Grand Ridge Park provides a 1,200-acre playground for Issaquah Highlanders and visitors alike. It includes over 12 miles of trails with the newest trail opened earlier this summer: The Spruce Coaster.
The “Under Construction/Closed” signs that teased us over the last year or so are down and the new trail is open, beckoning us to explore this deep forest trail. The Spruce Coaster Trail veers off the main Grand Ridge Trail and joins up with a trail known as the Water Tower Loop Trail.
As the name implies, the Spruce Coaster rolls up and down gentle hills through the trees, with a steeper pitch now and then just to keep you on your toes. The surface is smoother than the main, older trail, with fewer exposed rocks and roots. It makes for a very pleasant hike or ride.
Start your hike at South Pond, Central Park and head east on the main, Grand Ridge Trail (now called “Coal Mine Loop”) and continue on what is now called “East Fork Trail” until you cross Grand Ridge Drive. That’s about three-quarters of a mile from South Pond through a lovely mixed forest with a gentle uphill grade and plenty of birds and berries, bikers and hikers.
Cross Grand Ridge Drive to the lesser used portion of the main trail. Continue another mile or so, staying on the main trail past two left hand trail options (the two ends of the Water Tower Loop Trail, now called “Flowing Fir Loop”). Next you will see a new trail map kiosk on the right and the new trail on the left: The Spruce Coaster. You can enjoy a simple one-mile loop back to the main trail by taking a left when you come to the Flowing Fir Loop Trail. Or take a right on that trail for a more adventuresome, almost two-mile return to the main trail.
Grand Ridge Park surrounds the urban village Issaquah Highlands and is part of the original development’s plan created in 1996. Only ¼ of Issaquah Highlands is built on; the rest is open space and parks, the largest park being Grand Ridge Park. It features a seven-mile, main trail with hundreds of feet elevation on the trek out and back to Duthie Mountain Bike Skills Park. Several trails intersect with the main trail, some connecting with the Issaquah Preston trail that runs along I-90.
Are you wondering what’s going on with these trail names? They were changed in 2020, but why, and what do they mean? And who is Len, of “Len’s Trail” and the corresponding monument along the main trail? Come back next time for the stories behind these names and more trail tips.
Photos: (Top) Author Nina walking into the Spruce Coaster from main trail. (Right, top) Bike rider Kevin Burchett riding on the Spruce Coaster trail.
Kevin Burchett enjoys an afternoon ride on the Spruce Coaster Trail.
The Spruce Coaster Trail with the Flowing Fir Trail makes a loop in the middle of Grand Ridge Park, Issaquah Highlands, accessed by the main trail.