Snoqualmie Valley Trail

Picture of a distant farmhouse among trees.

Encouraged by our trip along the Cedar River, we loaded the bikes on the car again and headed for Duvall, near the northern end of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, another railbed re-purposed for pedestrians, horses and cyclists.

The convenient starting point is, fittingly, at the well-appointed Depot Park.  The Milwaukee Road built the facilities — and in fact moved the former town of Cherry Valley here — in the early 1900s.  The valley had been the home of the Snoqualmie people until the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855.  Homesteading began after the Civil War, and Francis and James Duvall arrived in 1871. I believe that locals stress the first syllable when saying the name.

There’s a half-mile of trail north of here, but we rode only south, upriver, with the winding Snoqualmie River and numerous oxbow lakes on our right. Much further upstream, the river’s three main forks provide routes into the mountains, but down here the scene is farm and dairy land.

In fact, the next town is Carnation, named (then un-named and named again) for the evaporated-milk company, once a big presence. The original name of the town was Tolt and I assumed it was Germanic, but in fact it’s the Anglicized version of the Lushootseed name for the river that joins there. Carnation is also the site of several nice big parks, and on our return trip we pedaled into town and ate lunch at the amiable Blake’s Pizza. I don’t think we ever saw those famous dairy cows, but the trail is popular with horses as well as cyclists. We turned around just here after this bridge, a bit short of Fall City, giving the day a total of 27.4 miles.

The seminal book on cycling in Washington, Bicycling the Backroads Around Puget Sound, by Erin and Bill Woods, first published in 1972, focuses on this part of King County (Bill and Erin had built their home out here east of Redmond).  Alex and I did the rides from Duvall to Carnation, and from Fall City to Carnation, and up the Tolt River, back when we were first riding together, back before the railroad turned to gravel trail, back when parts of the trip were still on Highway 203.

The trail offers a less urban experience, and in fact it got woodsier the further south we rode.  In some spots trailside exhibits provided information about wildlife and plants. Speaking of flora, there were salmonberries too, the third and possibly least noticed of the local brambles. These may ripen to a scarlet color, or maybe just stop at golden, but in any case their flavor never amounts to much. In fact, the plant’s leaves, shoots and branches are as likely to be used as the berries are. They do have showy pink flowers in the Spring though.

This trail’s rustic nature seemed to make it dustier than the last one too. Our bicycles were not allowed back in the house, or even off the carrier, before making a trip to the car wash.