Going under Snoqualmie Pass

  • Day 3, July 17: 60.5 miles, total miles: 140.1 – bike on regional trails and a few city streets
  • Parks, Trails, & Places of Significance: Snoqualmie Valley Trail, Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, Iron Horse State Park (P2CSP), Snoqualmie Tunnel, Keechelus Lake, Cle Elum (food & showers)

Starting out the day with Alicia and Andy had me feeling a little bit like we were back on the Canyon. It’s a real treat to have one’s friends make you coffee and cook you breakfast before they go to work (and you’re on vacation). Thanks Andy and Alicia for being awesome people I’m grateful to call friends!

We got back on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and in couple of miles made it to Rattlesnake Lake and the Cedar Falls trailhead, the western terminus of the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail. The P2C(spt) – as Gabriel and I started to call it – is a nearly 224-mile rail-to-trail gravel path that goes from Rattlesnake Lake out to the WA/ID border.

We started riding east, enjoying the shade and views out to the mountains on the north side of I-90. A new perspective on peaks hiked up and climbed often in the winter, summer after-hours dashes, and close-to-home summit bivvies. We saw climbers, mountain bikers (going to the new Olallie trail on Mt. Washington) and cyclists along the trail.

The P2C trail slowly goes up via the gentle railroad grade of the old Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad, also known as the Milwaukee Road. From Rattlesnake Lake, it’s a little over 18 miles and ~2,500 feet to the Snoqualmie Tunnel. Thanks to the railroad grade, you hardly know you are going uphill!

The 2+ mile tunnel is a popular hike or cycling destination, especially on a hot summer day. We had figured there would be handful of people here on a weekday. But we encountered well over 100 folks on Tuesday. Groups of all ages with flash lights and glow sticks enjoying the experience of walking through the chilly, oh-so-dark, echo-y tunnel that goes under Snoqualmie Pass.

On the Yakima River side of the pass in the afternoon sun, we started to feel the heat of the day. We took extra breaks to stay cool – resting in shade while devouring Trail Butter (less sugar then our old favorite Nutella), resting in the shade and listening to aspen leaves bangle in the breeze, resting in the shade while making motel reservations.

Originally we’d planned to camp at Lake Easton State Park. But we got there before 4:30. Much too early for our thru-hiking selves to stop in good conscience. So we kept going, knowing any miles made today would make things easier tomorrow around Ellensburg where it is supposed to be above 90 degrees and windy.

East of the mountains, the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail is a loose gravel path. Several long stretches from Cabin Creek into Cle Elum must have recently had new gravel added because the going got slower and slippy in places. It made the last 13 miles into Cle Elum A LOT slower.

I realized I had to shift points of reference and accept the conditions. While riding on the Burke means it’s easy to sustain 12 mph (or more), it’s not the norm for riding P2C on the Hyak to Ellensburg side. Thankfully the Yakima River, cool breezes, and shade of ponderosa pines and aspen invigorated us and we made it to town. Time to dust off!


Andy slices up watermelon for breakfast!

Mukmuk enjoying his cup of coffee, eggs from A&A’s chickens, homemade bread, nasturtium blossoms, and watermelon!

All set up for bikepacking!

Gabriel and Mukmuk at the start of the recently renamed Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail. Mukmuk wants everyone to know that this park and trail receive funding through an amazing program that is oh so special and so important to our state the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. The WWRP has been far-sighted effort by a broad coalition to protect habitat lands, acquire valuable recreation lands, and develop recreation areas for the growing population of Washington State. It’s provided more than $764 million to 1,250+ projects around the state. In college, I had the good fortune to intern for the WWRC that advocates for this program and began to develop an understanding for land conservation efforts.

Riding on one of the many trestles of the P2C. Some 25 years ago, before the trail was completed, some of these trestles had segments missing – with no way to span the airy heights. Now the trestles are an easy ride. One more remind of what can take a few seconds do today, was much effort and years in the making.

Checking out the avalanche shed.

Looking northeast to Snoqualmie Pass, Snoqualmie Peak, Guye, and Kendall.

Mukmuk is happy to be at the Snoqualmie Tunnel!

After 2.25 miles we found the light at the end of the tunnel.

Entering a welcome shady stretch of the trail. It’s warm in ponderosa pine country.

One thought on “Going under Snoqualmie Pass

  1. DONALD W MALONE says:

    Sounds like you are having a good adventure other than maybe being too warm. I see it is supposed to be hot next week also. We had a good trip to Marysville this week as we got to connect with my nursing school friend and her husband and Eulah and another widow whose son played baseball with Dave. Thorsteds were supposed to have made it up to Bellingham and suggested we go up there while we were closer but we decided another 90 miles up on I-5 especially since they were having partial road closures from Arlington north was more than we wanted to undertake. They sleep in their living room at home because Ray has such a time getting around and yet they were going up to Sandypoint to work on their deck –and we didn’t want them to have to entertain us on top of their other chores. It is quite cool here today. Stay safe and enjoy your vacation. Love you very much. Gma

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