Outside of North Bend rises Mount Si, one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the state. This mountain, carved by glaciers long ago, rises abruptly from the floor of the valley outside North Bend and presents a dramatic face to the valley. If you are the least bit athletic, it's hard to resist the temptation to hike to the summit, where awesome views are the payoff. Be forewarned, however, that it's a strenuous 8-mile round-trip hike, and you'll need to carry lots of water. To reach the trailhead, drive east of downtown North Bend on North Bend Way, turn left on Mount Si Road, turn right after crossing the Snoqualmie River, and continue another 2 miles.
Farther east on I-90, at Snoqualmie Pass and before you reach the pass, are several trailheads. Some trails lead to mountain summits, others to glacier-carved lakes, and still others past waterfalls deep in the forest. Due to their proximity to Seattle, these trails can be crowded, and you need a Northwest Forest Pass to park at national forest trailheads. Passes are available at the ranger station in North Bend. A Northwest Forest Pass is not necessary for parking at the Mount Si trailhead, which is on state land. For more information, contact the North Bend Ranger District, 42404 SE North Bend Way, North Bend, WA 98045 (tel. 425/888-1421; www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs).
If you're interested in spending a few hours or a few days in the saddle, contact High Country Outfitters (tel. 888/235-0111 or 509/674-4903; www.highcountry-outfitters.com), which charges $90 for a day ride. Overnight and multi-day trips are also available.
Iron Horse State Park, a railroad right-of-way that has been converted to a gravel path stretching more than 100 miles, provides one of the most unusual mountain-biking routes in the Northwest. The trail passes under Snoqualmie Pass by way of the 2 1/2-mile-long Snoqualmie Tunnel, which is usually open to bicycles from May through October. To ride the tunnel, you'll need good lights, warm clothes, and rain gear (water constantly drips from the ceiling of the tunnel). To access the trail from the west side, take exit 38 off I-90. From the east side, take exit 62 off I-90.
While much of the terrain is not very interesting and the snow can be frustratingly unreliable due to winter rains, The Summit at Snoqualmie (tel. 425/434-7669 or 206/236-1600 for the snow report; www.summitatsnoqualmie.com) is the closest ski area to Seattle and consequently sees a lot of business both on weekends and for after-work night skiing. There are four ski areas (Alpental, Summit West, Summit Central, and Summit East) and 65 runs here. Rentals and lessons are available. Adult all-day lift tickets are $49. Call for hours of operation.
At Snoqualmie Pass are many miles of groomed and ungroomed cross-country ski trails. Summit Nordic Center (tel. 425/434-7669; www.summitatsnoqualmie.com) offers rentals, instruction, and miles of groomed trails.
There are also several Sno-Parks (designated cross-country ski areas) along I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass. Some have groomed trails; others have trails that are marked, but not groomed. Be sure to get a Sno-Park permit ($8-$9 for a 1-day pass; $20-$21 for a season pass), which is required if you want to park at a cross-country ski area. Sno-Park permits are available at ski shops; pick one up when renting your skis.