I knew this day would come: an invite to a birthday party on the eastside. I used to dread this day, but having used Zipcar once last winter I realize we’ve got an option for the rare trips to places too hard to reach by bike and/or transit.
Before reserving a car I thought I’d have a laugh and see just how impossible it’d be to take buses to SkyMania indoor trampoline park. I always use Google maps transit directions for bus suggestions, but if you like something better, please let me know in the comments section at the bottom of this post. Three buses over an hour and a half with nearly a mile-long walk at the end sounded horrible (especially the walking in a non-walker-friendly city), but I couldn’t help but notice how close SkyMania sat to the Cross Kirkland Corridor. I remembered reading about the trail on Seattle Bike Blog: Kirkland’s new trail changes everything. The third of the three buses, King County Metro Route 255 had a stop less than two miles from our house and many stops near the Cross Kirkland Corridor so bike-bus-bike could work after all!
Now just routing us there isn’t planning enough, big trips like this must include eating stops and it’s not exactly picnic weather. I poked around the map to see if there was food to be found along the Cross Kirkland Corridor, but I didn’t see anything perfect so I took to Twitter to ask @CrosswalkView, a family of six with a blog about family biking and walking in Kirkland at The View from the Crosswalk and @GlenBikes who lived in Kirkland before he moved to my neck of the woods and still knows everything about bicycling there. My suspicions were confirmed that there’s not much around the CKC, but I got some good advice if we wanted to leave the trail for Houghton Plaza: The View from the Crosswalk: Connecting the Eastside Rail Corridor part 3: Houghton.
So I ended up sticking with my original idea:
- Bike 1.7 miles to the bus stop
- Ride the 255 for 11 minutes to South Kirkland Park and Ride
- Bike 0.4 miles to Burgermaster for elevensies
- Bike 5.5 miles, mostly along the CKC, to SkyMania
- Two hours of bouncing and laser tag
- Bike 2.9 miles back along the CKC to Chainline Brewing for food truck
- Bike 0.2 miles (just around the corner) from the CKC behind Chainline to the bus stop in front of Chainline
- Bike 1.8 miles home from the bus stop
I rode the old mamabike with my seven-year old in the Bobike Junior rear seat and my nine-year old rode his own bike. It was tempting to take three separate bikes because Metro buses all have three bike slots (whereas some Sound Transit buses only have two), but I figured it’d be best to keep it simple.
It worked great! The 1.7 miles to the bus stop was flat except for the two downhill blocks to get from home to the Burke-Gilman Trail and the ramp by the UW light rail station to get down to the Lake Washington Loop from the Burke-Gilman Trail. And 35 stairs to the bus stop (I carried the bikes one by one).
The other side (that we’d use on the way home) was recently redone to include a ramp:
I was dismayed to discover the South Kirkland Park and Ride is on the side of a hill, but it was OK this one time and we can use a different bus stop in the future. The short ride to Burgermaster wasn’t bad–we cut through the parking lot of a La Quinta Inns & Suites and approached via the sidewalk…and immediately realized Burgermaster (like most of the eastside?) is designed for people in cars.
One drives up, chooses a parking spot in front of a menu, and orders through rolled-down window to a server who has walked over from the seating-free building.
Had it not been cold and rainy, we could have eaten on the back patio. There’s even a bike rack back there!
But given the weather, we were grateful to sit on the bench inside.
Eating inside was pretty fun–my little guy was particularly enthralled by the order wheel: “I’ve only seen one of those on SpongeBob SquarePants before now!” And my big guy found the portable car jump starter by our bench quite fascinating.
Then we biked back uphill through the hotel parking lot and up quite a lot more hill for two blocks to the start of the trail (on the sidewalk). My nine-year old made up a little chant about how much he disliked the hill, but he was able to pedal up it without stopping. And then we were at the very beginning of the CKC. I read the Seattle Bike Blog article about it almost two years ago and had forgotten that it’s gravel! Fun!
