Iron Horse Trail

Three Days on the Iron Horse Trail part 3

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge
Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge

It was again nice and cool in the mountains, for which I remained a bit under clothed.  But I slept pretty well on this night after two days of hard riding and there is nothing better then waking up in the woods to the calling of birds. I packed up, cooked breakfast, washed up and got out in a fairly timely manner.  As I was riding away there was a loud rubbing sound and I pulled over to find my rear tire flat.  Pumping it up did no good, so I returned to camp.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Tenting at Cold Creek Campground
Tenting at Cold Creek Campground

This I have to say is the first real flat I may have ever had on the several sets of Schwalbe Marathon Pluses I’ve used.  On pulling out the tube I discovered that it had split on a seem. Considering that I transferred this tube over from the last set I had put over 10,000 miles on it’s possible it had just worn out. But still I’ve had no punctures on the Pluses. I replaced the tube and returned to the trail.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Looking up Cold Creek
Looking up Cold Creek

I returned to the trail right above Cold Creek and was in the soft gravel section of the trail.  Since there was only about three miles of that, it meant I was back at Hyak in pretty short order. I took advantage of the running water there to wash up better after my tire changing adventure. Again it was mostly clear skies here, but mists were pouring over the mountain indicating that there was plenty of clouds on the west side.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Hyak
Looking west from the Hyak Trailhead

There was a lot less people at the trailhead on Memorial Day proper then there was yesterday. I looked forward to a more sedate trip through the Snoqualmie Tunnel.  Since on this day I was heading all the way home, but starting a almost fifteen miles further away I was going to be pushing the whole day to not arrive home to late.  But it was also going to be a lot more downhill, including all of my time on the IHT after the tunnel. So I didn’t spend much time at Hyak and soon hit the tunnel.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - East Entrance to the Snoqualmie Tunnel
East Entrance to the Snoqualmie Tunnel

There was only a few other travelers making the trek through the tunnel. It seemed to me that there was no point in the two mile stretch where I couldn’t see light from the entrance in my mirror or from the exit ahead. Which I think goes to show just how perfectly straight this tunnel is.  On the other side I took off some of my warmer clothes and took in the scene on the western side. There was clouds and mists everywhere, just pouring off the mountain peaks and into the valleys. But looking to the west it was clear it was breaking up.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Peaks and Valleys
Peaks and valleys in the mists

I had about thirty miles to ride on the trail but it was all gently sloped downwards.  I pushed it all the way, thinking that I’d  try to get to Snoqualmie for lunch. I stopped a few times to take pictures as the mists broke up and more of the surroundings became clearer. It began to warm up a bit, though it mostly a chilly (though not cold) descent.  There was a few other people on the trail, but nothing like the day before.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Sun breaking through the mists
Sun breaking through the mountain mists

Beyond those few photo stops I kept up a good pace on the hard packed gravel trail.  It took me less then two hours to make it back to the Cedar Falls trailhead.  Once again I rode out to the Environmental Center to take advantage of the water fountains. I hadn’t bothered to filter water back at camp as I had enough left over to make it this far, if I was judicious with my use. That all worked out as planned and after filling up I took back to the trails now following the Upper Snoqualmie Valley Trail into Snoqualmie.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Atlantis on the trestle
Atlantis on a trestle on the IHT

Riding on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail in mid-day was definitely a more scenic experience then at dust when I’d come up two days ago. I was able to see into the woods at the various houses,  resorts  and private camps along the Snoqualmie River and look much further up the rivers at the various crossings. But I was ready for lunch and I stayed on the bicycle most of the time pushing ahead into Snoqualmie.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Rattlesnake Ridge Detial
Rattlesnake Ridge

When I arrived in Snoqualmie I decided to return to Snoqualmie Falls Brewery as I’d been pining for another  Pre-Prohibition Pilsner. This time I lingered and had lunch as well.  I’d made good enough time that I decided that I didn’t have to just push my way home so I rode through Snoqualmie taking pictures of the train graveyard. While I was doing this I heard the short line tourist stream train coming up the tracks and I hastily pulled over and managed to get a shot of the engine just as it steamed past.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Snoqualmie Steam Engine
Snoqualmie Steam Engine

I then decided to head up to Snoqualmie Falls, which I’ve visited often and always enjoy seeing. Definitely the premier waterfall close to Seattle not to mention being a prominent feature of Twin Peaks plus the home of the regionally well regarded Salish Lodge means it draws a lot of tourists. So I never linger long, but I always enjoy spending a few minutes gazing into the endlessly cascading sheets of water.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Snoqualmie Falls Closeup
The Falls


After gazing into the hypnotic falls for some time I bought a few postcards, filled up my water bottles and headed out. I took a different route back, which I have to say is definitely the best route to take returning from the area. I rode hwy 207 to Fall City which descending on is a much better deal than climbing up what with all the traffic. This leads to Fall City where I I took the Preston-Fall City Road until I was able to connect with the trails in Preston. You do climb a bit up to Preston on this route, but nothing compared with climbing up to Snoqualmie Ridge. The road has a wide should and while there is plenty of traffic, it’s fine and you aren’t on it for many miles. Definitely the shortest and least hilly way back. Then it was just taking the various trails back to Seattle:  Preston-Snoqualmie Trail,  Issaquah-Preston Trail, and the  I-90 Trail portion of the Mountains to Sound Greenway. Then it was up the greenway to Beacon Hill and home. I’d made it home by 7pm, still light out and enough time to shower, make dinner and relax a bit before bed.  

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - No Shooting
My sentiments exactly

Overall it was a great trip, if much too short. There is so much to explore in the Central Cascades that one could easily spend another 3-4 days there without even riding much further east on the Iron Horse Trail. Cle Elum and Rosyln would provide towns with plenty of breweries, coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores. Then there are just endless miles of forest roads to ride around with such attractions as Stampede Pass, Tacoma Pass and the ghost town of Lester. Lake Easton State Park looks like a nice place to stay and check out the lake and I’m sure there was more stuff around Keechelus Lake as well.  Then there was just countless hiking trails right off the IHT which I would love to stash the bicycle and spend so time checking out. I know for sure I’ll be back to do more extensive explorations.

early season dragonflies
dancing, dancing —
how quickly the sun sets

Miles ridden today: 68
Miles ridden total: 181
Photographs:  this day/all days

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