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“Awesome Ride!”
Review of Iron Horse Trail

Iron Horse Trail
Ranked #10 of 16 things to do in North Bend
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Attraction details
Owner description: A popular mountain biking trail located just outside Seattle.
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Awesome Ride!”
Reviewed 18 May 2007

Dropped off at Exit 62 of I-90 and rode south for about 1 mile to pcik up the trail. Turned right onto the trail and then enjoyed a very scenic and pleasant ride through woods, along a lake and then through the tunnel. After the tunnel - it is all DOWNHILL to Rattlesnake Lake. Once at Rattlesnake Lake, picked up the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and rode on that until it abruptly ends at the end of a trestle near Tokul Road. Getting on Tokul Road and then traveling 3 miles - the trail picks up again and you can take it 11.3 more miles to Carnation (actually it goes an additional 9 miles to Bothel). Average speed: 10.8mph. Time: 4.5 hours with breaks.

5 Thank cuuldad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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21 reviews from our community

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English first
A TripAdvisor Member
“Awesome bike ride on the Western 2/3 of the Iron Horse Trail”
Reviewed 15 October 2005

Sept 24, 2005:
My intent was to bicycle (in 2 days) the entire Iron Horse trail (AKA John Wayne Pioneer Trail), from Rattlesnake Lake (AKA Cedar Falls) near North Bend to Vantage on the Columbia River. 108.6 miles according to the brochure available at most trailheads. Parking at trailheads costs $5. Bring water (I brought 6 qt). Pit toilets & portapotties are spaced along the trail, but little water.

The trail follows the old Milwaukee Railroad grade. It is unpaved but the western half is reasonably well-packed gravel so I made good time on the 18-mile upgrade to the tunnel (2.2% maximun grade). The first few miles go through forest land so you could start at Twin Falls (4.5 from start) and still get the good views. Some people also park where the trail crosses Garcia Road, about 7 miles from start (you need a 4WD for that). Bring a camera, there are awesome mountain vistas everywhere. About 2 miles before the tunnel I put on sunglasses so my eyes were somewhat adapted to the darkness when I got there. You need lights in the tunnel. It’s 2 miles long and pitch dark. It's closed from October through April.

The East portal comes out at Hyak where they’ve built a restroom with indoor plumbing & showers in the style of an oldtime Railway station. Water is available only at the rest room washbowls.

East of Hyak the trail is much less used. I passed lovely Lake Keechelus and started the long downgrade into Easton (18 mi from Hyak). Less scenic than the Western side, but I still got some great shots. Two short tunnels. Lights not needed, but helpful.

Easton is a working Railroad town. The trail parallels the BNSF tracks on and off for quite a way. I even saw a train. Water is available at the Easton trailhead.

Easton to S. Cle Elum (11.5 miles): The trail gets flatter and the looser gravel makes the going more difficult. This is mostly farmland with some nice views of the Yakima river. I spent the night in Cle Elum.

Sept 25, 2005:
East of Cle Elum the going gets harder. Deep loose gravel getting generally worse the farther East you go. I let some air out of my tires, which helped a little. I averaged about 4 MPH for the day, wishing the whole time for a mountain bike.

Here the trail enters semi dessert with irrigation farming and ranching. Sun block is essential. The trail goes through a canyon with some interesting rock formations and fine views of the river. Beyond is cattle country, with gates across the trail to keep livestock in (I dismounted, opened the gates and closed them after myself). There are two tunnels between Cle Elum and Thorp (lights needed for one of them). I passed an abandoned family farm. A relic of a vanishing lifestyle.

Thorp (18 miles from Cle Elum) is not much but just beyond is a Fruit and Antique store on the Freeway where you could probably get some water.

The 7 miles from Thorp to Ellensburg West were the hardest yet. Straight and fairly flat, but oh that gravel! There were stretches where I had to get off and walk my bike. At this point I decided to cut my ride short. I had ridden 6 hours and I was exhausted, with only 25 miles to show for the day and 33 miles of trail left. It was obvious that my bike (Novara XR) was not up to the challenge. East of Cle Elum you REALLY need a mountain bike! After a quick cell phone call (there are a few dead spots, but cell phones work over most of the trail) my wife picked me up and we headed for Vantage by car.

East of Ellensburg the terrain gets really arid. The freeway goes over a high ridge (about 1000 ft) before descending to the Columbia. The brochure shows the trail going through a tunnel about there, so maybe its elevation gain isn’t that large. The last 20 miles of the trail go through an Army firing range. It ends about 12 miles South of Vantage near Huntzinger Road.

I hope to ride the rest of the trail someday soon on a mountain bike. When I do, I’ll finish this review.

21 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
“Enjoying the Iron Horse Trail”
Reviewed 22 June 2003

I am fortunate enough to be able to ride up the Iron Horse Trail from my back yard and do so on a weekly basis during the spring and summer months. The scenery is beautiful, the ride is much improved since the removal of the original tressels, (which were at times fairly scary depending on the height of the tressel). We recently decided to take a different approach and experience the trail in a different manner, we drove up to the East Snoqualmie summit exit and picked up the trail there, walked through the two mile tunnel. As we approached the tunnel I could feel the cold air coming from within, I was wishing I had brought an extra layer of cloths. With flashlights in hand we entered the darkness. As we got into the tunnel and our eyes adjusted to the darkness we could see the light at the end of the other end of the tunnel. As promised the tunnel did not disapoint, it was dark to the point of dis-orienting at times, cold and damp with drips, to down right down poors from above. Once through the tunnel we made our way to Rattlesnake lake and from there back home. There are a few porta pottys along the way, with plenty of side ares for a picnic, watch the novice rock climbers learn skills or to just rest, re-hydrate and enjoy the many different views. One extra benifit is that the other cyclists are courtious and are willing to help those who may need a hand with flat tires or other minor maitenance repairs that can and do happen on occasion. Still lots to explore on this trail even though we have lived and rode on this trail for 11 years. "Bottom" comfort level at the end of the ride.......sore, but worth it. Have a good ride!

9 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
“It's all down hill baby!”
Reviewed 19 May 2003

Take two trucks/ bike carriers. Park one at Rattlesnake Lake or which ever trail head you want to end at. Drive the bikes up to Snoqualmie pass, Hyak parking lot. Unload bikes, start toward tunnel. If you have no flash light/headlight. Load bikes back up and leave. You won't make it thru the tunnel without a light. Over 2 miles of pitch black. If you failed to bring a rain coate (bare minimum) prepare to freeze your tail off. Lots of dripping from above! The novelty wears off before the light at the end of the tunnel. But its memorable. Then things get fun. Great scenary, high rail road trussel crossings, optional side trails, and all down hill! Its a very gradual grade that requires very little effort. Kids from 8 years up with some riding skill. Great ride!

17 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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