38 - Snoqualmie Pass Bike Loop
and I did our first after work bike trip through the Snoqualmie Tunnel
At 35 miles with about 2000' of elevation gain it is a great loop trip.
We have always done it after work mid week which means daylight is a
the end is two miles along I-90 and we do not wish to ride along a 70
mph highway in the dark. For that reason we aim for a time near the
longest daylight of the year. Over the years I had done the trip four
times and Gary all five. John had been on the last two trips. We missed
the past three years as schedules just did not fit. Gary will be out of
the country for much of June and I was surprised when he suggested it
with just one day's notice. I was free but unfortunately John was not.
It looked to be an almost perfect mid low 70s day. A half a day later
the forecast moved up to an 84 degree day. 2000' of gain mostly on a
gravel railroad grade in mid 80s heat did not sound as good. Especially
when I had not been on my bike in at least a year. I signed on anyways.
I met Gary just off Exit 38 up the hill from North Bend. It was only 81
degrees when we started out at 3:32 pm. My least favorite part of the
trip is the climb from the road up to the railroad grade. Steep and
gravelly. Gary motored right up. I was not feeling that well. At the
top the fun began. 13 miles with about 1300' of gain up to the tunnel.
The grade has a gentle steady grade making for easy biking. The first
half of the grade was mostly in the shade. Much less hot than I
expected. For whatever reason our pace was the slowest of my five
trips. Was it the hot day, getting older, or an earlier than usual
start and my concern about time? Regardless, we took a few photo stops
but mostly kept on the move.
Breaks in the forest provided views across the valley to Mt. Defiance,
Bandera, and Granite Mountains. The snow is melting fast. We stopped at
the Humpback Creek snowshed. Since my last trip there are more picnic
tables and campsites along the grade. They make good spots for short
breaks. There is an informational signboard at Humpback Creek now. As
we neared the tunnel we were mostly out in the sunshine. Warm but not
too bad. Dinner was right at the tunnel. A rider with a tent strapped
on my bike stopped and then headed into the tunnel shortly before us.
The tunnel is 2.25 miles long and get very dark very fast. the east end
turns at the end blocking much of the light ahead. We did not have John
and his super powered bike light. It was a little more challenging with
smaller headlamps. On an earlier trip Gary had a thermometer and we
recorded 49 degrees in the tunnel. We quickly dropped 30 degrees once
in the tunnel. With a jacket it was pleasantly cool.
Fifteen minutes later we popped out at the east portal. Rather than
biking down to the parking lot and then dropping to the main road then
riding back uphill we chose to head right up the hillside. Gary brings
a rope and with one person in front and another behind we quickly moved
the bikes up to the road right at the entrance to Hyak. Now we just had
a few miles up uphill to Snoqualmie Pass. This time not even a single
car passed us coming up. At Traveler's Rest we took another break. At
7:07 we headed down. Quickly we passed under I-90 and onto the old
road. This is the best part of the loop. We zoomed up to 30 mph. There
are several very sharp turns and some more easy ones. In 7 1/2 minutes
we were down to the Denny Creek trailhead parking lot. Neither of us
was aware that a new paved lot has been put in across the road. The
grade eased but we still made very good time. At fifteen minutes from
the pass we reached I-90.
We crossed the highway and turned right on gravel Tinkham Road. There
was new gravel at the east end and it was a little slick. The farther
we went the better the traction. The road has been regraded and there
are very few pot holes. The gentle downhill grade made for more easy
biking. near the end we finally reached the concrete pad where a creek
flows over the road. It is usually dry in June. Not this year. The
splash was high enough to soak my knees. Gary went through before I had
time to get a photos. I joked that he should pedal back through it. To
my surprise he did. I took a photo and a short video of the creek
crossing. A few minutes later we reached pavement. We passed the road
up to the McClellan Butte trailhead and crossed back over the highway.
It was now 8:04 pm. The sun was nearly setting but we had plenty of
daylight left. One more break and we headed down the on ramp. The two
miles of highway riding goes by very fast. It is all downhill. Exit 38
is right at milepost 40. From there the last part is on the old Highway
10. We made it back to our cars at 8:27 pm. We did fine on the ride.
Not having done any rides in some time there was a little discomfort.
Hiking every week keeps me from those aches and pains after a hike.
This trip has a lot to recommend it. A steady uphill grade, the tunnel
ride, and a fun fast descent from Snoqualmie Pass. As usual we saw half
a dozen bikers and a few cars on the road sections. Otherwise there is
a lot of solitude, even on a sunny afternoon. Hopefully we will get in
many more June tunnel bike trips.
Click on thumbnails to get
Shaded RR Grade
Picture On Board
Onto The Road
Heading For The Pass
Guye Peak Ahead
Creek Over Road
Onto The Highway
Back At The Cars