Photo: The Neppel Trail is the best spot in Moses Lake to enjoy a car-free ride or run.
Moses Lake may be flatter than the Bonneville Salt Flats, and though it may not be a hiking or rock climbing mecca, it still has plenty to offer the Average Joe looking to spend a few hours outside after work or on the weekend. Whether you’re a resident or just passing through, you’ll find options below for getting outside and enjoying the sunny, sunny days. With less than eight inches of precipitation per year, almost any day around Moses Lake is a good day to spend outside.
The Moses Lake Trails Planning Team has done a terrific job of making Moses Lake accessible to walkers, bikers and skaters, and are promising still more to come. Their crowning achievement to date has been the Activity Trail (link to map), which is a well-mapped and well-signed system of multi-use paths, bike lanes, and broad-shouldered roads designed to help recreationalists stay out of traffic and off the grills of the local pickups. In addition, the Activity Trail connects to a number of city parks, which are convenient places to stop, refill the water bottle, and smell the roses.
While the Activity Trail provides some corridors for recreation and commuting, it’s still in its early years, and map-o-phobes may find it frustrating to develop loops and continuous routes from the main Activity Trail brochure. To ease the woebegone navigator’s soul, we’ve biked around Moses Lake to find the crème de la crème of interesting, low-traffic rides. Many of these loops are short enough to be used by runners, walkers, and rollerbladers. Cyclists wanting longer rides, meanwhile, can easily connect several of these loops.
Golf Course Out-and-Back:
Highlights: It’s not that we hate cars, but when we’re not actually driving one we sure do enjoy traveling by foot or by bike without fear of being steamrolled by a few thousand pounds of steel. This route takes advantage of two motor-free chunks of the Activity Trail and several low low-traffic roads for a low-stress ride or run. In addition, the Activity Trail between Blue Heron Park and Neppel Landing is the backbone of several local running races, so this is a great route for preparing to obliterate the competition.
Hazards: The route is slightly confusing to follow after Neppel Landing, so look for signs for Marina Drive and for the Activity Trail.
Distance: 10.7 miles
The Neppel Landing Trail begins near the lakeshore by the intersection of Stratford Road and Broadway Avenue. Follow the trail southwest along the lakeshore. After about 1 mile the trail merges with Marina Drive. Follow Marina Drive for 1.8 miles, then turn left onto Interlake Road. Almost immediately turn right onto Broadway Avenue. In about fifty feet, turn right onto the paved ‘Activity Trail’ and follow the trail to Blue Heron Park. From the park, turn right onto Westshore Drive. In just under a mile, turn left onto Fairway Drive. Follow Fairway to the “T” intersection with North Frontage Road. Turn left on N. Frontage, which will lead back to Blue Heron Park and the Activity Trail.
Highlights: Most of this loop follows the lakeshore and offers great views of the Parker and the Pelican horns. Peninsula Drive is a quiet ride with minimal traffic and gardens spilling paparazzi-like flowers into the street along your way. Peninsula Park has a water fountain and a restroom for all your liquid needs. A car-free mile along the Neppel Landing Trail is a welcome reprieve from motorized vehicles.
Hazards: A short stint on Broadway Ave., which is busy and difficult to cross, but has a bike lane and multi-use sidewalks.
Distance: 8.31 miles
Trip Instructions: From the intersection of Stratford and South Alder, head southwest along the Neppel Landing Trail, following the lakeshore. After about 1 mile, the trail will disappear. Continue following Marina Drive and signs for the Activity Trail. In 1.7 miles, turn left on Interlake Road. At the next intersection, turn right onto W. Broadway Avenue. In 0.4 miles, turn left onto W. Lakeshore Court. At the tip of the peninsula, the road bends around on itself and becomes W. Peninsula Drive. Continue on W. Peninsula Drive for 2.4 miles, then turn left onto Locust Lane. In about 0.25 miles, turn right onto W. Broadway Avenue. In 0.6, miles take the right fork onto W. 3rd Avenue. Finally, in 0.75 miles, turn left onto Ash St. to return to the Neppel Landing Trail.
Sand Dunes Loop:
Highlights: This ride showcases sand dunes, wetlands, and good spots to see fish and fowl. The easternmost miles of Sand Dunes Road are a strange mix of Mad Max and Little House on the Prairie with barren dunes to your right and lush cornfields to the left. Potato Hill Road is a fun and smooth ride through green farms after escaping the slow grind of the dunes.
Hazards: Sand Dunes Road runs through an off-road vehicle park and has segments with very deep sand. If biking this route, be sure to ride a machine with a hefty tread. Unless your calves are mighty, be prepared to walk the bike for part of the road (beginners may need to push their bike for as much as two miles while intermediate riders might push for about half a mile). This loop is not a mountain biking must-do ride, but it can serve as a training route for riders looking for something that isn’t completely paved. Caution: During peak season the Sand Dunes ORV Park is not a place to find a peaceful ride or walk — bring earmuffs and a whip flag to withstand the onslaught of roaring dune buggies.
Distance: 14.7 miles.
