Trip Report    

Bikepack - Palouse to Cascades Trail

A sub 24-hour overnight, off-pavement Bikepacking tour of the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail from Cedar Falls Trailhead to the Cold Creek Campground on Keechelus Lake.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The trail surface was in great condition for our entire route. It was a smooth ride on our gravel and mountain bikes. The tunnel surface was smooth, with some easily avoidable small holes in the tread surface, and areas where drips from the roof of the tunnel would form small shallow puddles that were likewise straightforward to avoid.

This Wednesday, with the wonderful assistance of my co-leader, Emma Agosta, I led a small group of 5  Mountaineers (including me) on a sub-24 hour (S24O) bikepack of the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail from the Cedar Falls Trailhead to the Cold Creek Campsite on Keechelus lake. The route covered 46 miles with over 2600 feet of elevation gain over 2 days with dry weather. The trail surface was in great condition, and made for a smooth ride on our gravel and mountain bikes. We rode out of the Cedar Falls Trailhead around 4:45 PM. 

The western side of Snoqualmie Pass was overcast on the first day, with cloud cover extending down to just above the summit of Snoqualmie Mountain. The views remained clear, and the ride over the tressels at Change Creek, Hall Creek, Mine Creek, and Hansen Creek offered a novel experience with stunning views that never disappoint. As we entered the 2.3 mile long Snoqualmie Tunnel, we encountered a fog inside that extended from the west entrance nearly the full length of the tunnel, clearing just prior to the Hyak exit. This obscured the tunnel's east exit, which usually appears as a small point of light in the far horizon. 

Once out of the tunnel and at Hyak, the skies began to clear and the weather progressively improved as the day turned to evening. We pedaled on to Cold Creek Campsite, where we had just enough time to set up camp, eat and turn in for the evening. Of note, there were two other bikepackers camped at Cold Creek, leaving two platforms on which we one could pitch tents. We doubled up on the two large platforms, with one party member pitching at one of the backcountry sites. Camping is $12 per site at this campground. The weather was clear and warm, with the middle of the night punctuated by faint flashes of lightning from distant thunderstorms.

We awoke to clear skies, and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while watching the sun rise over the mountains and reflect on Keechelus Lake and through the Cold Creek tunnel. The return trip was a scenic downhill coast back to the Cedar Falls Trailhead, returning by 10:30 AM (return trip riding time, approximately 2.5 hours with stops at Hyak, after the tunnel for bike maintenance, and the climbing crags for a bio break). I’m impressed with this group and excited to play a part in building a community of bikepackers within the Mountaineers.

Full pictures from the trip can be viewed here.