The summer was packed with long sunny days, vacation time and endless opportunities. On any given day we could be found along some trail, listening to the sounds of nature, soaking in the warm rays on our skin. We could rise early or start late without worry of the sun going down. When we packed for a trip in the backcountry, our packs were a little lighter, and the heavy jackets left in the closet. But now that autumn has arrived, and days are shorter and cooler, our time outside with a toddler in tow is changing.
So instead of packing our backpacks with all the necessary equipment for an overnight camping trip, we took the bikes down off their hooks in the garage, pulled out the Burley Bee carrier, and loaded the panniers with all things necessary, and a few extras, to head out on a mini bike tour along the Iron Horse trail.
The entire John Wayne Iron Horse trail is 110 miles. It starts in Snoqualmie at Cedar Falls near Rattlesnake Lake and continues east towards Spokane. It is easily accessible and can be picked up at multiple locations along the way.
Our trip started out at Easton state park right off Hwy 90. A perfect spot to park and get everything loaded. The nice thing about a bike trip, is you have a little extra room to bring supplies. We were able to pack a couple extra blankets for the chilly night ahead, a cooler to keep our sandwiches fresh, and I even packed my super comfy fleece pants. Items that otherwise would have stayed home.
The Iron Horse trail is the perfect trail for a family trip. There are several camp grounds along the way, each with multiple campsites. And between each of these you will find rest stops with a clean fully enclosed pit toilet. A must for traveling with kids. I also enjoyed the trail for its historical information. Along the way there are sign boards with loads of information about the trails historical use as a railway, the trains that traveled its lines, and other fascinating facts of days gone by.
Besides the historical information found along the trail, the sights are well worth the ride. Lake Easton is beautiful in the afternoon sun, the autumn colors were vibrant in the changing leaves all along the the dirt path. And my favorite by far was riding by the mostly dry lake bed of Keechelus Lake.
We rode along the Yakima River to Cold Creek Campsite about 17 miles from Lake Easton. We chose to stop here for the night and set up camp. While Daddy set up the tent and got water boiling for hot tea Samuel and I grabbed his balance bike and rode back and forth along the trail to get some wiggles out. We then headed back to camp and shared a hot meal of yummy beef stew.
Before the sun set we decided to take a walk out along the dry lake bed. There is an easy path leading out to an access area right across from camp. We followed the dry stream out onto the mushy grasses. All around us were the stumps left over from the logging that took place in the 1870’s. So as all adventure families do, we used the spring board cuts to climb and stand atop the giant stumps.
After a little further exploration we headed back to camp to warm up with a mug of hot chocolate and climb into our tent for the night. While Daddy hung our food Little Man and I cuddled up in our bags and spread an extra blanket on top. Here is where I will admit that we brought the iPad along. Little Man has been having trouble sleeping lately and in anticipation of what might be a long night we downloaded his favorite show and tucked the device into the carrier. Im actually very thankful we decided to bring it along, because after just 30 min of screen time our Little Man snuggled down and slept.
The next morning we awoke just after the sun. While Samuel played with his trains cozy inside the tent, Scott and I started to get things packed and sipped on our coffee. After enjoying tasty breakfast burritos we finished loading everything up and headed back towards Lake Easton. It was quick trip, but definitely worth the effort. Finding ways to continue to connect with each other and with nature even as the seasons change is just good for the soul.