Iron Horse Trail from Hyak to Rattlesnake Lake

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 Rattlesnake Lake near Exit 32.
Distance: About 22 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 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. I cannot remember if there are any more trestle bridges after the 15.5 mile mark. Shortly after mile 21 the trail will end at a blacktop road. Turn right on the blacktop road and head downhill. You will pass through a gate across the road. Continue on about a 1/4 mile to the Rattlesnake Lake parking area. If you are continuing along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail the Snoqualmie Valley Trail will be on your right across the road from the small trailhead parking area.

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 Rattlesnake Lake.

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.

This ride can be combined with the Snoqualmie Valley Trail to create a ride from the Snoqualmie Summit all the way to Mt. Si High School in Snoqualmie. Total distance for the combined ride would be about 32 miles and take you from an elevation of 2660 feet at the summit to an elevation of 420 feet at Mt. Si High School. The 2% grade makes this trail very ridable in the uphill direction too.

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

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

   
Directions to Rattlesnake Lake from I-90 Take Exit 32 from I-90. At the end of the exit ramp head south on 436th Ave. SE. This road becomes Cedar Falls Road SE after 0.6 miles. Continue on Cedar Falls Rd for 2.5 to 3 miles till you reach Rattlesnake Lake.

At Rattlesnake Lake there will be a small trailhead parking area on your right. The main parking areas for Rattlesnake Lake will be straight ahead. The main parking areas get locked in the evening. If you are going to be riding late then park in the small trailhead lot outside of the gates.

Driving directions

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

   
Directions to Rattlesnake Lake from North Bend Head east on North Bend Way till you reach 436th Ave. SE. Turn right (south) on 436th Ave. SE. This road becomes Cedar Falls Road SE after 0.6 miles. Continue on Cedar Falls Rd for 2.5 to 3 miles till you reach Rattlesnake Lake.

At Rattlesnake Lake there will be a small trailhead parking area on your right. The main parking areas for Rattlesnake Lake will be straight ahead. The main parking areas get locked in the evening. If you are going to be riding late then park in the small trailhead lot outside of the gates.

Driving directions

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

   
Maps: Overview map of the trail 2418 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.