The Iron Horse Trail is what's called a "rail trail," a trail that follows the path of railroad tracks that have since been removed. If you stay on the Iron Horse from Seattle, you'll end up in St. Louis; however, we made a little 20-ish mile round trip as a teambuilding day for the office.
If you start the trail as suggested via the Annette Lake Trail (alternatively, just past the tunnel there's a parking lot right at the trail), be prepared to essentially carry your bike up a mountain for a mile. Quite plainly, it was miserable, and I have the bruises to prove it! It's an often winding path, spotted with tree stumps, roots and slippery rocks. To not leave you feeling completely discouraged, there is a waterfall and the accompanying calming sound of running water, if you can hear it over your cursing and clanging of your bike!
The coolest part of the trail? The tunnel! The tunnel is a 2.3 mile freezing, pitch-black jaunt under a mountain. Within about 20 feet outside either end of it, you can see your breath. It was so cold in there! It was also very dark. We were warned by our experienced co-worker to bring fleece and most importantly, a flashlight and/or headlight. Needless to say, I was the only one who remembered, so my mini-maglite was the only source of illumination we had for the three of us. After we calmed down from this realization, we viewed it as the perfect teambuilding challenge. My boss went first, holding the mini-flashlight. The experienced one of the group volunteered to trail last, luckily leaving me the spot in the middle (whew!).
The first time through felt like the longest 2.3 miles I can remember. We could spy the other end of the tunnel, but the size of the opening never seemed to get any bigger no matter how fast we pedaled. We were randomly doused with water streaming through the ceiling and splashed with the subsequent puddles on the trail. We each ran into the walls once--we laughed, though. And despite a low-battery scare, we made it through successfully both times!
and I re-emerging from
the tunnel for a photo-op.
Most of the trail going east from the tunnel follows the perimeter of "Stump Lake." If you've never driven through Snoqualmie Pass, just see the pictures below and you'll see why this manmade lake has earned this less-than-lovely name.
Feel like taking your own trip now? As a quick guide, here is the the list of things to bring for this or a similar fall biking trip:
· A lunch
· A snack (trail mix, power bar, etc.)
· Water bottle
· Rain jacket
· Rain pants
· Warm hat
· Light weight gloves
· A few layers of light weight clothing that you can add or subtract depending on the weather.
· A flashlight (a headlamp would be better if you have one)
· Camera (optional)
· Daypack to put all this stuff in
As a final note, thanks to my coworker for the pictures and the above pack list!