Hiking The Tolt-Pipeline Trail

Normally I’d be posting my usual fare here, on topics like early retirement and investing.  Instead of doing that, I decided to “take a day off” from blogging this Friday.  I went hiking instead!

It’s finally summer here in the Pacific Northwest, and the weather is absolutely beautiful right now.

A blue skies and 75F degrees (24C) kind of beautiful.  There was even a slight breeze to keep things cool.  Perfect for hiking.

When the weather is this nice, the thought of staying indoors is practically torture.

I missed far too many nice days like this when I was working.  Usually I was stuck in an office building all-day, working on a computer for people I didn’t really like.  It wasn’t a lot of fun.

So this Friday, I decided to take advantage of the wonderful weather — I spent the day hiking the Tolt-Pipeline trail.

The Tolt pipeline is a water pipeline that supplies 30% of the city of Seattle’s water supply.  The trail itself is an access road that’s been turned into a hiking trail.  It starts up in the mountains at the Tolt River Reservoir and flows all the way into the city.

Most of the pipeline is buried, but there are several spots along the path where it’s visible.

visible pipeline

I started out in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland (where Costco derives the name of their famous house brand).  As you would expect of a pipeline trail, it makes for a very straight and easy trail.

easy and straight

After leaving Kirland, the trail descends into the famous Sammamish River Valley.  This hill would later kick my ass on the way back.

decent into the Sammamish River Valley

The Sammamish River Valley is famous for wineries like Chateau Ste. Michelle.  Literally hundreds of small wineries, breweries, and distilleries inhabit this river valley.

small wineries

The valley is also famous for the Sammamish River Trail, a highly-trafficked walking and biking path that follows the Sammamish River.  (you can see the trail to the left of the river)

samamish river

My path zig-zagged through Washington’s wine country until I came to the appropriately named “Heart-attack hill”, which follows the pipeline trail “up” and out of the valley.  (You probably can’t tell from the photo, but it’s steep as hell.)

Thankfully I didn’t have a heart-attack, but I was pretty winded at the top.

heart attack hill

After making my way up that beast, the trail continued to slowly rise up into the mountains.  I stopped at a nice shady spot near Bear Creek to eat my lunch.

lunch spot

As the trail continues, things get more and more rural.  Suburbs become farms.  Many homes in this area keep horses.

I stopped to talk to this horse, but he was pretty rude — when I said “Hi”, he snorted at me and trotted off the other direction.  What a snob!

rude horse

Along the way, wild salmonberries provided a juicy snack.  They come in two colors — red and yellow.  Each has a slightly different flavor.

salmon berry

yellow salmonberries

And so the trail continues up into the mountains.  After a full day of hiking, I was hot and tired.  Eventually, I had to turn around to head home.

a nice day

I hope you don’t mind me taking a break from my usual blogging duties to bring you this little “slice of life” from the Pacific Northwest.

I happen to think this is why financial independence is so awesome — rather than being stuck in a building on this beautiful day, I can spend the entire day doing what I want.  Being outside, enjoying nature, and getting some exercise.

Think back to the last time you did that.  Didn’t it feel pretty awesome?

14 thoughts on “Hiking The Tolt-Pipeline Trail

  • July 1, 2017 at 4:46 AM

    Looks like a nice hike, and having some berries to hunt on the way always makes it more fun!

    I’ve been slowing down on the blogging too, it’s just too nice outside this time of year 🙂

  • July 1, 2017 at 5:35 AM

    Beautiful scenery! 75 degree weather is definitely beautiful. It’s been super hot in DC (high 80s and 90s), so I’ve been staying at home enjoying the AC while looking out at the sunny weather. I think Mr. FAF and I will take a trip to a national park soon thought. It’s a bit stuffy staying at home all the time.

  • July 1, 2017 at 6:29 AM

    This looks gorgeous! What a great adventure 🙂

    We have been trying to spend as much time outside in the nice summer weather as possible… even if it just means grabbing our plates and eating dinner in our yard instead of at the table. The outdoors is key to unwinding and relaxing after a day at work or a busy week.

  • July 1, 2017 at 3:22 PM

    It’s great to take a break and get outdoors, even when you might have a pile of work you might want to be doing. Glad you got to enjoy it and thank you for sharing your pics and Costco knowledge with us!

    Tomorrow, I’m planning to take a bike ride on a great path that just happens to take me to a brewery after 18 miles. I think a 36-mile round trip might make it the longest bike ride I’ve ever embarked upon. Yes, I know that’s weak.


    • July 1, 2017 at 3:42 PM

      I’m pretty weak myself — I probably hiked only 20 miles on Friday, and I’m pretty dang sore today! 🙂

  • July 2, 2017 at 7:47 AM

    Oh dear lord, it’s obscene that the weather is 75 degrees where you are!!!! I am so jealous! And wow, the scenery is just gorgeous. 🙂 What a great way to have fun, get exercise, and not spend money!

    • July 2, 2017 at 5:45 PM

      You probably won’t believe me, but we have absolutely no facility to create cool air in the house. No AC whatsoever here.

  • July 3, 2017 at 7:53 AM

    Nice hike! We haven’t gone much this year. I’d like to go to the lava tube at St. Helen this summer. That should be a lot of fun for the family. Been a bit lazy this year and mostly hung out at the pool. 🙂

  • July 3, 2017 at 12:07 PM

    I’ve got to say this looks freakin incredible man! Especially jealous you don’t have to deal with the humidity we have in Florida right now. Although those breweries would probably get me out there anyway haha
    Rethink Retired recently posted…Best Retirement Gifts Guide

  • July 3, 2017 at 7:00 PM

    This reminds me of the trail we hiked in Boquete, Panama also called “the pipeline trail”. Oddly enough, there’s also a section near it that’s steep as hell that gives you heart attacks.

    Looks like an awesome way to spend the day!

  • July 4, 2017 at 1:17 PM

    Beautiful and serene scenery Mr. Tako! It’s been over a year since my last hike. I should get out more often…

  • May 16, 2019 at 6:22 PM

    Stumbled on this post trying to google the grade of “heartattack hill” and interesting to see some FIRE folks in the comments!! Will have to poke around to see what else you post!

    (I live right off the Tolt, up from the Bear Creek stop you made!)


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