The destination he thought of sounded more like a myth than something that could have actually existed. "The Yellowstone Trail," he said, "I think it's out in Duvall somewhere, but I've never gone. Supposedly back in the early 1900's the road went all the way from here to Yellowstone National Park." Our eyes lit up, but with some skepticism. How could, and why would, there be a trail going from Seattle to Yellowstone Park at that point in history? We were determined to find answers, and thus began our Yellowstone Trail journey.
Map of the Yellowstone Trail, credited to the Yellowstone Trail Association
The History of the Route
Through the wonders of the internet, we learned that the Yellowstone Trail was indeed real, and not only did it go from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park, but all the way to Boston Massachusetts. It was the first automobile road in the northern part of the United States that went from coast to coast. The trail was formed in 1913 and was active until about 1930. The Yellowstone Trail was made possible by a grassroots organization, called the Yellowstone Trail Association, which was made up a group of mid-westerners who were tired of not having good, all-weather government roads to use. Together, they pressured the government to create better roads as cars became more popular. Decision-makers came to the conclusion that having a national route that took drivers through the scenic Yellowstone National Park made the most sense. (Learn more from the active members of the Yellowstone Trail Association.)
The one-mile authentic remnant of the Yellowstone Trail in Redmond, WA
The Yellowstone Trail Today
We set out on a cloudy wet winter morning to the historical trail with our jackets and chocolate lab. Google Maps and Bing informed us that we were looking for Red Brick Road (196th NE Ave.) in Redmond, just off of Redmond/Fall City Rd--does Red Brick Rd. remind you of The Wizard of Oz? Yeah, it did for us too. As we came into the valley after driving through downtown Redmond, we knew we had almost arrived when we spotted an old farm house we'd seen in a photo online taken in 1975 of the trail--the same farm house still remains today.
We chose to drive the authentic Red Brick Road first, as it's only a mile long at this point. While bumping along we imagined what it would have been like to be on this exact route in a Model T nearly 100 years ago. The road still maintains the same speed limit as it did back in 1913--25 mph, and we have to tell you, even in today's cars, on a brick road, 25 mph seems pretty fast! We enjoyed the countryside: the horses, donkeys, Great Blue Heron, miniature horses, wetlands, and farm houses. It really is scenic. The rest of the Yellowstone Trail technically still exists, but the majority of the other portions have been repaved and turned into highways and residential streets.
The Red Brick Rd. really is quite picturesque as you drive along--that's golden grass in a nature preserve in the background
When you arrive, breath in the country-fresh air and wrap your mind around the history. This was the only way to travel from Seattle to the East Coast nearly a century ago.
The only identifying sign you'll find at the Yellowstone Trail landmark in Redmond
It Was Worth It
After driving the trail, we jogged it with our dog, who decided that this was an extra-specially good idea. We enjoyed taking the Yellowstone Trail at a slower pace and thoroughly appreciating the scenery around us. When the road turned back into asphalt, we have to admit, we weren't ready for it. You just can't find brick roads around here, and certainly not with this kind of history. The Yellowstone Trail marks an important time in the development of our country's highway system and it's just outside the city. You don't always have to go far to find something new and different.
Our chocolate lab after our jog, loving the trail and loving the exercise
Things To Know:
- To find the Yellowstone Trail: Turn left off of Redmond Way (Highway 202) going toward Fall City onto NE 196 NE Ave. (or Red Brick Rd.) the trail will connect you to NE Union Hill Rd.
- There is one small historical landmark sign that you might miss if you aren't looking for it, right after the road turns into a brick road
- You can drive, ride your bike, walk, or jog on the trail
- The brick road portion of the trail is one-mile long
Bring your dog and go enjoy the historic Yellowstone Trail
Not many people know the Yellowstone Trail exists--go make it your own!
Head on out Around Puget Sound...and Beyond