Twin Falls State Park to Snoqualmie Pass
October 5, 2012
The week before this next ride I kept checking the weather forecast which looked great. I was so happy to see that the fall rains and winter mountain snow had not arrived yet. Most of the state has seen nothing but dry weather for the last two months.
Unfortunately the Eastern Washington forest fires still burn. The smoke creates a beautiful red toned sunrise but dulls the views and affects the air quality. I plotted a path that I hoped would help me avoid a large section of Interstate 90. The only part of this plan I wasn’t sure of was that of the National Forest road conditions. If they were too rough or closed I would turn around and stay on I-90 for the entire ride. I researched Twin Falls State Park and was intrigued by the water fall which looked impressive on the Google Earth computer program. I packed my bike and gear the night before and headed out in the car around 6:00 am. The 405 freeway traffic was slow and ugly as expected. Many of my friends and family have been concerned for my safety as I take these bike trips. The real danger is being in a car during rush hour traffic such as this. I successfully swerved and braked to avoid more than a few frantic, distracted, or unskilled motorists. It is truly horrifying to see how many of these drivers text, talk on the telephone, put on makeup, or read while working through this crazy traffic. Once I made it a few miles east on I-90 I felt a bit more relaxed. I pulled into the Twin Falls State Park lot by 8:45. Even though the blue sky promised nice weather a fall chill was in the air. I was dressed for the cooler environment and motivated to start pedaling to get warmer. I worked my way back to I-90 and stayed on it for two miles. I took The SE Homestead Road Exit. This road is south of the freeway. I had the Olallie State Park between myself and the road noise of I-90. The first couple of miles of the road was very rough as the concrete surface was so worn it was like riding on a cobblestone street. I stopped to take a photo of the creek that ran next to the road.
After a few miles I had to jump back on I-90 for four miles. I was not sad when it was time to leave the many semi trucks that barreled past me on the freeway. I entered Tinkham Road which was named for a railroad surveyor who crossed the pass on foot in the winter of 1854. This National Forest road is graveled with many potholes and a washboard surface. I stopped to unlock my front shocks and was very happy to have this mountain bike and not a road bike. I considered taking down my tire pressure from the 85 pounds but elected not to as it was only for six miles more of this surface.
The only vehicle to pass me was a King County Sheriff K9 Deputy. I caught up to the deputy as I crossed under I-90. I stopped and talked to him for a few minutes and found we had a few friends in common. I headed back up the road on the final push to Snoqualmie Pass. Forest Service Road 5800 runs between the East and West bound lanes of the freeway and until now had been undiscovered by me. I found several great photo opportunities along the road. I took a little side trip and explored the Denny Creek Campground. For most of this road I had an evergreen canopy above me which created a very cool feeling. As I entered a clearing I stopped to capture the photo below.
Hop into your time machine and go back to 1917. If you were in the car pictured below, you would be looking at Snoqualmie Pass as seen above. Both photos were taken from virtually the same spot but looking in opposite directions. This road was the original wagon road that was first opened 145 years ago.
As I neared the top I stopped at an old stone wall to take photos of the water below.
These two photos are of the same area of Forest Service Road 5800.
I made it to SnoqualmiePass summit before noon and enjoyed the break. I rode past the Summit at Snoqualmie ski lodge and stopped at the gas station store down the road.
I sat outside on the sidewalk and visited with three hikers that were also taking a break. They started their hike on the Pacific Crest Trail at the Mexico border in April and were headed to Canada. We shared stories for a bit and parted ways to continue our journeys. I enjoyed a snack and water as I sat at a picnic table in the soon to be bustling ski lodge area. I headed back down the hill and again traveled on Forest Service Road 5800. Of course, this time I traveled a bit faster than on the way up. With very few open areas I kept my eyes peeled for any deer or other hazard that may attempt to alter my path. Before I knew it I was back to I-90. If you are traveling over the pass on I-90 and have an extra 30 minutes, I highly recommend taking this detour route. There are many day camp and picnic spots along the way as well as great photo opportunities. I decided to stay on the freeway rather than take the gravel road I had taken earlier. My speed and the fact that the commercial truck traffic was minimal made the freeway travel more enjoyable than it had been in the morning. I made it back to the car at Twin Falls State Park and loaded up the bike and gear. Compared to my treks I had taken recently today’s ride left me with energy to spare. I took advantage of my early return and decided to take a hike to Twin Falls. For the first time today I lost my lightweight jacket and pullover polar fleece. The 1.1 mile hike follows the south fork of the Snoqualmie River. The trail turns a bit steep but then dips back down to the river’s edge. At this point I got my first glimpse of the falls.
I couldn’t help but say, “Oh my God” out loud. With every turn in the trail the view of the falls increased and revealed an incredible sight. I saw that the best view and photo opurtunity was on the other side of the river. I took advantage of the many huge boulders that were now partially exposed above the water. With more than a few hop, skips, balancing on logs, and jumps, I made it to the other side. I took a bit of time to walk near the falls and marvel at its beauty and power.
The truely amazing fact is that as awesome as the falls were now, there is a fraction of the amount of water that would pound over the rocks come spring. This sixty plus foot water fall is a must see if you should ever be in the area. Today’s trek was very rewarding. My Mountain Quest bucket list is getting shorter. If the good weater holds I hope to whittle that list of Washington mountains and passes down to half a dozen. I think I’ll finish out the summer rides with a two day trek and head to Wenatchee for Mission Ridge then ride over Blewett Pass. See you then.
P.S. Please let me know if you experience any trouble viewing the photos. There has been some issue with this recently since WordPress made some changes this program.