Like getting a bargain at the second hand store, trail users have their own tunnel.  It's the 2 mile long "Snoqualmie Tunnel."  Such an engineering feat would never be afforded to mere bicyclists, but the railroad was "important business" back in the days when this tunnel was built.  Now that Milwaukee Railroad is gone, its tunnel is like a prize piece of furniture that has been cast away to a second hand shop.  Cyclists and other trail users can take advantage of this significant facility that the rest of society has no more use for.

West end of trail located near North Bend, Washington about 30 miles east of Seattle.

snoqualmie tunnel
Image taken 2013.

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1996

Tunnel closure information Washington State Parks web site.
Some tunnels closed, but Snoqualmie Tunnel now open again.

In 1980 the Milwaukee Road railroad ceased operation.  Its old facilities still cross the Cascade Mountains just east of Seattle.  Recently, the right of way has been turned into a linear state park called the Iron Horse State Park.  Trail is called the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.

Eventually this trail may cross the entire state, but only sections of it are completed today.  A significant segment starts by North Bend, WA.  There are several places to access the trail from.  A good westerly starting point is at Rattle Snake Lake just south of North Bend. 

Iron Horse Trail crosses the Cascade Mountains just south of I-90 and Snoqualmie Pass.  It goes over several trestles and through a tunnel that is two miles long.  Trail is snowed in during much of the winter.  The long tunnel is usually closed November 1-May 1, or so.   Now closed all year due to some safety concerns.  Hope they can repair it.

Lake Easton State Park, about 10 miles east of Snoqualmie Pass, serves as an eastern headquarters point.

Contact Washington State parks for the latest information. 1-800-233-0321


Some ways to get there.


Trail crossing an old trestle.

 
Some rusty rail equipment still visible.

Picture taken 1996. Bring a light and enjoy.  Trail heads through tunnel and comes out by Lake Keechelus.

2001
A shorter tunnel east of Lake Keechelus.


2001
Trail side camping along the Iron Horse east of North Bend, Washington.


2001
From end of one of the trestles.


2001
Lake Keechelus

Pictures below taken 2005

Lake Easton State Park
Bridge for Iron Horse Trail through Lake Easton State Park.


Iron Horse Trail
"Light at the end of the tunnel."  West end of Snoqualmie Tunnel.

 
Comments submitted by readers

Some History

Hello,
I read your article on your trip on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. I felt compelled to fill you in with a very short history of the Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel (Tunnel No 50). The reason for the addition of Tunnel No 50 was to provide protection from avalanches for trains traversing the summit. The survey for the tunnel was completed in 1908. In 1911 work had begun on Tunnel No 50. The tunnel was completed on January 1, 1915 for $2,000,000.00. On January 15,1915 the first eastbound train passed through the tunnel. At 11,888 feet the Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel was the longest tunnel on the Milwaukee Road's system. It took 700 men to compete the tunneling. The process was started from the west portal and the east portal. The road crews meant in the middle on August 4, 1914. The Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel construction was unique in that it used the European Method of heading. The actual name of the trail is Iron Horse State Park and John Wayne Pioneer Trail. The trail starts at Cedar Falls and continues to Vantage on the Columbia river for a distant of 109 miles. There are 5 train tunnels on the trail between Cedar Falls and Thorp. Lake Easton State Park is approximately 16 miles east of Snoqualmie Pass.

Cheers!

Maurya
Interpretive Assistant
Lake Easton State Park
Sent Jan. 2007.


More comments

My wife and I enjoyed bicycling through the Snoqualmie tunnel at Hyak, though it was slippery, wet and dark.  Luckily, we had headlamps. The views at the tressle were spectacular. Today they had a special bicycling event.  We also bicycled in the opposite direction and again, were impressed with the vista. Thanks for all your information. 

Marcus


Another reader writes

The section from Easton up to the pass and the tunnel is a great ride,  The rangers have secure overnight parking at Easton State Parks.  I had a bike trailer and camped along the Keechelis Lake.  The section past the Lake is wonderful with lots of biker and hiker users today.  The tunnel seems to be quite the tourist spot and will likely develop a big reputation over time.  Parks may have to do some fix up on it as some of the folks were ridding and walking with out lights and the side wall drain have holes to fall in.  Had a couple young guys ride back through with me whom had rode through without lights and crashed.

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