The John Wayne Pioneer Trail Is A Seattle “Must” Bike Ride
The astonishing views and the 2.2% grade over the 21 mile section of the trail is what makes The John Wayne Pioneer Trail a “Must” summer bike ride…The very popular Iron Horse State Park is a 1,612-acre park that was once part of the path of the Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad. The John Wayne Pioneer Trail travels along the long axis of this park and follows the abandoned rail bed.
The trail begins just north of North Bend at Rattle Snake Lake and runs 110 miles up and over the pass and then out to the Idaho border. When people talk about the John Wayne Pioneer Trail they are usually referring to the most popular section of the trail that runs from Rattle Snake Lake to Hyak (21 miles).
Sometimes the park is referred to as the “backbone” of the Mountains-to-Sound Greenway. The grade is very subtle and includes: spectacular scenery, campsites, and a 2.3 mile rail tunnel under Snoqualmie Pass. The trail is used by hikers, bikers, equestrians, and those wanting a trail for cross country skiing. The compact gravel path makes the trail stroller and wheelchair friendly. One of the most popular attractions over the years has been the Snoqualmie Tunnel, often referred to as Tunnel 50. The two-mile tunnel was bored between 1912 and 1914. After its conversion to a park, the tunnel made for a spooky addition to a hike or bike ride. It is dark enough to require a flashlight or headlamp to navigate, and comes complete with dripping water, echoing conversations, and the chill of being underground. The ride or hike is a real breeze, passing old snow sheds and depots and going over trestles, the relics of the Milwaukee Railroad ads flavor to the flat trail. It is difficult to totally escape the dull roar of I-90; still the dozens of creeks and streams offer nice stopping points to trade the noise for the sound of rushing water. A number of campsites also dot the trail, offering a few comfortable places for the long distance hiker or biker to bed down for the night.
Quick Facts for the John Wayne Pioneer Trail
- Ascent: 450ft
- Total Distance: 21 miles (Cedar Falls to Hyak)
- Required Permit: Discover Pass
- Difficulty: Easy (family friendly)
- Wide Tires: Wide tires are advised for the loose gravel
- Discover Pass: Required
- Information Line: (509) 656-2230
- Summer Hours: 6:30 AM to 9 PM
- Winter Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the Cedar Falls trailhead, take I-90 to Exit 32. Head south on 436th Avenue SE/Cedar Falls Road for 4 miles. Pass the Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area entrance, and turn left into Iron Horse State Park.
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