Burke-Gilman Trail Tour

  • By HistoryLink Staff
  • Posted 9/28/2004
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7049
This is a tour of  Seattle's Burke-Gilman Trail, an urban trail that follows the route of the old Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad.


The Burke-Gilman Trail is a publicly owned foot and bicycle path that follows the original right of way of the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad. The trail's name honors railroad founders Judge Thomas Burke and Daniel Gilman, who first laid track north from downtown Seattle in 1887. The line was extended east along Lake Union's north shore and then around Lake Washington with the aim of crossing the Snoqualmie Pass. While this goal was never reached, the SLS&E quickened the development of King County and carried much of its raw materials, chiefly timber and coal. Rails reached Snoqualmie Falls in 1889, when a northern branch was built to connect with the Canadian Pacific Railroad at the border town of Sumas.

The railroad was abandoned in the 1960s, and the City of Seattle later purchased part of the right of way for an urban trail. The route is open to the public from Kenmore to Fremont, and will soon be extended to Ballard. King County also has plans to extend the trail north and east of Lake Washington.

The following map shows the SLSER route and public portions of the trail. Click locations for historic views of the trail and nearby landmarks.

Sources: Image credits as shown.

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