the milwaukee road
From Ellensburg, WA to North Bend and Points West
Ellensburg to Seattle, July 2011
I'd been wanting to ride the old Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad grade across the Cascades for years, but the closure of the long tunnel at Snoqualmie Pass made it impractical.
At a ferry on the way back to Seattle from a vintage motorcycle trip around the Olympics, I picked up a copy of the Seattle Times. Bingo! The tunnel was fixed and open for non-motorized travel.
Instead of starting at the west end of the line, I took a relaxed scenic route via the Old Columbia River Highway and picked up the Milwaukee Road grade at Ellensburg WA, a few miles west of the Columbia River.
Following is some useful dope on the route - tunnel closures and detours - supply points - some railroading history - and the other links in the rail-trail route across the Cascades and right into Seattle. It's a mighty fine ride, easy grades through pretty country, 99% free of motor noise and fumes.
I've broken it into short sections for ease of bookmarking.
1. Ellensburg to Cle Elum, including the Thorp tunnel detours
2. Cle Elum, with a side trip to Roslyn on the old coal train grade
3. Easton and another tunnel detour, then on to Hyak
4. Snoqualmie Tunnel to North Bend
5. The Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie
6. Snoqualmie to Issaquah - the hard way or the easy way
7. Issaquah, Redmond, and Seattle