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 Railroad Trail.

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.

Getting There:
Directions to East Tiger Mountain: The trailhead is on Highway 18 just 15 minutes from Snoqualmie and North Bend. From Snoqualmie get on I-90 and head west to Exit 25 (Highway 18 and the Snoqualmie Parkway). Head south on Highway 18 for 4.5 miles. The trailhead parking area will be on the right just after highway passes over the summit (there will be a small road sign giving the elevation of the summit). Stay in the right-hand lane as you drive over the summit (stay out of the uphill passing lane) otherwise you may miss the right turn into the trailhead parking lot.

Driving directions and map

   
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.