Fall City, Washington, local John Rouches is a yahoo to the core, shredding his local resort, Snoqualmie, and its backcountry throughout the winter and ripping its trails and waterways as soon as the snow melts (and often even before). As you’d expect, living in such proximity to tantalizing terrain, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and his kids, Jake and Sophia, are seasoned rippers also. You’ll find Jake is a force in the local park-and-pipe scene, and Sophia, when you can pry her off the soccer field, chasing her dad down area rivers and trails. Which all begs the question: when does the homework and yard work get done?
Here are a few of his favorite things about Snoqualmie:
Aspect of the region in the off-season: With so much to do, we don’t have an off-season or much down time. You can mountain bike, kayak, paddle surf, paddle board, hike, road bike, rollerblade, fish, alpine climb, rock climb, ice climb, lift ski, backcountry ski, skate ski, classic ski, swim, yoga it up, and more all year.
Place to mountain bike: My latest fave is Grand Ridge from High Point Way to Duthie Hill, then bomb around Duthie, ride the features, and back to the car. It’s 14 miles roundtrip, plus whatever you do at Duthie.
Place to road ride: I’m on the mountain bike trails and don’t ride the road.
Place to ride with the family: For mountain biking, it’s Tolt MacDonald. Once you get on top, there are miles of singletrack with no net elevation gain. Some of us call it Disneyland-it’s rolly, ripping, and mostly buffed out, with only a few roots and rocks. For gravel road riding, head to the Iron Horse Trail on Snoqualmie Pass, which involves a car shuttle. Travel down an old railroad grade at 2.2 percent for about 2,000 vert for 22 miles, then 2.5 miles through the old tunnel (don’t forget your headlamps) to Rattlesnake Lake for a barbecue. Bring your rock gear for a quick boulder or one-pitch climb at Exit 38. Shorten the ride by exiting early to I-90; just make sure you leave your car at the right exit.
Place to paddle (flatwater): We just started running the Snoqualmie from Tokul Creek to Fall City (Class I-II) on inflatable paddleboards. It’s a great summer run that you can do in shorts, a paddleboard flotation device, and hat. While you have to dodge the partyers on air mattresses and floating coolers, the novelty of the paddleboard is usually good for one or two free beers from them.
Place to paddle (whitewater): Hands down, Green River Gorge (Class III-IV). If you want a big day, start at the headwaters and run it to Flaming Geyser (take lunch break just before The Painted Wall). The gorge stretch needs to be respected–run it smart. A good local run when it’s raining hard is Raging River, taking out in Fall City across from the Last Frontier Tavern-just watch for wood.
Place to paddle with the family: For a mellow run, hit the South Fork of the Snoqualmie. For one notch up, try the Middle Middle of the Snoqualmie.
Place to refuel or grab a beer: Downtown Fall City, no question. The Last Frontier has tons of character from locals to microsofties, bikers, and hikers. There are lots of mountain bikers there in the summer evenings. Bonus: Wednesday is dollar taco night.
Photos courtesy Rouches, Snoqualmie