Snoqualmie Valley Trail II
Walking the old railroad grade from Carnation to Snoqualmie Falls
Hike Length: 8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Hike Difficulty: Moderate
Map: King County Bicycling GuideMap
The Snoqualmie Valley Trail, built on the right-of-way of the Everett branch of the Milwaukee Road, offers easy walking through forest and farmland scenery. The gravel-surfaced trail is popular with bikers and horse riders, although you won’t see many on weekdays. The stretch between Carnation and Snoqualmie Falls is perhaps the best part of the trail, as it climbs high above the valley floor and passes vista points, fern-filled ravines with splashing creeks, and three scenic trestle bridges. The south facing slope that the trail traverses catches a lot of sun, making for pleasant walking on a clear winter day. The Tokul Creek Trestle and Snoqualmie Falls provide a dramatic twin finale for this otherwise low-key journey.
Bus access to Carnation has become difficult. This hike is best done as a "bus assisted" version, by driving a car to the end point at Snoqualmie Falls, then riding the SVT bus to Carnation.
Snoqualmie Falls (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
From downtown Seattle, ride the Sound Transit 545 bus to Redmond Transit Center.
At Redmond, catch the Metro 224 minibus. Plan your arrival here carefully, this bus has a sparse schedule! Once aboard, sit back and enjoy the long, scenic ride past the rapidly suburbanizing Redmond highlands to the rural Snoqualmie Valley. The bus takes a roundabout route up the valley to Duvall. Get off at the end of the line at Brown Street.
Transfer to Snoqualmie Valley Transit in Duvall at Brown Street and Richardson. This bus has a sparse schedule so plan accordingly.
Ride the SVT bus to downtown Carnation and start hiking at the well-marked Snoqualmie Valley trailhead located east of downtown on Entwistle street.
No weekend SVT service.
If you disembarked in downtown Carnation, walk Entwistle Street several blocks to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, then start hiking the trail southbound.
Eventually the trail begins a long, barely perceptible climb out of the valley to the top of Snoqualmie Falls seven miles distant. It was an easy grade for the trains that used to run here, and remains easy for tired hikers today. Just a short distance from 11th NE, the trail crosses a long trestle over Griffith Creek, then winds its way past farms and exurban homes before heading into wilder country as it gradually climbs above the Snoqualmie River valley. Occasional openings in the forest provide views out over the valley toward Tiger Mountain; at other points the trail crosses lush ravines with running creeks, some with side trails nearby that invite exploring.
At the four mile point, the trail crosses a high trestle bridge, then reaches a paved road with parking areas for trail users.
Continue past the road to the continuation of the trail, which passes some homes featuring the usual barking dogs before re-entering wilder country. Eventually the trail leaves the Snoqualmie Valley and instead follows the narrower canyon of Tokul Creek. Noise from a rifle range may greet you here; otherwise its a particularly wild and peaceful section.
Six or so miles past 11th NE, the trail reaches the Tokul Trestle, an awesome piece of railroad engineering spanning the deep and narrow Tokul Creek gorge. Peering over the railing down to the rushing water of the creek a hundred feet below is a vertigo-inducing experience. A nearby rifle range does spoil the ambience somewhat.
To complete the hike, cross the Tokul Trestle and continue on the Snoqualmie Valley trail about a mile to the Tokul Road, where the trail officially ends. The old railroad bed crosses beneath the road via a short tunnel. You may then walk Tokul Road to Snoqualmie Falls, but a more fun alternative is to walk the forest trail to the west of the road. Watch for the start of the trail as you approach Tokul Road on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. The trail eventually emerges from the forest at the upper parking lot near the falls area.
If you have time, be sure to check out the waterfall vista point or grab an espresso in the gift shop.
If you don't have a car parked at the falls, you will will have to walk to the town of Snoqualmie and a catch Metro 208 bus there. If you have some time, you can explore the railroad museum in downtown Snoqualmie.
Tokul Creek Trestle Bridge on Snoqualmie Valley Trail
From the town of Snoqualmie, catch the Metro 208 Bus and ride to Issaquah Transit Center. Transfer to Sound Transit 554 to get back to Seattle.