Sunday morning was going to be a big day. As we made ready for the journey we had chosen for the day, Latigo lay on the rug in the living room, unmoving. Looking at me with an expression on his face that clearly stated, “You have got to be kidding me.” He was clearly exhausted from the previous days outing and we opted to leave him at home to enjoy a good rest. The trail we had chosen for the day isn’t the most dog friendly so we knew it would be all around better if he didn’t come along. The Iron Horse Trail is primarily a bike trail. The trail was once part of the path of the Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad. The railroad grade made for a very gradual elevation gain. We decided as we set off that we were going to do 20 miles! This is, by far, the greatest length we have ever traveled on foot in one day. But, knowing that we would have to be able to complete a 20.5 mile day while in Ireland we were determined to see if we could do it. The trail, being an old railroad was dotted with signs for the cities we were passing through!

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We kept a very strong, but comfortable pace throughout the day, averaging 3 miles per hour. Frequent breaks, lots of snacks, and plenty of water for the scorching 80 degree day allowed us to be successful and reach our goal! We ended up doing 20.2 miles in 7 hours. This trail isn’t incredibly scenic and our turn around point was literally when we hit 10 miles according to our wonderful Gaia GPS app.

Woohoo we made it 10 miles!!!
Woohoo we made it 10 miles!!!

I90 is a constant companion along this trail. It is frequently visible below you and can almost always be heard while you walk.

The mountains across the freeway
The mountains across the freeway

But it was the perfect solution to our problem of finding long distance hikes that aren’t snow covered. The old railroad bridges that we crossed were definitely something to behold. Their height and length was often impressive, and for those a little more nervous about heights, they seemed imposing and scary.

One of the longer bridges along the trail
One of the longer bridges along the trail

The hike did offer some spectacular views of the surrounding Cascades at points.

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Rattlesnake Ledge
Rattlesnake Ledge

Iron Horse Trail 5/5/13 EveryTrail

We were surprised that it wasn’t busier on the trail.

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With the unseasonably warm weather we were sure we would be accompanied by many other outdoor enthusiasts. While we did encounter several other groups on the trail, walkers, bikers, and rock climbers alike, the numbers were in no way ever overwhelming. We had one strange encounter with an older hiker. We were taking a break on the side of the trail, having a quick snack. Bobby had his phone out looking at the map of the area, I should mention that it is one of Bobby’s life goals to learn the names of all the mountain peaks, so he was simply looking at the mountains in the area trying to learn their names. This old man was walking by with a companion and exclaimed, “You have got to be kidding me!” while looking directly at Bobby and I. I said, “Excuse me?” and the man looked shocked. I thought, maybe we know him from somewhere. But no, he started ranting about how he can’t believe it when people use cell phones while outside in the great outdoors. Bobby explained that he was looking at a map and the man apologized and said that that was okay. It was rather bizarre.

Overall, the weekend was a complete success! Walking on Sunday night was unusually difficult but after a good nights rest we were amazed at how much better our legs were feeling. To know that completing a 20 mile day on the trail is totally within our capabilities we now have a newfound excitement and confidence as we count down the days to our journey through Ireland’s scenic County Kerry!

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About the author


I am the youngest of six daughters and spent my childhood vacations camping in the beautiful State Parks of MN. In 2009 I married my best friend, Bobby Marko. We have embarked on numerous adventures along with our Golden Retriever, Latigo, our son, Jack (born 7/26/2014) and our daughter, Rowan (born 10/25/2016). When not adventuring in the great outdoors I spend my time as a stay at home mom and volunteer. I am a Branch Lead for the Twin Cities Hike it Baby branch. My favorite pastimes include dog training, eating chocolate, reading mysteries and crappy romance novels, and creating paper crafts, my passion lies in writing.

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