Located an easy eight miles east of Seattle proper, Lake Sammamish stretches from the city of Redmond, Washington, south to historic Issaquah.
More than seven miles of deep, clean, shred-ready water. Granted, it is a public body and as such can be susceptible to rollers and wind, but there are numerous protected, secluded lines up and down both sides of Lake Sammamish that offer smooth water on most days. A slalom course, maintained by the Lake Sammamish Waterski Club, has been located on the quiet north end of the lake since the mid-1950s.
While the local scene thrives 12 months of the year, you will want to ski Sammamish during Washington’s summer or fall months. At more than 100 feet deep, Sammamish is slow to warm up in the spring but will hover just below the 80-degree mark well into early fall. Summer skiing and boarding conditions are perfect, with no wetsuits needed. But the long, windless falls are the best time of the year. Dwindling boat traffic and Indian summer conditions make late September ideal.
To become immersed in water-sports history. Practically every manufacturing milestone has been tested on the waters of Lake Sammamish. Jobe, HO, Hyperlite, EP, O’Brien and Connelly skis were all initially designed and developed on Sammamish, with many of their founders living on the lake itself. Currently, you can run into the guys from Radar Skis and Ronix testing new product, holding team photo shoots or just enjoying the lake themselves. Skiing or riding Sammamish is breaking water on hallowed ground and truly has to be experienced.
If you are driving in, take I-90 east from Seattle to exit 17: Front Street North/Lake Sammamish Parkway. There is a boat launch at Lake Sammamish State Park a few miles north. If you are flying, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is roughly 40 minutes from the lake. With snow skiers flocking to the area all winter long, airline agents are generally relaxed if your ski bags are slightly overweight. Contact the Lake Sammamish Waterski Club (lswsc.org) before coming. Membership is a measly $55, and they may have advice for finding a pull if you don’t have access to a boat.
Where to stay and play:
Issaquah on the south end of the lake and Redmond on the north end both have the usual chains of affordable hotels, though there are more in Redmond. Located less than a mile from Lake Sammamish State Park is the Joker Pub and Grill, with beautiful servers, good fish tacos and aggressive pours. Time Out is located a few miles south in Issaquah and is a great lunch spot. For dinner, try El Toreador in Redmond for life-altering Mexican food and margaritas.