Saturday, July 10, 2010

Iron Goat Trail - 07.10.10

Hot weather and mixed signals caused me to be sans partner again. Originally I was pretty bummed, but really enjoyed my final choice of destination or, conveyance.

I looked through a mountain bike guide and decided to get some low impact exercise. I decided on the Iron Goat Trail as it is in the south side of the valley and should be fairly shady. It is a rail trail and used to be part of the Milwaukee Railroad. It is also part of the larger John Wayne Pioneer Trail, which stretches most of the way across the main portion of the state to Idaho. I was also excited to ride my bike through the Snoqualmie Tunnel. However, since this was a plan hatched before going to bed the night before, I had no idea the tunnel was closed.

The tunnel

I parked for the trail off Exit 38 of I-90, but could have taken the western terminus near Rattlesnake Lake. This is where I saw the sign in the parking lot stating the tunnel was closed. Mostly it meant I did not have to worry about a headlamp, and it was cutting about five miles round trip off my excursion.

Since it was unclear where to access the trail, I accidentally rode up the pedestrian foot trail before locating the rail trail and heading east. I immediately starting riding by the Exit 38 crags where people were climbing (and blocking the trail.) The route is deceptively flat/uphill. It has to do with the maximum angle a trail can climb, which isn't that steep. The trail looks flat, but I had to constantly grind my way uphill. A much different workout than a steep hill where you can alternate between standing and sitting. My speed was twice as fast, and cadence maybe five times faster. Sections with deeper gravel really took extra effort. I paused at the halfway uphill point to catch my breath a bit. It was also nice not to be sitting, as my mountain bike saddle is not meant for thirty miles of continuous sitting.

I rode along occasionally standing to give my backside a rest while passing hikers and other bikers. I also passed numerous trail heads that I have been to before while hiking or climbing. In a little over an hour, I reached the closed tunnel. A few pics were snapped, I snacked a bit, and then it was time to enjoy the downhill. There is a nice picnic area there that offers views of Snoqualmie Pass peaks.

The Tooth, Denny, Snoqualmie Peaks

While I did not have to continuously pedal for the downhill, it was not steep enough to coast the 14 miles. Of course, to make things more difficult there was a headwind in many locations on the return trip. More wooded areas blocked the wind, but on the trestles, it slowed me down a touch. I was back at the car over two hours after I left.

This was a good ride and fairly mellow if you discount the fact that it is uphill the whole way east. Hopefully the state will find the money to make the tunnels safe so one could ride to Idaho if they wanted. The fourteen mile section I was on had some ample camp sites, although I'd imagine I wouldn't need one until the other side of the pass.

1 comment:

rick said...

This is the Iron Horse Trail.....not the Iron Goat. Bikes not allowed on the Iron Goat which is the old Great Northern railbed that crosses Stevens Pass.