Grand Ridge outside of Issaquah has had its ups and downs. While I was in high school, there were some great technical trails I often enjoyed (although they were often either brushy or muddy). Then, the mega development at Issaquah Highlands bulldozed through a huge chunk of the forest. Many trails were lost as suburban sprawl had seemingly consumed everything. I lost interest in the area due to the clear cuts and constant noise from the heavy equipment building roads and houses. I didn’t return to Grand Ridge for many years until my recent stay in Sammamish. I was surprised by what I found. The remaining forest is now protected in the 1,200 acre Grand Ridge Park and I discovered a new section of trail that connects all the way to Duthie Hill County Park. While I wish the whole Grand Ridge area would still be forest, this new stretch of trail is a nice consolation and I was happy to run it a few times before heading back to California.
The Grand Ridge Trail is really an awesome trail run in pleasant forest with sections of hills and other sections that are relatively flat. There are a couple soggy areas and I can only imagine how wet and muddy they are from October through June. It appears as if there is a project in the works to build bridges in these areas. The only drawback to this trail is the fact that it is an out-and-back but this a great trail so it doesn’t feel like a drag to run it again. In addition, the trail is now maintained with the brush cut back and the path a little bit wider. All of this means that Grand Ridge is now a relatively fast trail run and you can really pick up a nice tempo in spots.
Starting at the High Point or Coal Mine Trailheads off I-90 entails a steep climb right from the get-go so I am not a big fan of these trailheads now that there are access points higher up on the Issaquah Highlands. There is a small parking area at Duthie Hill Park which is a good starting point. They are currently constructing mountain bike trails in Duthie Hill Park so there might be a couple more miles of trail here in the future. The best trailhead, however, is the South Pond Trailhead at Central Park in the Issaquah Highlands which includes a water fountain and facilities. From the South Pond Trailhead to Duthie Hill Park Trailhead is about 7.5 miles each way (including the run through Duthie Hill Park’s gravel road and mountain bike trails) but since it’s an out-and-back you can turn around whenever you like.
Map of Grand Ridge Park HERE.