Touring - WA Cascade Loop Direction - CW or CCW?
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This July I'm going to ride a loop through the Cascades joining highways 20, 97, 97A, 2, the Centennial Trail and 530. It will probably end up close to 400 miles and I'm guessing around 6-7 days. I'm not in any hurry.
I'll pretty much be following this bikely route: North-Cascades-Stevens-Pass-Loop (http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/North-Cascades-Stevens-Pass-Loop)
Does anyone have an opinion on which direction to ride? Clockwise or counter-clockwise?
Thanks - Jerry
05-21-09, 09:00 AM
Seems that your not getting any answers. I'll give it a shot. I would jump on the other side of the river between Winthrop and Twist. Nice route with little traffic. I'd also jump on the old cascade hwy on the west side of stevens pass for a break from traffic as well. both of these roads are short but a nice break. From Rockport to Washington Pass is a real grind and sustained climbing. If you go from Winthrop towards Washington Pass on the North Cascade Pass it's much steeper but it does seem easier. For that reason I would suggest counter.
It really will not matter though. Either way is going to be a great trip. When at Washington Pass do not ride past the lookout. Amazing views.
Your going to have an amazing time. The roads you are going to be on... Hwy 2 is a busy sucker on the the weekends. Ride it mid week and or early in the day.
Hwy 20 can be busy but nothing like 2.
The stretch between Lake Stevens and Arlington sucks. Get creative with google maps between Monroe and Darrington. Find any alternate you can. Even if it makes your ride a little longer. Mid day suggested if your not going to get off the main road.
My 2 cents. If you have any question please feel free to ask. Lived here my whole life so I may have a few ideas.
05-21-09, 10:29 AM
I've never ridden this roads, can't help. You could also try posting in the Pacific Northwest regional subforum.
Great reply kyakdiver! That's just the kind of info I was hoping to get. If I think of anything specific, you'll be hearing from me.
FlowerBlossom - Good idea! I'll do that now.
05-21-09, 01:41 PM
Assuming you're starting somewhere on the western side of the Cascades, I'd ride it counterclockwise to save the best (the North Cascades) for last.
Also, as noted above, I'd work with a more detailed map to take the backgrounds along the western side -- look at the route that brings you through Granite Falls.
05-21-09, 01:53 PM
Are you getting off in Wenatchee or Everett or elsewhere. Bengeboy makes a good point about finishing up with the Cascades. Would give you a few days to get your legs ready as well.
I'm pretty sure you can take back roads from Monroe and head North towards Granite Falls... I'll do a little searching. I seem to remember doing a route like that in the past. If I figure it out I'll PM you.
Your going to have a great time. Enjoy.
05-21-09, 02:02 PM
From Monroe head North on Woods Creek Road. Then South Lake Roesiger Road that turns into Menzel Lake road and finally into Granite Falls. From there you can google the rest from Granite into Arlington that will put you on the road to Darrington.
This should get you out of the crappy part of your route. No point in fighting the traffic through that area. Plus these back roads a pretty darn nice.
That route through Granite Falls looks good. I was going to take the Centennial Trail around Lake Stevens, but I'd rather be farther away from suburbia.
I don't have a specific start/finish point yet. All I need is a place to long-term park my vehicle while I'm out riding so it could be anywhere along, or close to, the route.
The farther along my plans get, the more anxious I am to get started!
Thanks for all the suggestions!
05-21-09, 03:04 PM
Another option -- if you are willing to ride about 10 or 15 miles on hard-packed gravel -- is to take the Mountain Loop Highway south out of Darrington. I think it's NFD road 20.
(assuming you are riding this route CCW) -- It goes Darrington, Bedall, Monte Cristo, Silverton, and then into Granite Falls from the East. This is very pretty, not much traffic on weekdays (on weekends there are campers/motorcyclists). No services along the entire route from Darrington to Granite Falls except for camping (maybe some water at campsites? I don't know).
Monte Cristo is an abandoned mining town off the road - you can hike up to see the abandoned mines or bike a couple of miles and then hike where the road is washed out. Pretty interesting if you like ghost towns.
