Biking out Preston-Snoqualmie Trail for some late season color

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With a break in the rain, I rode my bike out the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail on Friday to enjoy the fall colors.

Unfortunately, I discovered that my timing was a little off. Many of the trees were already bare and their moss-covered limbs exposed for all to see.

A cyclist heads down Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

A cyclist heads down Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

Although the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail is paved, the wet leaves can make for slippery riding, especially on a steep hill that plunges down to the crossing at Fall City-Preston Road. I heard from a passerby that this cyclist (above) who went barreling past me when I took this picture later crashed when he skidded on wet leaves.

A snaky section of rail-trail

A snaky section of rail-trail

This rail-trail follows the abandoned right-of-way of the original Seattle, Lakeshore and Eastern Railway between Preston and within about a mile of Snoqualmie. It’s the same railroad abandonment that later became the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle and part of the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County.

Leaving from the sports complex in Preston, the trail ends at a viewpoint to the backside of Snoqualmie Falls, a scene not often seen by tourists, who usually view it from the vicinity of Salish Lodge. The view of the falls is better when the leaves are off the trees, although it’s still about a half-mile distant from the trail.

The railroad went all the way through Snoqualmie to North Bend. The trestle that crossed Fall City-Preston Road was removed by the Burlington Northern Railway when they abandoned the route, so the trail goes down a hill to cross the road and Raging River before returning to the railroad grade after a series of switchbacks.

Old Sunset Highway bridge over Raging River

Old Sunset Highway bridge over Raging River

To cross the river, the trail uses an old section of the Sunset Highway that became the first cross-state highway in the 1920s. That old moss-covered bridge still looks like it has plenty of years of use in it, as long as the bulk of traffic is two-wheeled.

About 5 miles outside of Preston the trail comes to a closed gate. This is the end of the road, and one of the gaps on trails in the Cascades that the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust would like to close. The property is currently owned by Puget Sound Energy, which runs turbines at Snoqualmie Falls. Just east of PSE, the old railway still exists and is used for tourist trains operated by the Northwest Railway Museum based in the town of Snoqualmie.

An interactive map of the trail is available at

The Preston-Snoqualmie Trail is one of the routes included in Best Bike Rides – Seattle, which I wrote for FalconPress and was released this past summer. The book has 40 road, single-track, and rail-trail rides in the Seattle area that can be completed in about half a day or less. At 11 miles, this is one of the shorter ones.


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