Juanita Park, Kirkland/North Lake Washington Loop

In New York, a “routine” ride often means a quick jaunt to Piermont and Bunbury’s — a 40ish-mile round trip to a lovely small town with an excellent bakery (often jammed with like-minded cyclists) at the midpoint. (One of about a zillion ways to get there is here.)  Our Seattle equivalent has become the 40-mile RT North Lake Washington Loop, with a park, beach and ice cream shop in Kirkland at the midpoint.

After a few miles winding our way down (think 20 percent grades DOWN) from our apartment through lovely neighborhood streets, we hit the famed Burke-Gilman Trail and ride its last 10 miles to Kenmore. Unlike familiar NYC trails (Hudson Greenway, for example) this trail is wide enough to ride comfortably while sharing with many (but not too many) other people on bikes, on foot and in strollers. It’s blissful.

Then it’s on to Juanita Drive and a 2-mile climb with 4 to 7 percent grades, enough to make it worthwhile.  After a fun descent and a few more short climbs and descents,  we arrive at Juanita Beach Park.  This place is idyllic (as is so much of this area). Sparkling water, charming scenes of people enjoying their lives, boats, ducks, paddle boards. And ice cream. And hot dogs.

We linger there for awhile, then head on to the second half. This part features a bit of neighborhood meandering but also a fair amount of decent straightaway type riding where we can get a good pace going. Not quite like 9W for speed, but also much prettier.

We still miss Piermont and Bunbury’s. But this loop is a lovely alternative.