Bikepack - Palouse to Cascades Trail


Bikepack - Palouse to Cascades Trail

Easy ride on the Palouse to Cascade trail for an overnighter in a nice creek-side campground, with a magical twist: a full-moon post-dinner night ride to Hyak via the Snoqualmie tunnel (and hopefully back to camp.)

  • Bikepacking Gravel II
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 45.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,600 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 2,600 ft
  • Pace: 7 mph

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NOTE THAT THE DATE MIGHT SHIFT ONE DAY EARLIER OR LATER IF THE WEATHER FORECAST FOR SATURDAY NIGHT IS TOO IFFY. The main idea is to ride under the full moon, a cloudy sky would take away a lot of the fun. 

Trail chat at 12:45, feet on the pedals at 1PM. Make sure to schedule enough time to pack and load your bike.

Cars can't stay overnight in the Rattlesnake lake parking lot, so the meeting point is a few hundred yards _before_ the entrance to the park, on the left side of the road, on a wide gravel area with plenty space for cars, and direct access to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail to get to the trailhead in 5 mn.

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Mellow ride on the very approachable Palouse to Cascades trail (the trail formerly-known as Iron Horse trail.) We'll be riding on a wide gravel road the whole trip, with pretty forgiving surface, and an easy average grade of 2 to 3%. Three cheers for rail-to-trail conversions!

(Here's the ride report from the inaugural ride!)

This month's ride will be coordinated with the Swift Industry Campout

The plan is to head for the Carter creek campground, set up camp, chillax, have dinner, then go for a postprandial digestive ride at sunset to enjoy a night ride under (I hope) the full moon.

If you haven't ridden much at night, and even more so, at night in the woods, it opens up a wonderfully different world: sounds are different, smells are different, shadows come alive -- a thrilling or meditative journey to experience. A full moon adds a fun facet to the trip: eery extended views are revealed, it's easier to pick out obstacles and find our way, and with a bit of luck, werewolves and witches might come ride along with us.

Just like the terrain, routing is not exactly very challenging: follow the road, turn around, follow the road back. Done.

To Carter creek campground:, about 13 miles one way, ~1000 ft elevation gain
Carter creek to Hyak:, about 8 miles one way, ~600 ft elevation gain

(The RideWithGPS stats for the routes above are quite a bit off. I computed elevation gains from the actual contour map. My actual track reported 1200 ft elevation gain to Carter creek when I scouted the campground, and ~1600 all total from Rattlesnake lake to Hyak, so it's roughly correct. At any rate -- NOT a hyper-strenuous outing.)

Taking into account the distance for the full round trip if you go to Hyak, and the night riding which can be new to some, the trip is rated Medium-Rare (AKA Bikepacking Gravel II per The Mountaineers Clubwide Activity Standards for Bikepacking.) The trip is open to all bikepacking badge holders: recently-minted or former course graduates, the start will feel very familiar.

Make sure to check the Required Equipment tab below for a list of the gear needed -- a bit different for a night ride.

Weather forecast for Hyak

Moon schedule at Snoqualmie pass


Palouse to Cascades Trail

  • Green Trails Rattlesnake Mtn No. 205S

    Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass Gateway No. 207S

    Green Trails Mount Si NRCA No. 206S
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Gravel-ready bike with overnight luggage carrying capacity. Forgiving surface, recommended minimum size of tire is 36ish mm.

Overnight gear (shelter, bedding for cold temperatures, food.) We're camping near a creek, so bring some means to filter water if you'd rather not carry H2O for the whole trip -- there's a restroom with running water at Hyak, so that's another way to get fresh water. Might want to think about mosquito protection too, not sure if the nasty critters will have had time to hatch yet.

Night riding can get chilly, especially on the way down. Make sure you have warm layers appropriate for riding, including a wind-breaker.

11* essentials and Leave No Trace paraphernalia. There is a pit toilet that should be already open in May. I'll try to confirm, but at any rate, please be ready to dig catholes or use WAG bags, always a good practice. Heated bathrooms (and shower :-) at Hyak.

If you plan on taking part in the Moonlight sonata part of the evening (I hope so!), bring good front lights, with enough battery capacity for a 3- to 4-hour ride if you don't have a dyno hub. Make sure the batteries are charged up. A powerful headlamp works well. (If you're going that route, it's a good idea to figure out ahead of time a way to secure it to your helmet so it doesn't slip off: a couple zipties around the strap through the airvents are an easy solution, or duct tape, of course. :-) If you don't currently own reliable lights, let me know, i have a couple powerful lights i'll be happy to share.

*  Chocolate is one of the  essentials that has been criminally left out of the official list. Sheesh.

Trip Reports