Iron Horse Trail from Hyak to Olallie State Park

Description: The Iron Horse Trail (a.k.a. the John Wayne Pioneer Trail) is an old railroad line converted to a trail. The ride features a 2.5 mile long tunnel and several high trestle bridges. The long tunnel and the bridges help make the ride especially fun. Near Olallie State Park you may see some rock climbers climbing on the cliffs above the trail.
Location: Parallels I-90 starting at Hyak park near Exit 54 and going down to Olallie State Park near Exit 38.
Distance: About 17 miles
The Trail: Since it is an old railway grade the trail grade is very constant and gradual. The trail is lightly graveled, very similar to a hard packed gravel road. There is some deep gravel on some of the trestle bridges that will likely be too difficult to ride through. The maximum grade along the Iron Horse Trail is about 2.2%. The end of the ride where the trail goes down to Olallie State Park and the Twin Falls Trailhead there is a short section where the grade is over 10%.

The ride starts up at Hyak and immediately heads right through the tunnel. At mile 4.5 you will pass a snowshed. At mile 7 you will cross the first trestle bridge. The next trestle bridge is at mile 14. At mile 15 you will come to the third trestle bridge and an area that is used for rock climbing. If the weather is good you may see some rock climbers on the cliffs above the trail. You will cross one more trestle bridge at about mile 15.5. After mile 16 keep an eye out for the Twin Falls Trailhead heading downhill on your right. The turnoff is a wide doubletrack trail with the same gravel surface as the Iron Horse Trail. Take the trail down to Exit 38 and Olallie State Park. Be careful, the downhill section is more than a 10% grade. At the bottom of the Twin Falls Trailhead it is about 1/2 mile along the road to get to the parking area near Olallie State Park.

Notes: Since it is a gravel trail a unicycle with a wider low pressure tire will work better than a unicycle with a skinny tire. A Coker is ideal on this trail. A unicycle with a skinny high pressure 700 cc tire may have some difficulty with the gravel. The tunnel is very dark. It has a type of darkness that swallows photons. There is no ambient moonlight or starlight in the tunnel so it is darker than what you would experience on a normal night ride. A standard handheld flashlight will not put out enough light to ride. A powerful special purpose cycling light is highly recommended. I use a 15 watt NiteRider light mounted on my helmet and it seems barely adequate. If you try riding the tunnel with an inadequate light you will likely end up walking most of the tunnel instead of riding it. The tunnel is one of the best parts of the ride so bring a good light so you can enjoy it.

There are no drinking fountains along the trail. Carry enough water to get you through the ride. You will need to fill up on water before driving to the trailhead. There is no drinking water at either Hyak or Olallie State Park.

The trail is exposed and will get lots of sun. Sunscreen is a good idea.

Bring basic tools to be able to make common trail repairs. Things like a patch kit, pump, spare crank bolt, socket and wrench for the crank bolt, allen keys, etc.

A small first-aid kit would also be handy. A fall on gravel can leave you a little scraped up and bloody.

Total ride time will proabably be about 3.5 hours. Larger group rides are slower than indivdual rides. An individual rider who does not stop to socialize at all of the view points along the trail will be able to finish the ride much faster. Don't expect to ride as quickly on gravel as you do on pavement.

Getting There:
Directions to Hyak Head east on I-90 to Exit 54. Exit 54 is just past Snoqualmie Summit. At the end of the exit ramp turn right then immediately turn left on a road that parallels I-90 heading East. This road heads towards a Department of Transportation maintenance yard. When you reach the gated maintenance yard turn right. Take the first road going off to the right. Follow this road to the Hyak parking lot.

If you end up at Hyak Lodge or at Keechelus Lake you have missed the right turn heading to the Hyak parking lot.

The road to the Hyak parking lot is not on any of the maps that I have. Here is an aerial photo that shows the road. Follow the orange line to get to the Hyak parking area. HyakAerialPhoto.jpg

   
Directions to Olallie State Park from North Bend Head east on I-90 to Exit 38. At the end of the exit ramp turn right. Follow the road about a 1/4 mile until you come to a gravel parking area on the left. There will be porta-potties set up. Park here. Olallie State Park is a little further down the road on the left, but there is no trailhead parking there.

The on-ramps and exit-ramps for Exit 38 are not located right next to each other. The on-ramps and exit-ramps are located about a mile from each other. After you exit I-90 you will need to continue on the road past Olallie State Park to get to the on-ramp to get back on I-90.

The maps I have of the area around Exit 38 and Olallie State Park do not show the roads accurately. An aerial photo of the area shows the roads much more accurately. Olallie1.jpg Olallie2.jpg

When parking at the trailheads do not leave valuables in the car.

   
Directions to Olallie State Park from Snoqualmie Summit Head west on I-90 to Exit 38. At the end of the exit ramp turn left. Follow the road about 1/2 mile until you come to a gravel parking area on the right. There will be porta-potties set up. Park here. The parking area is just a little past the entrance to Olallie State Park. There is not trailhead parking in Olallie State Park so use the parking area on the right side of the road.

The on-ramps and exit-ramps for Exit 38 are not located right next to each other. The on-ramps and exit-ramps are located about a mile from each other. After you exit I-90 you will need to continue on the road past Olallie State Park to get to the on-ramp to get back on I-90.

The maps I have of the area around Exit 38 and Olallie State Park do not show the roads accurately. An aerial photo of the area shows the roads much more accurately. Olallie1.jpg Olallie2.jpg

When parking at the trailheads do not leave valuables in the car.

   
Maps: Overview map of the trail 1451 KB

The overview jpg maps don't have a high enough resolution for good printing. The purpose of the overview map is to give you an idea of the area. I'll have high resolution printed maps to hand out at the convention.