Tiger Mountain - Preston Railroad Trail & Northwest Timber Trail
|Description:||Tiger Mountain is one of the most popular Seattle
area mountain biking destinations. On a weekend afternoon
it can be difficult to find a parking place at the
trailhead. Tiger Mountain offers some wonderful rocky,
rooty, nothwest style singletrack with a few climbs
thrown in for fun. There are three singletrack trails on
Tiger Mountain that are open to cyclists - The Preston
Railroad Trail, Northwest Timber Trail, and Iverson
The upper part of the Preston Railroad trail is built on an old logging railroad bed. The first part of the trail is rolling up and down as it follows a contour line around the East Tiger Mountain peak. The trail gets very rooty where it meets up with the old railroad bed. The ground under the old railroad bed is hard packed forcing the roots to grow along the surface. It's a bumpy and difficult section of trail with roots growing at odd angles that force your wheel to go in directions you don't want it to go. After the rooty section the downhill switchbacks begin. The trail gives you almost 1000 vertical feet of downhill on the switchbacks. In the early spring when the mountain springs are gurgling the upper switchbacks can turn into a small stream. You're literally riding in running water. Fortunately the trail dries up in the summer. The ride finishes with the Northwest Timber Trail. The Northwest Timber Trail follows a contour line but still manages to sneak in more than 100 vertical feet of climbing. This loop is one of my favorite local rides.
|Location:||East Tiger Mountain located on Highway 18 just 15 minutes from Snoqualmie and North Bend.|
|Distance:||About 11 to 12 miles|
|Difficulty:||Intermediate to advanced. Difficulty level is due to distance, amount of climbing, and rooty trails.|
|The Trail:||From the lower parking area take the gated gravel
road to the right. The road begins
climbing. The climb is a little more than 3 miles long at
takes you up about 1140 vertical feet. At the 0.2 mile
mark you will pass the Northwest Timber Trail on your
right. A little further and you will pass the Connector
Trail on your left that takes you to the Iverson Railroad
Trail. But the ride to Preston continues upward on the
dirt road. At the 1.5 mile mark you will come to an
overlook and a viewpoint. It's a good spot to rest. The
climbers can continue on without stopping, but the rest
of us will enjoy the excuse to rest up. The steep part of
the climb is over. The rest of the climb is not as steep
(unless you are crazy enough to try the optional steep
climb to the East Tiger Mountain summit). At the 2.8 mile
mark you will come to an intersection. Take a left
to head up to Preston. It's about 0.4 miles to the
Preston Railroad Trail. The Preston Railroad Trail will
be on your right. The climb up to
Preston will take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour
depending on how often you stop to rest.
The Preston Railroad Trail is about 3.5 miles of mostly downhill singletrack. The trail starts with some rolling ups and downs as it follows a contour line. Then it hits the rooty section. Now the switchbacks start and the real fun begins. It's a bumpy ride down.
The Preston Railroad Trail exits onto a dirt road. Take a left on the dirt road (Crossover Road). About 0.2 miles later take a right onto East Side Road. Follow East Side Road about 2 miles. You'll come to an intersection with a new logging road heading uphill and a pile of gravel. The Northwest Timber Trail is on your right just after this intersection.
The Northwest Timber Trail is about 2 miles long. The first part of the trail is fairly smooth, but has a slight grade upwards. The trail will gain about 100 feet of elevation. After the gentle climb the trail gets a little more technical. There will be several bridge crossings.
The Northwest Timber Trail exits onto Main Tiger Road which we already climbed to get to the Preston Railroad Trail. Take a left and head downhill back to the cars. Whew.
Total ride time is usually a little less than 3 hours when I'm riding by myself. With a larger group the ride will take longer. I would estimate about 3.5 to 4 hours for a group ride. I'm usually exhausted at the end of the ride and sometimes end up walking the last bit of the Northwest Timber Trail because I have no energy left to ride.
|Notes:||There is no water available at the trailhead. Bring
all the water you are going to need with you in the car.
You can easily go through 60oz of water on this ride.
Bring enough water with you.
Pack some basic tools with you. It is a long walk back to the car if you have a mechanical.
There are two parking lots at the trailhead. The lower lot is right by Highway 18. The upper lot is straight through the lower lot, take a left through the open gate, and follow the dirt road about 0.25 miles. The upper lot will be on your right.
There is a pit toilet at the upper parking lot.
These are all multiple use trails. The trails here are open for hikers, horses, and mountain bikes. Yield the trail for hikers. Dismount the unicycle for horses and stand by the side of the trail. Do not do anything that could spook a horse as it passes you. These trails are very well used and it is very likely that you will pass other people on the trail.
The dirt roads are exposed and will get lots of sun. Sunscreen is a good idea.
The trails are on the east side of the mountain and get dark about an hour before sunset. If you are going to be doing a late evening ride here plan on the trails getting dark earlier than you expect. The trails are under heavy tree cover so they don't get much light to begin with. When the sun starts to go down the light fades quickly.
When parking at the trailheads do not leave valuables in the car.
|Maps:||Overview map of the
trail 327 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.