Western Washington, hiking, climbing, Best of the NW year-round trails.
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Stevens Pass, HWY 2
The Great Northern Railroad Iron Goat trail retraces the tracks of history through a scenic and challenging engineering section of the abandoned railroad pass crossing.
From the interpretive center featuring a caboose rail car find the winding path that leads to interpretive trails. The route to the right climbs 700 feet of switchbacks in 1.5 miles to the Windy Point overlook.
With a most scenic rest stop along the way.
Most of the loop trail follows the nearly flat railroad grade of 3 vertical feet for every 100 fee (albeit near the climbing limit for railroad cars).
Follow along retaining walls and refurbished mile markers with historical interpretive signs along the way. Telling the story of ambitious businessmen using any means possible to construct and maintain this rail passageway in inhospitable terrain. Sparks from the coal-fired steam engines ignited the steep neighboring hills burning any existing natural snow anchors. Many dormers, and tunnels had to be built on this 3-mile section to protect the tracks from avalanches from annual winter snow accumulation averaging 15 feet.
The upper railroad grade offers alpine views across the corridor. Evidence of nature taking back the landscape makes the way interesting with stream crossings and new vegetation overtaking historical remnants.
The switchbacks at the Corea Crossover connect the upper and lower railroad grades bypassing the condemned U turn section of the railroad tunnel. Following along the Tye River valley along the lower railroad grade. Bypass weeping retaining walls to peek into short sections of collapsing tunnels cut through rock and bridging steep hillsides to shield from threats of avalanches.
This historical gateway is a wonderful outing for scenery and deepening appreciation of the perseverance of the thousands of workers that forged the passage through this section of the Cascades.
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