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Biking the Snoqualmie Tunnel
posted by John : August 24, 2014


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No idea


The Snoqualmie Tunnel was completed in 1914. In 1980 it was abandoned in favor of an alternate route and became part of Iron Horse State Park. I first rode it before kids and haven't been in it since. After an early morning Mailbox we gathered up the kids dropped a car at the closest crossing of the 20+ mile trail, and started riding from the eastern portal.

It's dark. And cold. And drippy.

From 2009 to 2011 the tunnel was closed so they could work on it. It's now smooth concrete on the walls. I remember it being rough hewn rock all the way along. It was scarier back then.

I rode first. The kids followed and Amy made sure nobody got lost.

"Why are you going so slowly?"

Ok, pedal harder. When we burst out of the tunnel into the bright sunlight we were surprised to see storm clouds and the rumble of thunder. Surely, that would stay on the east side of the Pass, right?

We pedaled hard and moved quickly for about six miles before the storm caught us. Pounding rain that became hail. We jumped off the bikes and climbed up a bank to wait out the pain. I looked around and found the kids were way up the bank in a little cave.

"We're just like Bear Grylls!"

The hail stopped, but the rain never did. It was a cold, wet ride for the last few miles. Everyone stripped and jumped into the car. The bikes were left in a pile beside the road. I'd be back with the other car and bike rack to pick them up later. More important was getting home and eating some ice cream. No matter how cold you are, ice cream always makes it better.

On a better day the Iron Horse ride is a great one. Riding through the tunnel is a surreal experience and the slight grade when heading west means you can almost (but not quite) coast at a decent speed. Make sure you take coats and good headlamps if you go.

And maybe check the forecast, too.

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