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Old 07-01-12, 01:14 PM   #1
toddles
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Mountain Loop Hwy

I'm strongly considering riding the Mountain Loop Hwy out of Granite Falls to Darrington on the 4th of July by myself. I plan on riding it one way only and getting a pick up. It's a 51 miler ride from point to point and if I start in Snohomish like I'm thinking, it's about 70 miles. The road out of GF follows the south fork of the Stillaguamish River up to Barlows Pass before peaking and descending back down into Darrington along the Sauk River. It is here at the pass the paved road gives way to gravel and dirt for about 14 miles before your the pavement picks up again Yesterday, I scouted the loop by car and it appeared the best approach is to ride from GF to Darrington for a couple of reasons. The first is the slope up to Barlows Pass heading from the west is not nearly as steep, and secondly all your up hill riding is on pavement. Has anyone ever ridden this before? I don't think traffic will be an issue but will be on guard for drunken yahoos. My main concern riding this alone is for the exact same reason I want to ride it alone. Solitude. There's not a lot out there and cell phone reception doesn't exist. Of course I'll take a back up tire, etc.... but if something bad goes on -- anything -- I could be SOL.

Do you think this is a good idea? Has anyone ridden this alone? Do you agree with my assessment that it's better to start out of Granite Falls rather than Darrington?

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Old 07-01-12, 01:54 PM   #2
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I have done this same route many times, both on dual-sport motorcycles and on mountain bikes. You will be fine. You will see that there is a fair amount of vehicular traffic on the road, even on the holiday. A nice loop is to ride up from Granite Falls, do the Mountain Loop to Darrington, then connect to the Whitehorse Trail in Darrington, which then connects to the new expansion of the Centennial Trail. You can then ride Centennial all the way back down to Snohomish.

Depending on if the County has gotten out there yet, be advised that the gravel portion of the Loop can have washouts and significant potholing early in the season.
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Old 07-01-12, 01:55 PM   #3
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I should also note there is a single store in Verlot which is about 10 miles east of Granite Falls. Beyond that, there are no services for 41 miles until you get to Darrington. Not that this is a show stopper by any means, but it gives you an idea of the territory I'd be riding through.
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Old 07-01-12, 02:02 PM   #4
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I have done this same route many times, both on dual-sport motorcycles and on mountain bikes. You will be fine. You will see that there is a fair amount of vehicular traffic on the road, even on the holiday. A nice loop is to ride up from Granite Falls, do the Mountain Loop to Darrington, then connect to the Whitehorse Trail in Darrington, which then connects to the new expansion of the Centennial Trail. You can then ride Centennial all the way back down to Snohomish.

Depending on if the County has gotten out there yet, be advised that the gravel portion of the Loop can have washouts and significant potholing early in the season.
I tried to spot the Whitehorse trail and it looked TOTALLY unfit or riding. I'm on a touring bike w/ cyclocross tires which is fine travelling through the loop. But back to the Whitehorse. Where do you catch it out of Darrington? Arlington? Is it loose gravel? I've wanted to ride this as the Arlington/Darrington road is pretty dangerous in my view. The first 7 miles or so out of Darrington are ok but then you hit a long stretch there with no shoulders and it's busy as hell. Thus my interest in Whitehorse. Maybe I was looking at the wrong path, but I found an old overgrown path with railroad bridges that were not being used near the Lake Cavennaugh (sp?) Road that was discouraging.
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Old 07-01-12, 02:27 PM   #5
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Looks like the Whitehorse Trail is closed. http://www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/Depar...horseTrail.htm
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Old 07-01-12, 02:47 PM   #6
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Yes, that is the Whitehorse. Only a small stretch from downtown Darrington out towards Arlington is being actively maintained any more. Being closed does not mean that people and horses are not still using it, though. You see a lot of mountain bikers out there. I would not ride my road bikes on it, though. Come to think of it, knowing that you are on a road frame, I wonder if I would ride the gravel portion of the Loop on that. I have always ridden the Barlow Pass onward segment on my mountain bikes. The condition of the gravel portion of the road can vary considerably. I have only ever driven it on my dual sports and my Ford Escape. I have not ridden the Loop that far up this year yet, so I have no idea of the current road surface conditions. Winter is usually pretty hard on the Loop, and recall that the road was closed at Barlow for many years due to winter storm damage, and was only reopened in 2009 after all the washouts, avalanches and downed trees were repaired.

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Old 07-01-12, 02:53 PM   #7
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That's cool. Thanks Mill. I could ride the 6 mile stretch out of Darringnton and connect with the hwy later. Getting picked up in Darrington is not the most convenient option. If I can return to the Arlington area, I have a lot more options.
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Old 07-01-12, 03:16 PM   #8
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Yes, that is the Whitehorse. Only a small stretch from downtown Darrington out towards Arlington is being actively maintained any more. Being closed does not mean that people and horses are not still using it, though. You see a lot of mountain bikers out there. I would not ride my road bikes on it, though. Come to think of it, knowing that you are on a road frame, I wonder if I would ride the gravel portion of the Loop on that. I have always ridden the Barlow Pass onward segment on my mountain bikes. The condition of the gravel portion of the road can vary considerably. I have only ever driven it on my dual sports and my Ford Escape. I have not ridden the Loop that far up this year yet, so I have no idea of the current road surface conditions. Winter is usually pretty hard on the Loop, and recall that the road was closed at Barlow for many years due to winter storm damage, and was only reopened in 2009 after all the washouts, avalanches and downed trees were repaired.

We drove a sudan through it last night. There were plenty of potholes but they looked easily navigat-able. There were some washed out areas but not road blockers. The gravel is firmly packed. I have a steel frame and I'm not worried. My ass may be damn sore though.

