In an effort to reclaim part of our identity after three moves in two years we decided to tackle our first family hike in so many months. We actually intended to hike the lovely alpine trail leading to the west entrance to the Snoqualmie Tunnel but (ahem) couldn't remember where the trail head started. We could find the 15 mile hike trail head, but not the much shorter one we had used when the kids were toddlers. A quick google later and we settled for the east entrance.
Upon arrival at the opening to the tunnel, my husband and I locked eyes and with some carefully concealed hand gestures, silently agreed not to let the kids know what they were in for.
There may or may not have been some suppressed smirks or fake innocent expressions involved.
The Snoqualmie Tunnel is part of the Iron Horse State Park's 110 mile trail that makes use of an old rail line. The tunnel was built in 1914 (has been shored up and reopened in 2009) and is 2.3 miles long, very much inside and under a mountain. It is dark. And cold. And a little damp in places. It's also really cool.
We headed in, telling our kids, "Don't worry, it's not too far.". Which was a total lie, but whatever.
They both had flashlights and honestly had a pretty good time turning them off and trying to spook each other. We weren't alone. About every five minutes a group of people on bikes would overtake us which took down the creepy factor quite a bit. Almost immediately we could see, "the light at the end of the tunnel". We all watched it grow incrementally from a pinprick until finally it started getting bigger quite quickly.
If you are the sentimental type, which I totally happen to be, coming out of a 2.3 mile long black dark tunnel might take your breath away. Especially if your daughter happens to be walking in front of you. It's really quite stunning. And not just because it's so bright that you can't see. ❈
It all changes so quickly at the end. I almost wanted to walk slower...
And just like that, we were outside again. The kids were so excited. And then they realized... there was only one way to get back. Ha!
We played around for a bit. Had a snack. Let our eyes adjust.
Climbed down to check out the little waterfall...
Climbed up to the top...
Let the kids be kids.
Eventually it was time to head back. Off we marched...
There was a lot more light coming in from this end and we could see without flashlights for a very long time.
Soon enough we were in the pitch dark again, headed toward the light at the end of the tunnel.
And again, coming out into the light was just so striking... totally worth it.
Once outside we owned up to the distance. The kids admitted that it was a totally cool experience. They didn't want to do it again anytime soon, but felt pretty accomplished to have done it.
We've hiked up to the tunnel a few times, and even ventured in a short way. So excited that I can put a big check mark next to this one on the bucket list now that we have walked all the way through it and back. ❈
If you go -
Dress warm, it's cold
Bring a flashlight with fresh batteries
If you choose to turn your flashlight off, listen for approaching bikes, they'll be traveling fast and won't see you.
Bring a snack
Bring a good sense of humor
Note - Closed November 1st through early May due to ice and snow.