Last weekend I hopped on my bike with camping gear in tow and went for a weekend jaunt out to the Snoqualmie Tree Farm. Starting at home in the Rainier Valley, I rode all the way out to the tree farm via the I-90 trail, Preston-Snoqualmie Trail, Snoqualmie Valley Trail, and various back roads. That took about half a day, and then I spent the latter half exploring the network of gated logging roads within the tree farm. On Sunday I did the same in reverse, except on the way back I decided to go around the north end of Lake Washington via the Snoqulamie Valley Trail, Tolt Pipeline Trail, and Burke-Gilman trail. Hauling the trailer over the steep hills of the Tolt Pipeline trail was no treat and I’m not sure that I would do that again. I was sore for several days after this trip.
More about the Snoqualmie Tree Farm: This is the area just west of the North Fork Snoqualmie River Road and drainage; it was owned by Weyerhaeuser for decades, but now is owned by Campbell Resources. The area is gated and generally closed to public access, but a non-motorized day use permit can be purchased for $8. Think of it as a capitalist version of a nature preserve. You won’t find pristine wilderness or rugged peaks in the Snoqualmie Tree Farm and the lakes are rather mediocre, but what is available are some fun roads to explore on a bike and relative solitude on a weekend. Many of these roads were originally logging railroads, so they are sort of rail-trails and nice to bike on. Camping is not officially permitted within the tree farm, but national forest land is available not far to the east.
Another feature is that it is relatively close to Seattle and a mere 33 mile bike ride from Columbia City to the mainline road gate, making it a perfect destination for a car-less weekend jaunt (although I wouldn’t recommend the Tolt Pipeline route).