Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Snoqualmie Valley Trail (2015-03-21)

My first century involving a lot of gravel.

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More after the break…

Part 1: To Rattlesnake Lake

I started at 05:00 like usual. There were some notable winds from the southeast making it a bit difficult.

When I hit downtown, I rode over Capitol Hill, then took the I-90 Trail to and across the floating bridge. When I stopped on Mercer Island, I noticed this sign for the Mercer Island Half Marathon.

From there, I took my normal route through Factoria and up the hill, but then made the left onto the I-90 Trail again to avoid the alternatives.

This eventually took me to an overpass that terminated in a tight spiral.

It took a bit of wayfinding to get to the Sunset Trail.

This trail was all downhill, and involved a tight set of switchbacks.

It ended in the West Lake Sammamish Parkway Trail, shortly before the big roundabout. I took the left there and used the same route I had recently.

Since I was to use the Issaquah–Preston Trail, I used trails rather than roads once I got to Issaquah. This brought me through areas which I had no idea about.

I eventually ended up at the Rainier Trail, only to leave it once I got near I-90.

After climbing up to where the trail splits off from the Highlands Trail, I started going through new territory.

And this is when the rain hit.

The trail seemed fine to start…

…but quickly degraded to mud.

Thankfully, those heavily-treaded tires of mine were able to manage.

I left the trail at High Point Way and went on I-90, which was not my intention. My GPS's display was covered with drops of water and I was pretty stressed out by the downpour.

I doubled back when I got to Preston so I could see the eastern end of the cycletrack.

And the paved bit of the trail itself.

I next hit I-90 again, then left it at North Bend, following North Bend Way to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.

Using the trail, I climbed my way up the hill to Rattlesnake Lake.

I then stopped at the Cedar River Watershed Education Center to dry off before heading back down the hill.

Part 2: Snoqualmie Valley Trail

And under I-90 and along the more level section of the trail I went.

I came across the railroad tracks of the old branch line through the valley, whose right-of-way is now used by the trail.

When I rode through North Bend, I saw a bunch of tents and folks in cycling attire, and they said there was a ride going on. I'm guessing it's this, but I'm not 100% sure.

I eventually rode through the Mt. Si Golf Course, which had a "self-closing gate" that was open.

Eventually I passed a "TRAIL CLOSED" sign on the Reinig Bridge.

The closure was at this fence, which used to be a set of stairs down to the road that someone burned down. Humanity sure is 'great,' eh?

I noticed a number of folks racing along Reinig Road.

After doubling back and getting back to the main road, I took that through the city of Snoqualmie, then rejoined my route. After popping a wheelie up a tight, steep right turn, I turned to the left and chilled out for a second. One of the guys affiliated with the race offered me orange juice or coffee, but I politely declined.

I then climbed my way up to where I was supposed to meet the trail, which wasn't really a rideable entrance, and I almost missed it..

There was a tunnel that led to some sort of trail, but it was just mud.

From there, it was a gradual descent all the way into the valley. I saw a few folks here and there on mountain bikes, some with full suspension.

It was rather nice being so far removed from everything, despite still being within a day's ride to Seattle.

When I got to the Tolt River, I saw the railroad at Remlinger Farms, which I had a faint memory of riding as a child.

Shortly after, I hit Carnation, which meant I was done with my descent.

There's one place where the trail crosses the highway, and it's pretty easy to miss on the highway.

For the last few miles to Duvall, I was right behind a guy on an unloaded cyclocross bike and had little trouble keeping up.

And then I hit Duvall at McCormick Park, climbing the hill to get coffee.

Part 3: Return via Tolt Pipeline Trail

From Duvall, I rode Woodinville–Duvall Road to West Snoqualmie Valley Road, then headed south a bit to the 'secret' entrance to the Tolt Pipeline Trail. The driveway was a rather steep climb, and I had to push my bike.

When I got to the gate, I found it was locked. I had to push my bike through under it, being careful to keep my panniers from scraping.

When I finally got to the rideable part, it wasn't too bad. There were a lot of gates, though, so I wasn't happy about that.

I saw the pipe itself a few times, too.

When I mentioned my plan for this ride to someone, he said to avoid the westernmost extent of this section of trail, so I cut over to the backroads for that instead. I saw some other cyclists on these roads, too, so they're apparently popular.

This route dropped me at the local athletic fields, which abut the trail.

I tried to find a way out through the park, but I had to turn back, go through the parking lot again, and then hit the Sammamish River Trail. From there it was rather uneventful.

Near 102nd Ave NE, I cut over to the Burke-Gilman Trail as is customary due to the poor design of the westernmost section of the Sammamish River Trail

And then I zipped along that trail all the way home.

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