When my wife texted me last Friday that I should take advantage of the sunny fall weather with a Labor Day weekend bike trip, she didn’t have to repeat the offer.
I got to spend a spectacular weekend up on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, a rail-trail that starts at Cedar Falls east of Seattle and rolls all the way to the Idaho border.
Of course, I didn’t go the full length. With a late start on my touring bicycle on Saturday, I was lucky to make it to that first campground at Alice Creek. It’s a 50-mile ride from home.
My original plan was to return on Sunday, but I decided to continue after I saw the overcast breaking up as I headed toward Snoqualmie Pass. This was turning into a “sub 72-hour overnight” bike tour.
Among the first folks I met were these two families that had camped together at the Carter Creek Campground, still about 6 miles from the Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel. They had parked a car at Hyak and were basically rolling downhill to another car at Cedar Falls.
I wish I could have made it to Carter Creek that first night; it would have been fun to camp with them and their dog (in the carrier).
Further uphill I paused at this old snowshed that protected the tracks from avalanches. This stretch is my favorite of the trail, probably because of the awesome scenery coupled with the relic from the bygone railroad days.
I passed through the 2-mile-long Snoqualmie Tunnel, which still sees a lot of bicycle traffic. Here’s one reason, the shuttle that carries bicyclists and their bikes from Cedar Falls to the Hyak trailhead. If you’re interested to using their service, check soon as they close down the operation for the fall and winter seasons. Check BusUp90.
Leaving the crowds behind, I continued along Lake Keechelus. Even though you can see Interstate 90 across the lake, it’s out of earshot much of the time. The water level at the lake is way low in the late summer, enabling me to walk among the old tree stumps left over from when this was a dense forest.
I followed the trail all the way to Lake Easton, where I jumped the interstate and had huge and delicious lunch at the Parkside Cafe. Picking up some supplies for dinner — a box of mac and cheese and can of beef stew — I returned all the way to the Roaring Creek campsites situated next to Keechelus.
These campsites are in the woods, and I picked a tent site that had a view of the lake through the trees. I was happy to discover that it also had a view of the full moon and rising over the lake late in the evening, as well as the morning sun. The temperature had dipped to the low 40s overnight, so as soon as I saw the sun I headed out to the warm sunshine streaming onto the trail.
The ride back was mainly uneventful. I got away before 9, fiddled around talking with folks at each end of the tunnel, and made my way down the trail to the Cedar Falls trailhead where I visited the Watershed Education Center for cold water (the state park trailhead doesn’t have running water).
I made it down to Snoqualmie by 3 p.m. for a late lunch and reached home by dinner, bone tired but completely reinvigorated.