You are here: Home Find a Hike Hiking Guide Iron Horse Trail: The Tunnel

Iron Horse Trail: The Tunnel

» REI » Amazon

A portion of all book sales from the links above benefits WTA and helps protect and maintain our trails.

Here's a trivia question to toss out during your next trail party: The Iron Horse Trail and Washington's other cross-state trail, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), intersect but never touch. Why not? Answer: Because the Iron Horse Trail runs through the 2.3-mile-long Snoqualmie Tunnel while the PCT rolls up and over the peaks south of Snoqualmie Pass. When you head out to explore this dark Iron Horse section, be sure you bring a flashlight--and a headlamp. In fact, make sure every person in your party has a primary light and a backup--this is not a hike you want to do without light. The tunnel is long enough that you'll be in deep, total darkness much of the way. And it's easy to get turned around inside. I've seen savvy hikers bouncing like pinballs inside the tunnel because they couldn't get themselves headed straight down the tunnel after losing their light.

Find the trail on the south side of the parking area, and turn west to hike along the open railroad trail until you reach the eastern portal to the tunnel. Stop and recheck your flashlight batteries before diving into the darkness.

You might also want to pull on your sweater before you go in so you don't have to fumble in the darkness. It can be 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside on a bright, sunny day, but underground the temperature drops into the 50s. The dampness makes it feel even colder.

Also, note that the tunnel is gated November 1 through May 1 for safety reasons. Giant icicles form in the tunnel during the cold winter months, creating massive spears that could threaten the unwary.
Driving Directions:

From Seattle drive east on I-90 to exit 54. Turn east (left) on State Route 906, and in 0.5 mile turn right on Keechelus Lake Boat Launch Road. In about 200 feet turn right to access the trailhead parking area.

Improve or add to this guidebook entry

Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

Hiked here recently? Submit a trip report!
There are 20 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Iron Horse Trail: The Tunnel — Apr 08, 2014 — chrisburke
Day hike
Expand report text Hide report text
This is a good time to hike in Lake Easton State Park. There is still a little snow, but it is flat...
This is a good time to hike in Lake Easton State Park. There is still a little snow, but it is flat and crusty and easily walked on. There is not enough snow for skiers but too much for mountain bikes.

My plan was to walk all the way around Lake Easton, using the Iron Horse trail and a few roads, but to my surprise there was a locked gate on the Iron Horse bridge over the Yakima River. Why was this gate locked? This is a trail in a state park. I can't see any reason why this gate should be locked. Ironically I had just paid $30 for my Discover Pass, only to discover I couldn't do the hike I planned in a state park.

Oh well. I walked to another bridge crossing on the Iron Horse trail, at Frozen Toe Point (also with a locked gate), then walked back to Lake Easton State Park, and walked on the trails inside the park, for a total of 7-some miles of walking. Don't let the piles of snow on the sides of the road fool you--there is virtually none under the trees.
Read full report with photos
Iron Horse Trail: The Tunnel — Oct 31, 2013 — Yasobara
Day hike
Expand report text Hide report text
My wife and I went on a spookiest hiking ever - Snoqualmie Tunnel. We parked our car at Hyak parking...
My wife and I went on a spookiest hiking ever - Snoqualmie Tunnel. We parked our car at Hyak parking lot. We are the only one at the parking lot. The toilets there are the best and the cleanest. The tunnel is completely dark and GPS and cell phones don't work. My wife didn't like it because it was too creepy. The only clue for your progress is the number 0 through 41 spray-painted in green on the wall. The sound of dripping water from the ceiling added more creepiness. We started walking at 10:30 and reached the other end at 11:20. We quickly turned around and returned to our car by 12:20. We didn't see anyone else while we were walking in the tunnel. Today is the last day to hike this tunnel because it is closed from Nov. 1 until May 1. We had lunch in our car because it was raining and cold. This was our weirdest and spookiest experience ever. It may be a nice cool hike during hot summer days.
Read full report with photos
Iron Horse Trail: The Tunnel — Oct 26, 2013 — HikerFromSnoqualmieRidge
Day hike
Expand report text Hide report text
Since tunnel closure is around the corner wanted to check out the Snoqualmie Tunnel before it is clo...
Since tunnel closure is around the corner wanted to check out the Snoqualmie Tunnel before it is closed. Tunnel is typically closed between November 1st and May 1st. This is quite a long tunnel; even at a brisk pace took me 45 minutes. On the way from East end to West end, I was the only one in the tunnel. Ran into a few bikers on the return trip. You can clearly see the ends of tunnel as faint lights all the way through. Tunnel has creepy elements like dripping water, dampness etc throughout. Being October it was pretty chilly in the tunnel.

If you are biking or hiking with younger children please note that the trail is a bit rugged. Families/Groups with two cars can hike the tunnel one way by parking one car at the Hyak trail head and the other car at the Annette Lake trail head. This way you don’t have to make the round trip through the tunnel and the distances are pretty comparable.
Read full report with photos
Iron Horse Trail: The Tunnel — Oct 26, 2013 — EandM
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Expand report text Hide report text
I hiked a short section of the Iron Horse from Asahel Curtis and into the tunnel, because this was t...
I hiked a short section of the Iron Horse from Asahel Curtis and into the tunnel, because this was the first sunny place I could find driving east from Seattle. It was remarkably scenic (until the fog came back), accessible and short (2.5 hr round trip). All the trails are in excellent condition. Modest bike traffic on the Iron horse, but nothing bad.
Read full report with photos
Iron Horse Trail: The Tunnel — Aug 22, 2013 — swick
Day hike
Expand report text Hide report text
Trail closed for construction weekdays until Aug 30th per Wa State Parks. Open weekends and apparent...
Trail closed for construction weekdays until Aug 30th per Wa State Parks. Open weekends and apparently evenings although we were advised the dump trucks could still be coming through (work is being done on the trail approx 2 miles west of tunnel).
Read full report
Iron HorseSnoqualmieTunnel_Entrance-Vert Bauer sm.jpg
Entrance to the Snoqualmie Tunnel, Iron Horse State Park. Photo by Alan Bauer.
Location
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Washington State Parks
Statistics
Roundtrip 6.0 miles
Highest Point 1100 ft
User info
Good for kids
May encounter mountains bikes
Discover Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass No. 207

Improve or add to this guidebook entry

Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Map it
Red MarkerIron Horse Trail: The Tunnel
47.3930166667 -121.3928
(47.3930, -121.3928) Open in new window
Document Actions
  • Print this
  • Share
Get the Guidebooks

Mountaineers three booksSelect content from The Mountaineers Books' guidebooks is featured in this Hiking Guide. Sales of the books from this website help protect and maintain trails.

> Shop Now

More hikes » Hike of the Week
Diablo Lake Trail (Apr 17)

Diablo Lake

North Cascades

Follow the Diablo Lake Trail up and across talus slopes on the flanks of Sourdough Mountain to impressive cascading waterfalls and stunning views. This hike in the North Cascades Institute's backyard makes a great option for an early season hike in stunning North Cascades National Park, much of which is inaccessible during the winter and spring.

Get Trail News

Subscribe to our free email newsletter for hiking news, events, gear reviews and more.

What's Happening
Trails and Ales - Spokane 2014 Apr 22, 2014 Meet fellow hikers and raise a glass for trails!
GiveBIG 2014 May 06, 2014 Donate to WTA during The Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG event and grow your impact on trails!
Hiker Potluck in Vancouver May 28, 2014 Come out for an evening of great food, meet other hikers and learn what is happening on trails near you.
More »