We rode 4.9 of the 5.5 miles of Cross Kirkland Corridor and it was awesome! My nine-year old had the most fun of all, skidding–intentionally and alarmingly–every 50 feet the entire way. I was relieved I had just one kid skidding all over the place on his own bike this time, but we talked about coming back on three bikes–my preference is for a nice day in the summer, the kids’ is for an even rainier day because they’re really into wetlands habitats. I forsee summer visits with trailside blackberry-picking stops, the kids plan to search for the “very large duck and badger” depicted in the Environmentally Sensitive Area signs.
There’s a marvelous view of Lake Washington and the most of the stairways off the trail have runnels for easy wheeling of bikes. One stairway leads down to small Terrace Park (no potties), but even bigger and better and right at trail level is Google Park with zipline (though also no potties).
Google maps had me exiting the CKC at NE 112th Street, one block before our destination, but rather than ride that one long block (on the sidewalk, of course, in this area) I decided to stick to the trail because even if it tunneled under our street, we’d have a shorter amount of sidewalk to ride back from the following intersection. Turns out the trail did indeed cross under NE 116th Street, but that meant we got to ride a tiny bit more of the CKC. Unfortunately that also meant we had to cross a big street and the people turning right from 120th Avenue NE onto NE 116th Street were not keen on allowing us to cross in the crosswalk.
Skymania is in a big nondescript building with huge parking lot and no bike rack. But there was lots of space under the overhang by the front door so we locked up to a pipe under that.
The kids LOVED the venue. Two big trampoline areas, arcade games, and laser tag. The Waiting Lounge has chairs and tables, couches, and free wi-fi. But no outside food or drink allowed.
Heading back we started along the sidewalk of 116th, prepared to check out the long block of 120th’s sidewalk we avoided on the way up. By the way, there’s a bike lane on 116th, but it has lots of cars crossing through it to get to the freeway entrances.
I stopped above the trail to see if there was any better option and it looked like it wouldn’t be too big a deal to ride down the driveway east of the car dealership and walk/carry our bikes a short way to the trail.
Other than one pesky blackberry vine at the end, it was just fine.
We saw an even better entry point once we were down on the trail:
The dirt road alongside the long building to the west of the trail continues for the entire block so that would work even better for a trailer or other bike that couldn’t make the short rocky traverse.
Chainline Brewing Company was great! The food truck was a no-show, but we went in anyway to buy a bag of chips and use the potty. The bike racks are up quite a slope, but plenty of people had wheeled their bikes up to them.
There’s tons of bike decor inside–as well as some very cool light fixtures. We’ll be back for sure–and we can bring Pixie because it’s kid- and dog-friendly! There were a ton of babies there, by the way.
The bus ride and bike ride home went well. I’m so glad I had my seven-year old on my bike because mere moments after he asked if he could disembark to run the last few blocks home he fell asleep back there. He tends to run at 100% capacity at all times–and sometimes burn out before the day is done–whereas my nine-year old and I pace ourselves. Obviously, we’re not nearly as fun. But we stay awake while plodding on home. I think a summer visit without two hours of jumping and laser tagging will leave us all with energy enough to ride the whole trail and visit all the playgrounds, though. Here’s my Strava recording of the Kirkland portion of our day. Can’t wait to come back!
I always dread those suburban trampoline/bouncy house birthdays too, why are they always in the least walk/bike friend places…real estate prices I suppose. It doesn’t sound like it was easy, but it does sound like a fun day. I have found that for special occasions it’s worth it make a day out of it and go way out of my way. Most of the time it makes for an excellent adventure, even if it is rather tiring. Only very rarely is it as dismal as I first worry it might be. You seem to put a lot of planning into though and that’s gotta help your success rate. Sending love from Baltimore.
Hee hee, totally on board with the starting with very low expectations and ending on pleasantly surprised (not intentional with the low expectations, mind you).
Hey, that’s my neck of the woods, sort of; I work in Kirkland a couple of days a week. If you are going midweek the ST 540 runs from the U District to the CKC so you don’t have to carry your bikes down to the freeway station. Hopefully the CKC will stimulate some more bike friendly businesses along the trail. Do you think CKC to Chainline would be a good Kidical Mass when the 520 bike/ped trail opens this year?
Thanks for the tip on the 540! And ooh, that would be a fun Kidical Mass if the east side of the 520 rail connects to the CKC!