One of my favorite bike rides (when I want to work my legs but not have to think about how to maneuver through traffic) is hopping on the city’s most heavily used non-motorized transportation and recreation trail- the Burke Gilman- and heading to Woodinville’s Barking Frog for brunch. Accessible through a number of entry points, the paved trail runs 18.1 miles from Ballard’s Shillshole Bay to Bothell where it intersects the Sammamish River Trail. The trail is entirely protected from motorized vehicles with the exception of a few street crossings and a missing link in Ballard that requires cyclists and cars to share the road.
A popular access point is Wallingford’s Gasworks Park, where cyclists park their car, unload their bike, cross the street and hop on the trail for miles. From Gasworks, the ride is a flat ~18 mile ride (one way) that takes you through areas such as University of Washington, Sandpoint, Matthews Beach, Lake Forest Park, Shoreline, Bothell and into Woodinville. To view a mileage map and specifics, click here.
More than halfway through the ride, the trail merges with the Sammamish River Trail and that is when you really feel like you are in the country. The sound of cars dissipates and is replaced with the laughter of kids on training wheels and babies squealing with delight as their parents have them in tow.
You will know you are dangerously close to your food destination – Barking Frog – when you start to approach a bridge with dragonflies on top. Take a left in the fork of the road and then turn right to cross the bridge heading west and then you will see the Herbfarm sign almost immediately. Turn right into the parking lot.
Located across from the Willows Lodge and next to the famed Herbfarm, Barking Frog has its fair share of hotel guests and locals. Bike racks are located on the left just past the Barking Frog entrance.
Don’t let its close proximity to the formal Herbfarm dissuade you from entering the Frog in your bike attire. This Pacific NW restaurant – in close proximity to the wineries such as Chateau Ste. Michelle - feeds its fair share of hotel guests.
On the weekends, I often see vacationers in attire ranging from flip flops and tees to polo shirts, khakis, and sun dresses. I don’t ever feel self conscious in my bike attire as, after all, we all know cyclists hold a venerable status in Seattle that gives them a hall pass to walk into restaurants and other public establishments decked out in bike cleats and spandex.
Once you enter the restaurant, ask the host or hostess if you can bypass the interior and head directly to the outdoor patio that has a fountain water feature in the center, sealing in that zen feeling.
Not far from the Barking Frog is the Redhook Brewery which is a more common destination for cyclists. The brewery has an outdoor deck, edible pub food and a younger/slightly cooler vibe.
My choice is still always the Frog for a couple of reasons:
- More tranquil setting.
- The Frog is a slightly shorter ride than cycling to Redhook. Each pedal stroke counts after you have been in the saddle this long.
- Barking Frog has an extensive multi-page wine list and they make a fine Bloody Mary.
- I favor a nice brunch over average pub food. My favorites are the Croque Madame sandwich ($12) and the Dungeness crab cakes benedict ($18). The benny comes with your choice of an English muffin or biscuit. Tip: Go with the biscuit as it is memorably good – Substantial size, a firm and crisp outer layer with an addictive buttery taste.
Note: As of June 15th, there is a two-mile segment on the Burke Gilman Trail from NE 145th St to Logboom Park in Lake Forest Park that is temporarily closed for up to six months. The city has established a detour route, but it adds a couple of miles and some elevation to your ride. It will also require riding on the street alongside traffic part of the way. Click here for details.