Summer has finally come to Seattle. After finishing some work in the morning, followed by a short brunch, we drive to Duvall, a short 45 minutes by car from Seattle. Today we’ll head into the Cascade foothills on some favorite roads and trails.

The weather forecast is for sunny skies, and mid-summer days are long, so we don’t need much preparation. A light lunch in the handlebar bag and water bottles filled with water and lemonade, and we are ready to head out for our ride.

A short warmup on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail is a great introduction for today’s ride. The trail goes through meadows, and it’s shaded by large trees, so the air feels fresh and cool even on this hot day.

Soon comes the turnoff to the Pipeline Trail. The pipeline carries Seattle’s drinking water from the Cascade Mountains. It runs so straight that we can see the mountains ahead. The trail goes up and down as it heads into the foothills.

It’s fun to see where we are heading, and the mountains suddenly feel very close. The gravel is smooth, and the ups and downs make it feel like a rollercoaster. Even though there is more up than down, it feels almost like we’re just coasting into the hills.

It’s a hot day, so I brought lemonade. For today’s ride, I picked my bottle with Myoshi’s drawings from our book The All-Road Bike Revolution. This brings back good memories, and I look forward to future projects like this.

I get a bit hot on the uphills, but then the downhills are often in the shade, and it’s nice to dive into these pockets of cooler air. The last downhill is so steep that the trail curves in two tight hairpin turns. The gravel here is coarser and looser than on the rest of the trail, so I take this descent slowly.

I enjoy the smooth pavement that takes us to Lake Joy. It’s always fun to ride on paved roads, especially after gravel roads. I can relax more. I look at the sky and enjoy the scenery, and also look at the houses out here. Some are older and more modest. Others are new dream homes on the shore of the little lake.

We don’t stop at Lake Joy, but continue into the Tolt Highlands. The sun shines through the trees and paints a dappled komorebi pattern onto the gravel surface. The gravel is so smooth today that it feels like it’s paved.

We take a short break in the shade, a little off the road. I eat a beef curry bread I bought at my favorite bakery in Seattle. We are almost at the highest point of the ride, so it’s good to take a short rest.

It’s so sunny today! It reminds me of summer break when I was little.

The road winds downhill toward the Snoqualmie Valley. We are dropping 500 ft (150 m). It’s only 1/10 as long as a pass in the high mountains, but it’s enough to feel the essence of descending a mountain pass.

The road becomes paved for the last and steepest bit into the valley.

Suddenly, we are back in civilization, as we emerge in the town of Carnation. Evacuation route signs are common in Washington. Usually they are for volcanos or tsunamis, but here they give you an escape route in case the dam upstream breaks.

We ride through town to Sandy’s Espresso. It’s a nice cafe that has been a cyclists’ favorite for many years.

Our late lunch… After our café stop, we stroll around Carnation and check out an antique store and a classic car dealer that’s unfortunately closed for the day.

Then we return via the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. It’s very slightly downhill and we have a tailwind, so the riding is very relaxing and a great cool-down. The air coming out of the meadows is cool and comfortable after the hot day in the hills. We meet pedestrians and runners. We wave and smile, and they return our greetings. Part of the fun of cyclotouring is meeting local people.

Then we arrive back in Duvall. We’ll be home in time for dinner. It was just a half-day ride, but it covered all my favorite elements of cyclotouring.. The up and down of the Pipeline Trail. Smooth pavement near Lake Joy. The Tolt Highlands felt like getting into the mountains. A real descent, short, but steep and twisty. And even a café stop. What a fun ride!

Further information:

  • This ride now is available in the Routes Archive, together with other rides in and around Seattle.