The Emerald Necklace

Imagine this: you’re a walker or a runner or a hiker. You live in Sammamish, and you would like to circle your entire city (and more) on foot. Is there a way to do it? How long would it take? How many miles would you travel? What route would you follow?

This is the challenge taken up by Sammamish Friends, a nonprofit organization composed of residents who are passionate about trails, natural spaces, and all of the amenities our city has to offer.

To answer the first question – is there a way to circle the city on foot? – well, not quite. Not yet. We still need to build a major trail segment at the north end of our city. But we’re closer than ever to making that a reality, and it’s called the Emerald Necklace.  For a map, click here.

Here is where we are with our dream of a 28-mile trail around Sammamish:

  • The City of Sammamish is formulating its Land Acquisition Strategy: The strategy will serve as a framework through which city staff can prioritize opportunities for land acquisition based on a set of criteria established by community feedback.  The strategy is projected to be completed by July.  In the meantime, consider providing feedback to city staff regarding the types of properties and property uses you’d most like to see the City pursue.
  • King County protects open space for the Emerald Necklace around Sammamish: More than 700 acres of rural forests and pasturelands in the Patterson Creek watershed near the City of Sammamish will be permanently protected under an innovative Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) agreement signed by King County Executive Dow Constantine.
  • King County Parks has expressed an interest in the Emerald Necklace: King County with the support of Sammamish Friends applied for a grant to further explore the feasibility of adding trails to the northern portion of the Sammamish plateau.
  • The Sammamish City Council is interested: According to the Issaquah Reporter, the Emerald Necklace was discussed at the Council’s annual retreat: “…the council voiced general approval of ongoing efforts to expand and preserve open space in order to expand Sammamish’s trail system. This includes work by the city as well as local ‘non-profits’, Sammamish Friends, Issaquah Alps, etc., to create the ‘emerald necklace’ of trails”.
  • Mountains to Sound Greenway is involved: The Emerald Necklace map and some of our exploratory activity has been fully supported by Mountains to Sound Greenway, the nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving and enhancing the landscape from Seattle across the Cascade Mountains and to ensuring a long-term balance between people and nature.

Our Dream – The Emerald Necklace


As we envision it, the Emerald Necklace will cover about 28 miles – about the length of a full marathon, as city councilman Don Gerend likes to point out – and will take you from the shores of Lake Sammamish up onto the plateau and back down again.

Imagine starting on the East Lake Sammamish trail, just south of Costco.


From there, you can hike up to the Highlands and connect with the Grand Ridge trail system.


A moderately challenging seven-mile hike on this trail will bring you to the Issaquah-Fall City Road. Cross to the other side and you’re on a soft-surface and boardwalk trail in Duthie Hill Park (watch out for the bikers).


When you emerge onto Duthie Hill Road, a short sidewalk will take you to a crosswalk and into the Trossachs Development where you can use another stretch of sidewalk to reach the Soaring Eagle Park trailhead.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky and here’s where Sammamish Friends gets involved with a lot of help from their friends. We do not yet have a trail system in place to get you from Soaring Eagle north to Evans Creek Preserve.


We supported King County in applying for a grant to study the feasibility of providing that connectivity. Once that is in place, you will hike down to Evans Creek and then either hike back up to the plateau (to the new Sahalee Way access point), or perhaps hike a future trail somewhere parallel to Highway 202 that would connect back to the north-south trail that skirts the entire east side of Lake Sammamish. (Take a break at Sammamish Landing for lakeside access, picnic tables and restrooms.)


In another nine miles or so, you’re back near Costco. You’ve done it: twenty-eight miles, almost all of it on trails. Whether it takes you a day or a week, or whether you spread it out over the course of several months, it’s quite an accomplishment. You’ve circled the entire city.

So far, it’s a dream. But, with the help of the City of Sammamish, King County Parks, Mountains to Sound Greenway and the Issaquah Alps Club, we are closer than ever to making our dream a reality.

Stay tuned for more!