Washington State Parks
4. Tunnel adventure at Snoqualmie Pass
Route: Palouse to Cascades Trail from the Hyak parking lot through the Snoqualmie Tunnel
Info: Palouse to Cascades Trail and Iron Horse tunnel
Distance: 5–20 miles round trip
At Snoqualmie Pass, an exhilarating (or terrifying, depending on how you look at it) cycling adventure awaits: The 2.5-mile Snoqualmie Tunnel, a former railway tunnel that bores through the mountain on the 110-mile gravel rail trail known as the Palouse to Cascades Trail (formerly the Iron Horse Trail). “It is the longest tunnel open to nonmotorized travel in the U.S.,” says Russ Roca of the Path Less Pedaled website. Park at Hyak, an entry point to the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail at Snoqualmie Pass (you’ll need a Discover Pass to park). West of the lot, find the trail, a wide gravel path that leads to a metal gate; the tunnel entrance is about one-third of a mile away.
Be sure to wear reflective clothing, and bring bright bike lights and well-charged headlamps. Hikers and bikers traveling at various speeds — that you cannot see without a light — can be inside the tunnel. Roca also recommends extra layers: Even if the temperature outside the tunnel is 75 degrees, the inside can be a chilly 45.
Stop for a picnic and views at the end of the tunnel, or continue on for a backcountry cycling experience that offers bridges over beautiful rivers, campsites and even crosses the Pacific Crest Trail. Once you head back into the tunnel for your return trip, you will not see the light at the end of the tunnel until you reach the bend near the start. Find more info at the Washington Trails Association website.
Minimum age: All ages of kids who are comfortable riding on gravel (and not too afraid of the “dark”).
Snack stops: This is a bring-your-own-snacks ride, but you could start a little campfire at one of the campsites on the side of the trail and roast marshmallows. Or pack your favorite picnic fare.