A rail-trail that’s popular with bicyclists in eastern King County has been designated as a National Recreation Trail by the Department of Interior and National Park Service.
The 31-mile Snoqualmie Valley Trail honor was announced Thursday, along with that of the Mount Si hiking trail in North Bend and eight other trails nationwide. The trail gets recognition, more access public funds, and trail signs.
The National Recreation Trail designation “recognizes existing trails and trail systems that link communities to recreational opportunities on public lands and in local parks across the nation.”
The Snoqualmie Valley Trail rolls out from Duvall on the banks of the Snoqualmie River to Rattlesnake Lake in Cascade foothills south of North Bend. The hard-packed crushed stone surface makes for easy bicycling. Equestrians and hikers also frequent the trail.
There are currently two gaps on the trail, which follows the abandoned corridor of a Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad spur line between Rattlesnake Lake and Everett. (The old main line is now the Cedar River Trail that runs from Renton to Landsburg and the John Wayne Pioneer Trail that runs from Cedars Fall Trailhead in the Rattlesnake Lake area to the Idaho border.)
The Snoqualmie Mill Gap interrupts the trail on the outskirts of the old town of Snoqualmie. Southbound trail users have to climb up a small grade to Tokul Road SE, follow SE Mill Pond Road between the pond and Snoqualmie River, and climb the steps to the trestle that crosses the river. (See map)
Further north, repairs to riverbank erosion control will block a section of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail between Carnation and Duvall in the vicinity of the Stillwater unit of the Snoqualmie Wildlife Area.
For bicyclists, the trail is a wonderful diversion into rural King County with occasional stops at interesting towns and tourist attractions. It’s also useful as a self-propelled transportation link among several communities on the east side.
Starting in Duvall, the trail heads south through the marshy area along the river that’s a draw for bird-watching. The town of Carnation, named for the contented cows of the former dairy industry in the area, has antique shops and good eats.
The trail heads off into the woods from Carnation, passing by the family attractions of Remlinger Farms before it starts a gradual climb to the Upper Snoqualmie Valley. The trestles are good places to pause for views of the valley, and dirt trails lead to mountain biking haunts.
The trail ends at Tokul Road, which gives cyclists a chance to visit Snoqualmie Falls and old town Snoqualmie. The town sports a brewery, cafes and more shops, as well as the Northwest Railway Museum. You’ll have dozens of train cars and engines on the tracks here, as well as a train station and excursions up the tracks to North Bend.
Passing through Snoqualmie, travelers can climb the steps up to the trestle over the Snoqualmie River to resume their trail riding. Cyclists will enjoy views of Mount Si as they head across the plains in the Three Forks Natural Area and arrive in North Bend.
More places to eat in North Bend, such as Sandy’s Drive In or Twede’s Cafe, home of the Twin Peaks cherry pie.
Leaving town on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, bicyclists will notice the grade rises as they hit the North Fork of the Snoqualmie River near I-90. It’s all uphill for the next 5 miles to Rattlesnake Lake. Here the trail meets the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, which continues uphill for about 18 miles to the Snoqualmie Tunnel.
Check the National Recreation Trail website for more information on other designated trails:
Autauga Creek Canoe Trail
The Tanglefoot Trail
Historic Railroad Trail
Sackets Harbor Battlefield History Trail
Chinqua-Penn Walking Trail
George Poston Park Trail System
OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA, WEST VIRGINIA
Ohio River Water Trail
Mount Si Trail
Snoqualmie Valley Trail
Tribal Heritage Crossing of the WIOUWASH Trail