Outdoors

Trail of the week

A young cyclist exits the Snoqualmie Tunnel on the Iron Horse Trail.
A young cyclist exits the Snoqualmie Tunnel on the Iron Horse Trail. Staff writer

Snoqualmie Tunnel

HIKE DESCRIPTION: The John Wayne Pioneer Trail offers a sure-fire way to escape the heat this summer. As the 100-mile trail (stretching from North Bend to the Columbia River on an old rail corridor now called Iron Horse State Park) passes through the 2.3-mile Snoqualmie Tunnel.

Leaving from the Hyak trailhead near Exit 54 on Interstate 90, hikers and bikers can reach the tunnel in a matter of minutes. Then they can expect to spend most of the rest of their hike in the cool, dark confines of the tunnel. It’s the perfect trail for kids and adults to let their imaginations wander. The trail can be quite busy on weekends and all users should take steps protect themselves and others. On a recent trip with my son, we rode bikes and were lucky not to hit a family who had entered the tunnel using only the flashlight apps on their phones. They were nearly invisible until we were almost on top of them.

There’s plenty of room to rest and have a picnic on the other side of the tunnel before the return trip. Miles can be easily tacked on on either side of the tunnel.

DIRECTIONS: From Interstate 90 on Snoqualmie Pass take Exit 54 and follow state Route 906 east and follow the signs to the Iron Horse Trail. There is a large parking area.

DIFFICULTY RATING: 3 (1 easiest, 5 most difficult)

MILES ROUND-TRIP: 5.4

ELEVATION: Mostly flat.

BEST TIME OF THE YEAR: May-October.

MAP: Green Trails 207: Snoqualmie Pass.

PASS: Discover Pass.

ALSO: Construction on the tunnel was completed in 1914 and it was retired in 1980. After becoming a popular destination for hikers and bikers, the tunnel was closed in 2009. After $700,000 in repairs it reopened in 2011. Dogs are permitted on the trail if they stay on leashes. A good light source (and a backup light source) and jacket are recommended. There are several geocaches located in and around the tunnel.

INFO: parks.wa.gov.

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