John Wayne Pioneer Trail Day 1 Rattlesnake Lake to Cle Elum 10-18-15


Welcome to my first blog post, ever!   In this series of posts I’ve tried to catalog as much info about the John Wayne Pioneer Trail across the state, our route details and my gear.  I hope you enjoy it! 

Day one started out with an early morning rainy commute from Leavenworth to Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend,WA.


We drove up to Leavenworth and stayed with my friend Chris Saturday with the idea that he was our ride from the border and we’d have a car that we could drive home from there on Friday evening.  Chris followed along with us for a few days here and there and shot some video footage with his camera and his drone in hopes that we could all use the cuts for specific purposes including telling a story of using the trail for Rails To Trails efforts to help save the trail, footage of our bike packing setup and just a general small film about our ride.   Chris would later be renamed our “Guardian Angel” by Randy.  We can’t thank him enough for being along on the trip and his awesome infectious attitude and hospitality.

Pondering the crazy week ahead of us

Pondering the crazy week ahead of us

We arrived at our start around 9am.  Packed up our bikes and were on the trail around 10am.  It had cleared up just enough for us to get packed and get going.  It was perfect and a great way to start the ride, dry!  Chris needed to be there to film our departure anyway so it was super convenient.

20151018_093653E 20151018_093620D
Our first goal for the day was getting to the Snoqualmie Tunnel 18 miles up the pass, a 2.3 mile long tunnel under the Snoqualmie Pass Ski Area.

So many places were 18 miles from the next haha

This tunnel closes on Nov 1st each year so we were one of last few to ride through it for the year.  It’s a beautiful ride with amazing views of the mountains when it’s clear.  We were socked in with fog so we just put one foot in front of the other.  Along the way, Chris was able to get an incredible drone shot of us riding over one of the large train trestles.  The tunnel has been cleaned up quite a bit since I was there last.  It was closed for almost two years undergoing renovations to make it safer and it showed.  It was very smooth and dry.  Halfway through the tunnel you can turn off your lights and just see a tiny dot on either end of you which is super cool.


Ah, time for that first break to rest!

20151018_104203H 20151018_105045I 20151018_105053J


The west side has many high and long trestles still in place. Very fun to ride over!


Quite ghostly…but cool!


Chris getting some very cool drone shots!


He came very prepared!


Entering the tunnel


Avalanche shed right on the trail


After exiting the tunnel, we noticed, and hear from Chris, that it had been dumping rain.  This was the start of a long wet and cold ride to Cle Elum.  We passed Lake Keechelus and passed through Lake Easton.  Along the way there are a couple of cool tunnels that offered us some shelter to check our gadgets and grab snacks.


Lake Keechelus looking pretty dry

20151018_152926S 20151018_152943T 20151018_153101U

Lake Easton is another 18 miles from the tunnel and offers camping/food/water.  From there we rode to Cle Elum where along the way we received a text from a friend Glenn and his wife Emily asking if we needed a warm drink!  Hard to turn that down!  They own and operate Northwest Bicycle Improvement Co out of Roslyn and they are good peeps.  They met us off of Bull Frog road and brought coffee with creamer and banana bread and Chris had grabbed us some McDonald’s too lol.

Enjoying some coffee from Gleen and Emily!

Enjoying some coffee from Gleen and Emily!

We finished up the day riding to the train depot site in Cle Elum where we had some beers to celebrate our first day at Smokey’s BBQ right on the trail. Full menu there it seemed.  There is a pretty cool rail museum/history room there to check out as well.

From there we were shuttled into Ellensburg where we stayed with our friends Meg and Steve.  They offered up their floor so we couldn’t resist.   Thanks Meg and Steve for your hospitality,food and good talk.  We were all in bed by 9pm that night…snoring away on the floor.

Day 1 Totals:

  • Rattlesnake Lake to Snoqualmie Tunnel   =18 miles
  • Snoqualmie Tunnel to Easton                      =19 miles
  • Easton to Cle Elum                                          =17 miles
  • Day total: 54 miles and 7.5hrs ride time including breaks
  • (10am-5:30pm)

Follow along on the rest of the trip:

Read about Day 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 here


14 thoughts on “John Wayne Pioneer Trail Day 1 Rattlesnake Lake to Cle Elum 10-18-15

  1. Myk

    Great post! I’m planning to do the full route this year as well. I’m curious what your nutrition and water regimen was. Did you eat at gas stations or bring freeze dried food. Thanks in advance


    • There was never a stretch where we didn’t get to resupply with food and water at least once a day. Mornings we ate dehydrated breakfast stuff and grabbed lunch in some of the towns along the way like Easton, Vantage, Othello, Warden, Lind, Rosalia etc. Water could be an issue if it’s super hot when you are crossing from Lind to Rosalia but you can get water only in Ralston and Ewan up by Rock Lake. Some VERY nice folks along the way that would let you fill bottles from a garden hose I’m sure (We met a few for sure). I’d plan on having at least 6 liters with you for the longer stretches.
      Our nutrition was aweful lol. Mostly because we were so hungry by the time we got to anywhere that would accept money for food that we just ate whatever….even hotdogs out of the glass box in gas stations haha. We both carried enough freeze dried food for like a week and I think I ate ONE of my meals. It really is going to come down to what you want. But just know that in Ellensburg, Othello and Lind you will be able to easily resupply with real food for 2 full days each time of fresh food…and they are good stops about 2 days apart or so.


  2. They are necessary for me. I just can’t do the bivy/tarp thing. I’ve been in too many nasty situations where a bivy would be a ROUGH go. I like to be able to sit up out of the weather, change clothes, block wind and keep the boogie man out and just generally get good sleep 😉 In the warmer months you could get away without though. We went in October and nights were cold and long.
    But if you’re referring to staying in lodging along the way I bet you could do that in a few spots like Ellensburg, Othello, Ritzville but you’d have to have shelter the other few days.


  3. Myk

    Was more just thinking of doing the route in warmer months and just sleeping in the open in a bag on a pad and not have to carry a tent, poles, or stakes, especially if there is condensation that develops on the tent + fly, having to pack up a wet kit and then set it up again that night still wet.


    • It’s boiling hot on the eastern half of the route in summer. When are you planning on doing it? How many days are you planning? Do you have a plan for crossing the Columbia in mind? We were able to get the fly to dry out by the time we were done with breakfast. My tent is only a lb heavier if you consider the weight against a good bivy and tarp.


  4. Myk

    I’d like to complete the route in a maximum of 6 days.
    I have crossed the Columbia on two separate occasions by bike already. The first time I simply rode the “shoulder” (it was about 4a.m) and the second I just asked a guy with a pick up at the Texaco in vantage for a lift across.
    I’m hoping to do the route at the end of august or early September, I work at a bike shop so gotta wait for the season to turn down.
    I’m still on the fence about a tent, I’ve got an ultra light single pole design from Nemo and it’s great, small and light but I’m just thinking about ways to save space to bring more food, the gas station diet is not super appealing to me.


  5. Myk

    Hey again, I had another question for you if you don’t mind.
    Do you have a suggestion for how to get from the end of the trail in Tekoa to Spokane to catch the train back to Seattle?
    I’m having trouble finding anyone available to pick me up at the end lol. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You know I don’t really have any specifics. But I’d try to exhaust a few resources first. Are you on Facebook? If so, check out these pages. They are full of folks who know about this route and there are many sweet people on there who might shuttle you from Tekoa up to Spokane. *(When we did it we had some friends there to meet us thankfully). The other option may be to extend your ride maybe?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.