Trip Instructions: From Blue Heron Park, follow Frontage Road west for 0.5 miles, then follow the curve to Hansen Road. Turn left onto Hansen Road and cross I-90. Turn left onto Sage Road. In 0.4 miles, turn right onto Sand Dunes Road. In 0.8 miles, the road turns from pavement to gravel. In 2.2 miles, pass the ‘trailhead’ for ORVs where several sandy trails split off to the right. Continue following the main road to the left. At this point, the road will become extremely primitive and the next 2.5 miles will be deep sand with some patches of gravel. In 2.5 miles, turn left onto Potato Hill Road. When the road forks in about 2.7 miles, take a slight right and follow Division Street for 1.6 miles. Continue over Broadway Avenue to the Neppel Landing Trail. Take a left on the trail and head southwest along the lakeshore. After a mile the trail merges with Marina Drive. Follow Marina Drive for 1.8 miles, then turn left onto Interlake Road. Almost immediately, turn right onto Broadway Avenue. In about fifty feet turn right onto the paved ‘Activity Trail’ and follow the trail back to Blue Heron Park.
Cascade Park/Water Tower Option Loop:
Highlights: This route is designed to travel from park to park and provides loop options of different lengths. If you choose to make the Cascade Park Loop, be sure to devote some time to chasing seagulls and looking around the Cascade Campground. The water tower loop has an overlook of the lake and Cascade Park and also passes by the County Fairgrounds. For added mileage and another park, connect to the Neppel Landing Trail via the Activity Trail along Stratford Rd.
Hazards: Valley Drive has a busy strip with considerable traffic that can be avoided by utilizing the multi-use path (translation: use the wide sidewalk along Valley Drive that allows pedestrians and cyclists). In addition, Valley Drive has the largest hill climb uncovered in Moses Lake (note: we’re confident that the intimidating 66-foot elevation gain will be no match for the the mighty legs and massive hearts of W.O. readers.)
- Park-to-park out and back: 3.8 miles.
- Cascade Park Loop: 0.75 miles.
- Water Tower Loop: 2.4 miles.
- Beginning at Knolls Vista Park, head south on Central Drive, which bends back around as Grape Drive. Turn left onto Valley Road. Continue 1.2 miles to Cascade Park for the out-and-back. The optional Cascade Park Loop adds 0.75 miles to the route.
- Alternatively, from Grape Drive take Valley Road 0.7 miles and turn right on Airway Drive. Complete this loop by turning right onto Lybbert Drive, left onto Moon Drive, right onto Market Street, left onto Gary Street, and finally a right onto Grape Drive to return to Knolls Vista Park.
Big Bend Loops:
Highlights: These loops begin at Big Bend Community College, and they’re a perfect way to switch modes from brains to brawn between classes. Added bonus: Parking is free on campus and doesn’t require a permit, so the college is a good place to begin a long route.
Hazards: Side effects of biking or walking outside on a beautiful day may include daydreaming, increased spaciness, and forgetting to return to class.
- Campus Loop: 1.6 miles.
- Randolph Road/Patton Boulevard Loop via Road 1: 5.3 miles.
- Randolph Road/Patton Boulevard Loop via Stratford Road: 8.5 miles.
- For the Campus Loop: Follow College Parkway around the rim of the college.
- For the Randolph Road/Patton Boulevard Loop: Begin at Big Bend and follow Randolph Road eastward. In 2.2 miles, turn right onto Tyndall Road. Take the next right onto Stratford Road. In 2.3 miles, turn right onto Harris Road, which will bend and become Loring Drive. Take the next right onto Patton Boulevard, which will return to the college in 1.3 miles.
To shorten the last loop, leave the college on Randolph Road. In 1.2 miles, turn right onto Road 6.7 (is this a terrible name for a road, or what?) and then a quick right onto Road 1 (are you sensing a lack of creativity in road naming?). Next turn right onto Loring Drive and finally turn right onto Patton Boulevard to return to the college.
Longer Ag Lands Loop:
Highlights: At sunset, this loop is a beautiful, quiet escape from the urban crunch. The length can be easily by adding or removing segments of farm roads.
Hazards: Stratford Road and State Route 17 may be congested during rush hour. Nonetheless, there are wide shoulders or multi-use sidewalks along most segments of this route.
Distance: 15.1 miles for the longest loop, using Road L. Use of Road 1, Stratford Road, and Road K give options for shortening the loop or for adding extra mileage by zigzagging. For route-plotting purposes, the agricultural roads tend to intersect on 1-mile by 1-mile intervals.
Trip Instructions: Beginning at Big Bend, follow Randolph Road eastward. In 2.2 miles, turn right onto Tyndall Road. Take the next right onto Stratford Road. Take the next left onto Road 7. In 2 miles, turn right on Road L. In 3 miles, turn right on Road 4. In 1 mile, turn left onto Broadway Extension. Take the next right onto State Route 17. In 0.9 miles, turn right onto Stratford Road. In 1.1 miles, turn left onto Harris Road, which will bend and become Loring Drive. Take the next right onto Patton Boulevard, which will return to the college in 1.3 miles.
Activities: biking, running, walking, roller blading/skating, skateboarding.
Nearest Town: Moses Lake.
Fitness: 1+ depending on route length and mode of transportation.
Elevation Gain: Minimal on all loops.
Access. Although it’s unlikely that any of these routes lead straight up to your front door, we tried to choose loops that cover a broad range of the city. There are plenty of quiet side roads on our maps that can help you access routes close to home/work, or that can be used to add mileage to the day’s tally.
Fees/Permits. The many parks in metropolitan Moses Lake are all free for visiting and parking.
More Info. Contact the Moses Lake Parks and Recreation Department. If you’d like to be involved with developing routes and trails around Moses Lake, the Trails Planning Team has monthly meetings open to the public.
Trip Reporter: Shelly Forster (9/26/12)
Leave It Better than You Found It. This should be every user’s goal. Do no damage and pick up trash left by others.
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.