I was rewarded with a quite a shock recently when I stumbled across the Preston-Snoqualimie bike trail while bicycling in eastern King County.
On bicycle maps, the trail looks like it doesn't go anywhere, ending at a dead end in the forest. But that dead end affords a spectacular view across the Snoqualmie Valley to Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge against the backdrop of Mount Si.
The 5-mile rail-to-trail is part of the old Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad. It was built in 1890 and abandoned in 1974. I encountered as many day hikers as cyclists on this trail.
The trail starts at a parking lot on the left across from a small commercial area near Exit 22 on I-90. I got there by bicycling from Bellevue to Issaquah and following the gravel Issaquah to High Point Trail that runs adjacent to the freeway. (They say you can ride on I-90 here, but I'd rather not.)
The Preston-Snoqualmie Trail is paved and begins by following a ridge above Preston-Falls City Road for a couple of miles.
A train trestle has been removed at the road crossing, so you'll coast down a hill to the road, cross it, then ride behind some jersey barriers on the other ride. Turn left at the first small road, cross a bridge, and follow this street for a short time 'til you head back up the hill.
You might be able to handle these switchbacks on a mountain bike; I walked
by my Lemond up the hill. At the top, the trail levels out again and continues through the forest to a small parking lot at Alice Lake, the former site of a railroad station.
Another 1.8 miles takes you to the overlook. There are even benches (and toilets). Pick a clear day, because this can get fogged in.
When I first arrived, all I noticed was the chain-link fence that crossed the trail marked “No Trespassing.” A couple of boys up there said I should check out the falls. Until I looked, I had no idea they meant Snoqualmie Falls.
The Falls is one of many scenic attractions in Washington. It drops 268 feet and is most awesome in the spring with the snowmelt. You can also see Salish Lodge, built as an inn in 1919, from up here.