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  1. #1
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Darrington to Rockport, scenic North Cascades ride (pics)

    This is a ride I've been wanting to do for a couple years, and Saturday's gorgeous weather made it finally happen.

    I drove my bike to Darrington, wondering where to park. I've been through there enough (always on my way to or from the North Cascades) to know you can't just park on the street, at least not on the main road, and this is one of the reasons I haven't done the ride yet. Turns out the gas station will let you leave your car behind for several hours while you ride, if you fill your tank there.

    The ride is moderate in length (20 miles each way) and pretty flat. Mostly the road is forested on both sides, with incredible peek a boo views of the mountains in every direction. There are no stores, water fountains, or anything like that between the start and end points, but there's a store in Darrington and another at the North Cascades highway. Better to bring your own provisions, though. There are a few creeks you'll pass along the way for water if you bring a purifier, and access to a boat launch on the Sauk.

    If you've never been to Darrington, it'll drop your jaw. Spring is the best time to do this ride, the mountains are breathtaking while they're still covered in snow.

    Side note: last year I did a ride that was going to be from Arlington to Darrington, but turned back at the construction that's been going on for years. Looks like that's finally complete!



















    Don't believe everything you think.

  2. #2
    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    I always enjoy your ride reports, SF. Thanks for sharing.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Thanks, Woodway!

    This is probably boring to everybody but me, but here's my latest map. The cyan lines are bike rides; red ones are kayak trips, and yellow ones are hikes. I really only started traveling with my bike last Spring.



    I'm eager to go ride through the Columbia River Gorge, and I'm sure there are a lot of rides I don't know about yet with spectacular mountain scenery.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for sharing! How are the drivers and roads in Darrington/Arlington? Especially on the narrower mountain/1 lane roads, I'm always nervous some giant truck will brush too close to me on those smaller roads.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Last year I did half the ride from Arlington to Darrington, and turned back early at the construction zone because, well, there was a lot of traffic and no shoulder whatsoever. Wasn't comfortable. I did a ride going south from Arlington, on less-used back roads, and it was fine, although I didn't stay out long because of the awful weather. The little town of Oso has no shoulders on the highway, although there's a side road to bypass some of it. In general, I don't much like the section of 530 from Arlington to Darrington.

    This ride on Sunday, there was almost no traffic at all. Half the drivers who passed me moved into the (empty) oncoming traffic lane to give me room.

    There was a hippie kid walking south, I saw him on the way up and I saw him a mile or two down the road on my way back. He asked if I'm Wizard when I went by.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  6. #6
    Senior Member percy kittens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    There was a hippie kid walking south, I saw him on the way up and I saw him a mile or two down the road on my way back. He asked if I'm Wizard when I went by.
    And you replied...?

    Thanks for another inspiring ride report. I am inching closer to considering driving to a ride. Something about getting in a car just blows the whole thing for me...but these pics are from places I can only get to using my vehicle, unless I am willing to ride out, but that could involve camping and a tent heads up a long list of things I do not have for such an undertaking.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    I told him I was not a wizard, but that I could understand where he might have got the idea. I also told him a bike would help him get where he's going more quickly...

    You should try driving your bike somewhere beautiful, Percy. At least once. We live in a pretty beautiful place, but it's good to change your scenery.

    I haven't tried touring, as in camping from a bike, yet. I've taken my bike camping from the car, which can be nice.

    Here's another picture of Darrington, from last July, when I camped for most of a week on Diablo Lake, and used the opportunity to go ride my bike in the Methow Valley. This wasn't far from where I shot the first pic in this ride report.



    Clouds seem to be a permanent fixture of these mountains.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  8. #8
    Senior Member percy kittens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    I told him I was not a wizard, but that I could understand where he might have got the idea. I also told him a bike would help him get where he's going more quickly...

    You should try driving your bike somewhere beautiful, Percy. At least once. We live in a pretty beautiful place, but it's good to change your scenery.

    I haven't tried touring, as in camping from a bike, yet. I've taken my bike camping from the car, which can be nice.

    Here's another picture of Darrington, from last July, when I camped for most of a week on Diablo Lake, and used the opportunity to go ride my bike in the Methow Valley. This wasn't far from where I shot the first pic in this ride report.



    Clouds seem to be a permanent fixture of these mountains.
    I do recall a drive-out a few years back. to Vashon. We stayed at the hostel in a tepee and rode around the island. I was drunk the entire time. Lots of goats and interesting animals behind what i found out were electric fences when my drunk ass went up to see the goats. My roommate laughed his ass off.


    Breathtaking picture!

  9. #9
    Senior Member NVanHiker's Avatar
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    Wow! I'm currently planning a ride this year doing a loop Burlington-Rockport-Darrington-Arlington-Burlington (Burlington is an easy day's ride from Vancouver). I had no idea the scenery was that spectacular. There's a 16-unit motel in Darrington to break the trip. I take most of my vacation time in Sept/Oct which to me is the best hiking & biking season, but I don't know if I can wait that long!

  10. #10
    Senior Member percy kittens's Avatar
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    Wow NvanHiker! I just google mapped a ride from Vnc to B'ton and according to it that is a 7-hour ride. I am sure I have rode 7 hours in one day but always looped it to back home. My helmet is off to you sir.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Medic Zero's Avatar
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    Nice! Thanks for sharing! I'll have to add that to my list of rides to do, looks good!
    ISO: 22" GT Rebound frame, year 2000 model

  12. #12
    Senior Member NVanHiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by percy kittens View Post
    Wow NvanHiker! I just google mapped a ride from Vnc to B'ton and according to it that is a 7-hour ride. I am sure I have rode 7 hours in one day but always looped it to back home. My helmet is off to you sir.
    Actually, I take public transit from my home in North Van to a border town called White Rock - knocks off 30 miles and a lot of dangerous traffic!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Are you riding from White Rock to Burlington?
    Don't believe everything you think.

  14. #14
    Senior Member percy kittens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NVanHiker View Post
    Actually, I take public transit from my home in North Van to a border town called White Rock - knocks off 30 miles and a lot of dangerous traffic!
    Still pretty impressive -- to me anyway.

  15. #15
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Beautiful ride! Thanks for the fantastic photos!

    Going south out of Darrington the map shows Mountain Loop Road, have you been on this road? It looks a nice ride too.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  16. #16
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Part of the Mountain Loop Highway is road ... specifically the part you're asking about. I haven't been very far at all down the dirt section. If you leave from Granite Falls (I rode out of there last weekend, but with no memory card in my camera ) the Mountain Loop is paved as far as Barlow Pass. But then it's dirt until Darrington. Might work with a cross bike, but I don't have one anymore...

    The trail to Gothic Basin starts at Barlow Pass, and it's a pretty fantastic hike for the west side.
    Don't believe everything you think.

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