Via Signpost, a terrific new development from Washington State Parks: a hiker shuttle up Snoqualmie Pass. I’m feeling lazy, so I’ll just quote liberally from Andrew Engelson:
The new “Bus-Up 90 Shuttle” will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and starts at Cedar Falls, which is near Rattlesnake Lake outside North Bend. The shuttle runs to Hyak, east of Snoqualmie Pass. The ride will be air-conditioned and the shuttle has room for backpacking gear, plus a trailer to provide transport for bikes. The shuttle is primarily intended for folks intending to hike or bike down the John Wayne Trail, a 20.5-mile gravel path that follows the old Milwaukee Railroad.
The shuttle will also provide return service and apparently can make stops at trailheads along the western I-90 corridor if you pre-arrange it. There will be three departures daily from Cedar Falls and Hyak.
Schedule and directions are here.
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Rock on. This type of shuttle is long overdue. There are a huge number of hikers traveling up I-90 every weekend (one of the greatest things about living in Seattle is the extreme proximity to wilderness trails). I’d love to see this shuttle expanded and extended. In a perfect world it would run from Seattle to Bellevue and to the major trailheads; and it should run year-round for skiers and snowshoers too.
So, great news for hikers in the central Puget Sound region. But what about other places in the Northwest? In past discussions of guilt-free hiking, readers have had a bunch of good tips for low-carbon trailhead access in British Columbia, Oregon, New York state, and beyond. Does Bellingham have transit access along Chuckanut Drive? Can Portland hikers bus it out the Columbia Gorge? Let us know what you know!
In the meantime, your moment of zen comes from commenter Michael Newton; it’s hoisted from a previous post:
Vancouver’s north shore has loads of hiking that’s accessible by transit. We’ve got the advantage of having nothing but wilderness north of the city; if you skirt by Whistler, you could probably head north all the way to the Arctic Ocean without hitting another town! Cypress and Seymour Provincial parks, Lynn Canyon and Lynn Headwaters regional parks, not to mention numerous smaller parks and of course, the Grouse Grind.
Photo is the Pacific Crest Trail’s Kendall Katwalk, one of the dayhiking destinations served by the new shuttle.
Update 7/17: I hope I didn’t over-sell the virtues of this shuttle. As several commenters have pointed out, it’s kind of expensive, and it has a fairly limited route and schedule. It’s great for using the Iron Horse Trail (which is awesome, by the way), but maybe not yet perfected for hiking uses. Still, it strikes me as a big step in the right direction. I’d love to see more like this.
I’ve always thought it was really strange that getting away from (sub)urban noise, traffic, and smog typically requires a polluting car trip. For instance, just for kicks I looked into car-free ways of going skiing last winter; after all, skiing typically requires high visitor densities to support its own fixed-guideway transit (lifts), all located in somewhat tricky areas which make for unsafe driving and inconvenient parking. Well, in all of North America—with about 80 million skier visits annually—I could find only three cities that offered even city bus service to ski slopes: Boulder-Denver, Vancouver, and Salt Lake City. In countless other places, train service once existed but has either been abandoned or cut back to the point where it doesn’t make sense.I’m lucky to live in Chicago, where I can still take an inter-urban train to get to some cute beach towns or even some campgrounds at the urban fringe. (Not much hiking, though.) Once upon a time, though, this was normal: Atlantic City, Asheville, Miami, Santa Monica—plenty of resort towns grew up as weekend railroad escapes from the big city. Easy access to the countryside makes city life all the more appealing, while further undermining the rationale of suburbia’s inferior town+country compromise.
For a long list of Puget Sound hikes and the bus-routes to get there goto:http://www.eskimo.com/~pinyon/bushike/
And the fares? They say “Cash fares for the shuttle are $20 for adults; $15 for seniors (65 +,) youth (age 6 to 15,) and active military” Pretty steep for all but those with money to spend! I wish they had public bus service like in Europe that takes you everywhere and the fares are based on the set pro kilometer public bus rates. Would be nice to hop a ‘metro’ in North Bend and ride to the pass and points between for $1.75 or whatever the bus costs now.
Matt the Engineer
My guess is the fares will be high until there’s high ridership. They do have to have a driver lugging you up and down the hill.When I was young and lived near San Francisco, I’d take a ski bus at 4am the 4 hours to Tahoe, ski all day, and load back on the bus to go home. They’d take us to different slopes each week, and my parents didn’t have to worry about driving me up there. It seems like such a service would be a no-brainer here, where the price of lift tickets would dwarf the cost of the short bus ride.
Matt the Engineer
Hey look, the ski bus does exist here. $20/person.
Eric de Place
Sorry about the html problem, Matt. It’s our bad. We’ll get it sorted out soon.
This is kind of disappointing. $20 for 22 miles, and not many people go hiking by themselves. Also, you have to catch the last trip down at 3:45.Sounds good for the bikers, but I’m not going to use it even though I want to take a bus up there…I guess if you don’t have a car and don’t have friends with a car…King County used to have a bus up to the pass. I’ve always wished they’d bring it back.
It is disappointing in its current form, but it’s not useless, and hopefully it will be the start of something. I would love to see an hourly bus up there, especially during ski season, but if it runs mostly empty it’s not saving any fuel, so I can understand the desire to build this up slowly.@Matt: are you sure that ski bus is current? The page footer has 2004 as the copyright date, and the “reservations” link was dead. I hope it does run next season, because I’d certainly use it even with the brutally early start it dictates.
Matt the Engineer
[Eldan] No! It’s not current. I just called them and they haven’t provided the service in years. He pointed me to another company that he thought runs busses up, but they don’t have service either.It’s really too bad. I’m sure a good reliable service would remove hundreds of 2nd vehicles (usually 4wd SUVs) from Seattle that people use mainly to get up to the slopes and trails.
What a shame! A couple of years back, there was a privately run “snowbus” to Snoqualmie Pass every other Thursday, but it was run by a group of friends who just sold tickets to fill the empty seats, so as with all such things it didn’t last forever. I did hear something about Gray Line doing Thursday busses to ski areas this past ski season, but it involved meeting in Seattle at 3, and I had just started a new job so it felt too early to be asking to take regular half days off….I think there’s a bootstrapping problem here, and the hiker shuttle reflects this too. A bus that ran once an hour, didn’t require advance reservations for a specific departure time, and didn’t cost more than driving alone, could over time persuade a lot of people to leave their cars behind. But the week it started, and probably for its first few seasons of operation, it would run too empty to break even, either in $ or fuel consumption terms, because right now most skiers have cars and are used to driving themselves. I wish I knew how to fix this – the best thing I can think of is to use current options as much as possible in the hope that high demand leads to service improvements.
There is a bus to Crystal Mountain for skiing in the winter. http://skicrystal.com/1599.html yes, expensive (though it discounts your lift ticket if you’re not a pass holder) and it’s fast.