Snoqualmie Tunnel, Iron Horse Trail
This hike or bike ride offers minimal exertion, good exercise, and rich history.
The former railroad tunnel typically is open May 1 through October. Drive to the Iron Horse State Park trailhead near the old Hyak ski area just east of Snoqualmie Pass. Yes, you’ll need a Discover Pass to park there. Walk/ride less than a half-mile to the east portal of the Snoqualmie Tunnel, which stretches 2.3 miles to the west portal, named Rockdale until the Milwaukee Road went bankrupt in 1980. Bring a flashlight or headlamp and a waterproof jacket – the temperature is brisk inside the tunnel year-round, and in places groundwater seeps in and drips from overhead. The inside of the entire tunnel is lined with thick concrete. Every 300 feet, look for refuge chambers built into the north wall – indentations 2 feet deep, where people could stand out of harm’s way as trains passed.
Work on the tunnel began early in 1912, and it opened in January 1915, replacing the 7-year-old, 9.1-mile Milwaukee “high line” that climbed to Laconia (later renamed Snoqualmie Pass) and then down to Hyak. After the tunnel opened, workers built an auto road atop the abandoned high line, today’s eastbound I-90 and State Route 906. If you’re a real history nut, you can walk the former grade of the high line where it departs SR 906 directly below Reggie’s charlift at Summit Central, bisects the Summit East (Hyak) ski runs, and intercepts the Iron Horse Trail near Cold Creek alongside Lake Keechelus.
Pack plenty of water and bring a camera!