photos · Trip Reports

Walking To Ragnar

Kirk, Ford and I spent our morning on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail from its start at Iron Horse State Park (Cedar Falls) to the stop of Ragnar.

(The John Wayne Pioneer Trail follows the former roadbed of the Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad two-thirds of the way across Washington, from the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains to the border with Idaho. The 100-mile portion from Cedar Falls (near North Bend) to the Columbia River near Vantage is managed as Iron Horse State Park. It is open to hikers, bikers, equestrians and horse-drawn wagons in summer, and to snowmobiles, dog sleds and cross-country skiers in winter.

Historical Background:
The western section of the Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad was constructed between 1908 and 1912 and operated until 1980 when the railroad declared bankruptcy. The trail elevation starts at around 1,000 ft and goes to 3100′ then to around 500 ft at the Columbia River, not in excess of a 2% grade. It features thirty substantial trestles, 4 tunnels (one of which is 2.3 miles long) and two snow sheds.

Vine Maples covered in moss:

If one looks carefully enough they can see plenty of old railroad left behind, particularly rail ties and even a few of the metal rails.

Kirk and Ford ahead of me.

Ragnar, a moldering gravel pit and dump of rail ties. The air reeks of creosote when you walk into it. A vast dump of shiny dark black timbers for the ages……

It is always a good walk on the JWH Trail. Easy on the legs, the miles go quickly. The views get better with every mile as well. You start with Rattlesnake Ledges/Ridge then onto Mt. Si and Little Si and then onto the ridges that separate the many valleys. Someday I will finish the whole trail but for now I never mind walking the first miles of it.