducks is always entertaining. In a half mile, the trail approaches the Boeing plant, which makes 737 and 757 jet aircraft. The trail follows a narrow strip of park squeezed between the factory and river, leading eventually to the south shore of Lake Washington. There’s a dock and boathouse here where you can rent various watercraft. Eventually the trail may be extended all the way to Coulon Park, adding several miles to the hike. In the meantime, this is the end of the hike; return the way you came.

Heading upstream from the Burnett Avenue bridge, the trail follows the river for a short bit, then climbs out of the channel to pass through Liberty Park. The Renton Library is nearby (good restrooms), oddly constructred right over the river channel. The terrace in front of the library is a good place to spot salmon; a sign mounted on the railing gives information on the various fish runs.

At the east edge of Liberty Park, the trail seems to end at a frontage road next to a railroad track and the I-405 Freeway. To find the continuation of the trail, jog left (north) for a few steps and cross the frontage road at a stoplight. Follow a driveway (signed “Cedar River Park”) into a tunnel underneath the railroad tracks. Directly underneath the freeway bridge, turn right (south) onto a pedestrian bridge crossing the river. At the far end of the bridge is the resumption of the Cedar River Trail.

Now a wide paved path, the trail heads through a field occupying the site of a formar clay mine, then enters a wooded greenbelt underneath high bluffs. Further along the greenbelt, the trail passes the attractive Riverview Park with a lawn and picnic tables located near the Cedar River. About one mile from Burnett Avenue, the trail crosses the river on an old steel railroad bridge. Below the bridge is a deep pool in the river which is popular with bathers on hot days.

This bridge marks the end of this attractive section of the Cedar River Trail, at least for pedestrians; only bicyclists will enjoy the next part of the trail which hugs the shoulder of the noisy Maple Valley Highway for many miles. Turn around here and head back to Renton.

Cedar River, Riverview Park

Getting Back

To get to downtown Seattle , catch the Metro 101 bus at the Downtown Renton Transit Center.