It is for good reason that Bridle Trails State Park is known as the “wilderness in the city.” Located on the northwest edge of the Seattle metropolitan area, the park makes for an easy-access getaway into the lush ferns and conifers that make up the quintessential Pacific Northwest woods.
What Makes It Great
After becoming a popular spot for horseback riding in the 1930s, Bridle Trials was designated a state park largely thanks to the petitions of local equestrians. With park facilities that include horse show grounds, three arenas, and parking for horse-trailers, horses still hold a large presence within the park today. But it’s not just for the equine crowd: the trails are also available to those of us who want to explore it on our own two feet (just, uh, watch out for the dung).
There are three main loops that make for great running routes: the 1-mile Raven Trail, the 1.7-mile Trillium Trail, and the 3.5-mile Coyote Trail. The Coyote Trail circles around the park’s 482 acres, and the Trillium Trail takes a smaller loop circumscribed within it. The Raven Trail loops around the park’s northwest corner. All of the paths are all well maintained, relatively flat, and beautiful. They are perfect for anyone looking for a moderate afternoon workout. If you’re looking for a long-ish run, a good six miler is to do a loop around the Coyote Trial, then the Trillium Trail, then the Raven Trail.
The Trillium and Coyote Trails are both designed to be taken clockwise around the park. They are well marked with wooden pickets labeled with the trails’ respective symbols (a flower for Trillium and a paw print for Coyote). And, just in case you need an excuse to catch a breather, there are ten educational signposts interspersed alongside the trial throughout, carrying information about the park’s natural history, cultural history, and how it integrates with the surrounding cities.
For those who prefer to choose their own adventure or get in some more miles by adding some extra loops, there is also an interconnected network of unmarked, smaller paths throughout the park. Altogether the park has 28 miles of trail.
Bridle Trails is a success story of preserving nature in an urban setting. From the high density secondary forests to a few old growth confers – including a 180-foot tall, 250 year-old Douglas fir on the east side of the park – it’s an opportunity to observe all of stages of forest regeneration.
Who is Going to Love It
Anyone who is looking for an accessible way to get into nature for a fun, easy-going trail run.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The park is located at 5300 116th Ave. N.W., Kirkland, WA 98033.
There is plenty of parking in the lot (Discover Pass required). The trailheads are up the hill from the northwest corner of the parking lot: follow the marker for the “Guided Self Trails,” then you’ll soon encounter a large signboard with a map on it.
Keep in mind that horses always have the right of way; be mindful not to spook them. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on leash at all times.