Skorheim: Free (tiny) train rides this weekend in Skykomish

Aug 30, 2023, 6:18 PM | Updated: 6:20 pm

My family and I found ourselves venturing out for a drive on Highway 2, heading east. These drives are not uncommon in our household, especially on a weekend when my wife and I are, literally trying to find anything we can do to entertain the kids. Sometimes the best thing we can hope for is for them to fall asleep from boredom, leaving my wife and I to enjoy the scenery in peace and quiet.

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So, we’re heading east with no particular destination in mind when out of nowhere, we see a sign up near Skykomish that read, “Free Train Rides.” When you have three kids and a limited budget, “free” is a word that tends to catch the eye. We turned right over the old bridge and into town. What we found next was a complete delight: The Great Northern & Cascade Railway, holding a prominent spot in the middle of the tiny town. In fact, it’s really the ONLY recreation in town, as far as I could tell.

Pulling into the gravel parking lot, our eyes were immediately drawn to a beautiful, old-fashioned truss bridge, only this one was miniature. If I were standing up to walk across it, I might have hit my head.

We parked our van, piled out and that’s when we saw five or six of some of the most classic-looking trains ever seen, all at 1/8 scale. The kids couldn’t wait to climb all over them. The trains are painstakingly recreated models of real trains. The rides are free and plentiful. You can ride as many times as you like, as long as you follow the rules.

If you can spare any money, a donation is appreciated. The Great Northern & Cascade Railway also has its own museum, gift store and visitor center — open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays — alongside its near-3,000 feet of track.

This serendipitous discovery on a random drive has now turned into a family tradition. We make sure to hit it at least once or twice during their operating season, which runs from May through the end of October. I highly recommend a short road trip up to Skykomish to check it out.

More from Skorheim, host of KIRO Nights: Jake Skorheim learned this tip to stay mentally sharp from his time in NBA

If you end up visiting, tell them Jake sent you. They won’t have any idea who I am, but it just sounded cool to write.

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Skorheim: Free (tiny) train rides this weekend in Skykomish