Google "Monte Cristo Preservation Association"
05-21-09, 03:18 PM
Jerry, I put my 2 cents in for "counter clockwise" on the PNW forum.
When you're making final decisions on the route from generally Darrington to Snohomish (I live near there), you might want to zoom in on the bikely air photos and get a sense about the suburban-ness of it. The Centennial Trail has a 'biking through the woods' feel -- it's an old RR grade -- that is mostly more "natural" than any 2-lane back road. I would avoid Hwy 9 from Arlington to Lake Stevens -- dull and a lot of traffic.
For the Snohomish-Monroe section, don't ride Hwy 2 -- go on the Old Snohomish Monroe Highway, south side of the valley. If you don't mind a couple of steep pitches, you can continue on to Sultan via the Ben Howard Road. As you get nearer to Skykomish there are a couple pieces of old Hwy 2 you can pick up, and also past Skykomish en route to Scenic.
As you near Lake Chelan, if you've headed up the west side of the Columbia from Wenatchee, you can crank up Navarr (sp?) Coulee and be rewarded with more miles along the south shore of the lake.
Thanks to everyone! This has been incredibly helpful. When I get a chance I'll make a route on Bikely and post it here for everyones review.
If any locals have a suggestion on long-term parking I'd like to hear them. I'm thinking possibly airport or train station.
05-21-09, 10:27 PM
There is long-term parking at the ferry parking lot in Anacortes. That would be more interesting than parking down at the airport and cycling out of the airport. (Also, if you have extra time, you could ferry over to one of the San Juan Islands after your tour for a day trip).
05-22-09, 01:51 AM
suggestion on long-term parking . . . possibly airport or train station.
You could probably park in one of the lots at the Everett Station for a week and not be bothered, nor have to pay. (I didn't see any maximum length of parking on the sites I looked at).
Park in the lot south of the station, go south on Smith out to the Lowell neighborhood, then along the River Road to Snohomish, or go north to Pacific, east to Maple, north to Hewitt, east onto the bike/ped section of the Hwy 2 bridge over the Snohomish River, then down Home Acres Road and Riverside / Riverview roads into Snohomish, then right on Lincoln and you're on your way to Monroe on the old highway. I could "bikely" either of those for you if you would like, but they're pretty hard to get lost on.
05-25-09, 01:09 AM
Jerry, here's one more semi-crazy idea which works with the CCW route:
Park your vehicle at any convenient Amtrak station on the Empire Builder route (Chicago-Seattle). Needs to be a station where you can check luggage, i.e. your bike (boxed).
Then, get off at Ephrata or Wenatchee, Washington; ride the loop, except for Stevens Pass, ending up at Everett. Procure bike box at the station, box bike, and ride the train back.
better find out from a person at Amtrak (better yet, a couple people) that you can indeed get baggage OFF the train at Ephrata or Wenatchee -- according to their website, no baggage service nor help with baggage at either location. As I recall (coming back from backpacking trips in Glacier Park), train gets into Ephrata at about 5:30 am and Wenatchee by about 7:00.
If you get off at Ephrata, you can ride north in the canyon that's called the Grand Coulee; stop at the visitor center at Dry Falls and watch the movie on the geology. Then, continue north to Grand Coulee, see the dam, (note - the ride down to that visitor center will test your brakes, the ride back up, your very lowest gear -- might want to find a non-bike way to work that part in). From Grand Coulee, you can head west on the south side of the river and scream down another hill before crossing the river to get to Chelan.
Eastbound from Everett, train leaves in the early evening.
05-27-09, 08:12 PM
If any locals have a suggestion on long-term parking I'd like to hear them.
I live less than a mile from the center of the Centennial Trail in Lake Stevens. I'd be happy to let you park your car next to my house for a week in exchange for getting to hear first hand about your trip when you return. PM me for details.
I'm planning my own 9-day tour for September that will follow much of your same route and I can give you lots of first-hand tips about the roads & trails from Sultan to Rockport.
Wow Skyler! That's a very generous offer! I'll definitely consider that and send you a PM either way.
Thanks - Jerry
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