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Old 07-02-12, 07:01 AM   #9
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http://www.heraldnet.com/article/201...tennial-Trail-

A story in today's Everett Herald about upcoming work on the Centennial and Whitehorse trails.
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Old 07-02-12, 09:39 AM   #10
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I should also note there is a single store in Verlot which is about 10 miles east of Granite Falls. Beyond that, there are no services for 41 miles until you get to Darrington. Not that this is a show stopper by any means, but it gives you an idea of the territory I'd be riding through.
That's what panniers are for - stock up.

I would do it if I had a bike that took wide enough tires. It should be pretty empty, but not abandoned. You probably won't have any trouble at all, but, if you do, you'll flag the next person who drives by down, and it won't take an hour, probably, before someone does.

The danger, of course, is that you'll get hooked, and start climbing other mountains, too.
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Old 07-02-12, 09:46 AM   #11
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I've got the panniers -- and I'll be fine -- it's the fear of Deliverance. It's Omni's fault.
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Old 07-02-12, 09:56 AM   #12
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http://www.heraldnet.com/article/201...tennial-Trail-

A story in today's Everett Herald about upcoming work on the Centennial and Whitehorse trails.
Thanks for the link Mill! I've been trying to find out why they delayed the opening of the north end for sometime now and couldn't find anything for months. I ride this trail full length a lot and have been waiting for it. I actually sent an email to the county last January and never heard back from them.

I also knew about the Whitehorse Trail attention but was sad to read that for now it's 8 miles only and gravel. Oh well, it's a start.
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Old 07-02-12, 11:46 AM   #13
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I periodically ride up to the end, and the trail has been closed right at the bridge at Bryant. That new bridge is gorgeous. I will also be interested to see what is going to happen in Arlington, and are we going to have to continue to ride on the road for that stretch coming into downtown.
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Old 07-02-12, 11:47 AM   #14
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I've got the panniers -- and I'll be fine -- it's the fear of Deliverance. It's Omni's fault.
You will likely be unpleasantly surprised by the amount of vehicle traffic on this stretch. It is pretty busy during the day.
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Old 07-02-12, 08:40 PM   #15
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I periodically ride up to the end, and the trail has been closed right at the bridge at Bryant. That new bridge is gorgeous. I will also be interested to see what is going to happen in Arlington, and are we going to have to continue to ride on the road for that stretch coming into downtown.
Yeah I ride up to the postings and then typically pick up hwy 9. I've been curious just to go down it and explore. But I'm gonna be a good citizen and wait to be surprised. According to that article, 67th is going to be completed. There is a reason I ride 20 miles north from my home to catch the Centennial Trail in Snohomish. For long distance riding, that trail rocks. My only question I have is if the trail ends at the Skagit line, what cross street does it intersect with? I mean it's gotta come out somewhere. According to the article they're putting a parking area at the end of it. I'm wondering how far/easy it'd be to get out to Lake McMurray as i typically have a need to get to at least Mt. Vernon. If the funding stops in Snohomish I don't think it makes it all the way to the lake.

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Old 07-03-12, 12:19 AM   #16
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Here's some good info Mills on closing the Arlington gap:

http://www.arlingtonwa.gov/index.aspx?page=60

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Old 07-03-12, 09:12 AM   #17
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You're gonna take pictures, right Toddles?
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Old 07-03-12, 09:43 AM   #18
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You're gonna take pictures, right Toddles?
When I go Forrey. I just found out we've been invited to a July 4th party in the early afternoon, so this is going to have to wait until maybe next weekend. Bring back some pictures of Thailand.
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Old 07-03-12, 09:46 AM   #19
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Meh. I got invited to some Fourth of July parties, too. I told them "catch me if you can."
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Old 07-03-12, 09:59 AM   #20
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Meh. I got invited to some Fourth of July parties, too. I told them "catch me if you can."
Well, it was a coworker that had invited me like 4 weeks ago and totally slipped my mind until she asked me if I was coming with my gal. I felt compelled. But I'm also coming off of some small infection in my chest so the extra couple days off may be to my advantage. Go check out Northern Idaho.
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Old 07-03-12, 10:06 AM   #21
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My condolences, Toddles. When work people invite me to things, outside of work, I tell them "they have to pay me a lot of money to tolerate you asses. I'm not doing more of it for free."

It's good to make your colleagues feel welcome and loved.
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Old 07-03-12, 10:10 AM   #22
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My condolences, Toddles. When work people invite me to things, outside of work, I tell them "they have to pay me a lot of money to tolerate you asses. I'm not doing more of it for free."

It's good to make your colleagues feel welcome and loved.
Funny! I am going to ride the Cedar River Trail though. It's the only major trail in King/Snohomish I have not ridden twice... let alone once. So i can scratch that one off my list.
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Old 07-03-12, 10:14 AM   #23
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Are you gonna stop at the Big Four Ice Caves when you do the loop?
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Old 07-03-12, 10:32 AM   #24
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Are you gonna stop at the Big Four Ice Caves when you do the loop?
It's only 4 miles from the top of the pass so yeah, I'll swing through the parking lot. I think it's like a 4 mile hike in from there but I could be wrong. I have information on it right next to me but I'm to lazy to dig it out. Plus I gotta head into work shortly.
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Old 07-03-12, 01:35 PM   #25
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My only question I have is if the trail ends at the Skagit line, what cross street does it intersect with? I mean it's gotta come out somewhere.
It will end at Highway 9, right near where Highway 9 jogs at Lake McMurray Lane. Bryant is the last official trailhead that is open. You can ride the trail all the way to the bridge at Pilchuck Creek, but the bridge is blocked off. Going to be sweet when the full trail is open - especially with the improvements planned in Arlington.
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