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Road Trip: Scenic Backroads

The backroads of Seattle NorthCountry are waiting to be explored.

1. Tualco Loop - Monroe, WA

Drive southbound in Monroe, turning off Highway 2 onto Kelsey Street. Past the small downtown, the road goes across a bridge, and opens up into river valley — enjoy green northwest farmland, cows, berries and evergreen trees all the way south to North Bend. Pull over for flower fields and birds.

You can take a day trip down to North Bend for a day of Twin Peaks sightseeing. Then come back to nearby Everett, WA to see “Laura Palmer’s house”* in the Port Gardner neighborhood (just Google the location).

2. Pioneer Highway - Silvana, WA

Famous among some local two-wheelers as a bicycle route, the Pioneer Highway is ideal for an auto trip, par excellence. Picture rolling farmland scenery, multiple roadside stands that sell blueberries, raw dairy products, and meats. Pull off at intervals to enjoy local swimming holes along the Silvana River. Dine at classic local small-town fave diner—Willow and Jim’s Cafe. Then, follow Highway 530 east to Arlington for a post-road trip lunch, or stop to enjoy strawberries and organic seasonal produce stands along the way.

3. Jim Creek and Jordan Roads- Arlington to Granite Falls

Jordan Road: Head south from Highway 530, taking Jordan Road. Stop at River Meadows to stretch legs, BBQ, and camp. Get your camera ready — you’ll want to be ready for winding back roads lined by leafy trees.

Jim Creek Road: Head south from 530, taking Jim Creek Road. The route will get quite rural, taking motorists to the base of the Cascade Mountains. The route emerges on the Mountain Loop Highway, and from there it’s a short jaunt down to Granite Falls.

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4. Sultan Basin Road

Take a left heading east, out of Sultan. A road up to Spada Lake. Get out of the car and hike at the Sultan Canyon River Trail. This route is a good way to see mountainous beauty and an alpine lake without straying too far from the vehicle.

5. South Monroe to Clearview via High Bridge Road

Start in Monroe out on the Tualco Loop. From there, follow the Sammamish River to where it meets the Snohomish River. The route is a one-lane road that is covered on both sides by thick vegetation; the trees break at intervals to offer verdant valley vistas.

Watch as hot air balloons rise from the Snohomish River Valley to the slopes of Lord Hill. End your route at a hilltop in Clearview. From there it’s a short jaunt to downtown Snohomish for a beer or food or coffee or shopping.

6. The Mountain Loop Highway

No list of scenic byways is complete without the Mountain Loop Highway. It’s closed in the off-season, so check ahead. The route takes you into the deep Cascades, all the way to the front door of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Along the route are almost an inexhaustible array of hiking opportunities. Or, you can just drive it in one shot (it takes about four hours non-stop), enjoying the mountainous scenery from your vehicle.

*About Laura Palmer’s house... make sure to stay off the property proper (obviously). The owners are ok with casual photos. Please take care to not disturb the occupants.

Managing Editor
Richard Porter