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Palouse to Cascades Trail - The Tunnel

Snoqualmie Region


Snoqualmie Region -- Snoqualmie Pass
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5.3 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 0 ft.
Highest Point: 1100 ft.


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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

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Washington State has a plethora of amazingly beautiful trails for the avid hiker to tread, but how many take you through an old train tunnel more than two miles long? The Snoqualmie Tunnel is part of the 250-mile Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail (formerly the John Wayne Trail and Iron Horse State Park). Views for most of your trip will be determined by the power of your headlamp, but there will be some sights on the other side. The attraction of this hike is the mysterious, dramatic tunnel itself. However, note that the tunnel is closed November 1st through May 1st, so plan your trip accordingly.

After reaching the parking lot, find the trail opposite the bathrooms. Once on the trail look west and follow the wide gravel path toward a metal gate one tenth of a mile away. This gate blocks the trail but is easy to bypass on foot or on bike.

At a third of a mile you will find the entrance to the tunnel. If it’s a warm day you will feel the cool air funneling out of the tunnel. This cool breeze may just send a shiver down your spine, reminding you of the long dark walk awaiting you. At this point, think about donning a jacket as even on the hottest summer day the tunnel stays cool, even chilly. With the damp air, water periodically dripping from the ceiling and the darkness, you will certainly feel cold without that coat. Some people will even bring gloves and a hat for the walk through. Just before entering the darkness, strap on your headlamp or dig your flashlight out of your pack. You don’t want to be looking for your light source in the dark! Did you check that they work and do you have spare batteries?

Other than a slight curve to the left at the beginning, once you’re in the tunnel your hike is pretty straightforward, literally. You may even be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s prudent to remember that the tunnel is 2.3 miles long, so while the light may seem promising, the end of your hike is still a long ways off. The tunnel is wide and very tall so there’s plenty of room for all, as you go through this fascinating piece of Washington State history. The trail in the tunnel is in great shape with just a few potholes, which you can expect to find where water is dripping from the ceiling.

Once through, you will find a few picnic tables, a pit toilet, a garbage can and some nice views of the neighboring Cascade Mountains along the I-90 corridor. If it’s a clear day try and find the lookout on top of Granite Mountain! After you've located the lookout and eaten a snack, head back into the tunnel for your return trip. This time though, you will not have the light at the end leading you until you reach the bend in the tunnel near the start on the east side.

WTA Pro Tip: Wear reflective clothing. Bicyclists are faster than walkers and can come upon you quickly. Help them out by wearing reflecting clothing or even a blinking light on your back.


Palouse to Cascades Trail - The Tunnel

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.3930, -121.3928 Open map in new window


Snoqualmie Region -- Snoqualmie Pass

Washington State Parks

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Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)

Palouse to Cascades State Park PDF Map:

Buy the Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass No. 207 map

Download a map to plan your hike

Getting There

Head east from Seattle on I-90 and take Exit 54. Turn right at the stop sign at the end of the off-ramp onto the unmarked road. Immediately you will come to another stop sign. Turn left here. This is State Route 906, though it is poorly marked; look for the Iron Horse State Park sign. Proceed 0.5 miles and take a right at the sign for the Iron Horse State Park/Snoqualmie Tunnel. If you cross a bridge, you went too far. In 0.1 miles, go right at the last Iron Horse State Park/Snoqualmie Tunnel sign and you will find the parking lot.

The parking lot is equipped with an automated pay station and bathrooms with running water and pay showers that work with quarters.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass

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Palouse to Cascades Trail - The Tunnel

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