Saturday, July 28, 2012

North Cascades Highway

For the third weekend in a row I made a significant contribution to global warming. This time on four wheels. After having ridden WA-504 I thought I should try WA-20. According to Destination Highways WA-20 is the #1 road in Washington to drive. (WA-504 comes in 2nd or 3rd.) Here's the route:

View Larger Map

Expecting a 12-hour day I got off to an early start.  I headed out about 6:45am.  I arrived in Sedro-Woolley around 9:00am and figured that would be a good spot to refuel, grab some grub, and make a quick sanity-check on the car.

Sedro-Woolley is pretty typical small-town-Washington.  Which is to say that it's nothing like Seattle or Redmond: the locals are happy to chat and the ethnic diversity is about zero.  Other than WA-20 itself I think 50% of Sedro-Woolley is in that picture.  If you find yourself there I highly recommend the cinnamon rolls at the Hometown Cafe.

S Skagit Highway and WA-20 East of Sedro-Woolley is the road I had come for.  I definitely wasn't disappointed.  Most of the road is tree-covered, narrow, two-lane blacktop.  It's rural farmland.  I'm not sure it's better or worse than WA-504 but it's definitely different.  Where WA-504 has wide lanes and huge vistas that seem to beg for more throttle WA-504 has a sedate, back-country-road feel.  In retrospect the TR6 was the right choice.  The Ducati just wouldn't be as happy here.

The town of Winthrop marks the end of the more amusing section of WA-20.  I guess every summer weekend Winthrop sees a lot of visitors (the town seems built around tourism) but today had the added bonus of being a charity ride for a local motorcycle club.  There were probably 100 bikes in town.  I was lucky to find a place to park.

After grabbing some homemade ice-cream, a drink, and some sunblock I was off again just after 1pm.

If you're planning a trip, and you don't have time constraints, and you have to choose between "US-XX" and "Alt US-XX" I recommend "Alt".  Why?  Dunno, it just seems to work for me.  I might encounter more traffic lights but I'll almost always have less traffic.  So I picked Alt US-97 which takes a nice route around Lake Chelan and the Chelan River. ... The people in the city of Chelan have a good gig.

If you're planning a trip, and you don't have time constraints, and you think a "NF-XX" road looks interesting I suggest you be careful what you wish for. In my attempt to get off of US-2 I decided to detour up Chumstick Road to Little Wenatchee River Rd to NF-65 and NF-6700.  Chumstick was great.  Little Wenatchee was nice too.  Then I passed a sign that said "End of County Road" and suddenly the road was 4 feet narrower.  No problem, by car is pocket-sized.  Then came NF-6700.  I'm sure I checked the satellite images on Google Maps.  Apparently I didn't.  NF-6700 is unpaved.

At first I thought it was just an unpaved section and I'd soon get to the good stuff.  After 4 miles I realized there wasn't going to be any good stuff.  I could either backtrack the 4 miles of dirt and another 50 of asphalt or just finish the last 8 miles of dirt.  I chose the latter.  Although progress was slow it was some of the best scenery in the whole trip.

After getting back to WA-2 things went smoothly.  (Well, except for the one deer that made a foray into my lane.)  I arrived back at home around 7:30pm.  Both me and The Triumph seem to be in one piece but we're both pretty dirty.


Anonymous said...


trailheader said...

same here, thanks for the info. i was planning to take the 6700 myself soon. will post some snaps if i manage to click some good ones.