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Road Trip: Tualco Valley

Fields of flowers, glamping and roadside fruit stands.

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The Tualco Valley just south of Monroe is a place that most people don’t know about. That’s what makes it special—its secluded feeling. Go here to see long rows of vegetables, wide-open skies, gurgling rivers, and views of Mount Rainier to the South. The long valley is ideal for touring bicyclists.

1. Al Borlin Park, Monroe

This riverside park is a perfect place to pull off the road and unload cycles. Fill up your water bottle and be prepared to stick to the narrow shoulder. These back roads are scenic, but there isn’t much margin on road shoulders for recreationists on two wheels.

Stop back at this roadside park on the return trip to cool off your muscles in the Skykomish River or its milder and easier-to-dip-in tributary, Woods Creek. This park is nice and calm.

Start here and head south on Kelsey Street, and across the bridge.

2. Falling Water Gardens glamping

The front of this AirBnB glamping property is garden art and fountains, the back part is a two-tent glamping venue.

The glamping spot is complete with Edison bulbs and canvas tents on platforms and you can book the place the day on AirBnB. There’s not much that you have to pack or “load in” to enjoy the experience — Falling Waters provides a microwave, a mini-fridge, a grill, a hammock, a bed, and a cooler. Just show up with your gear and a few food items and you’re ready to chill.

Book a night here.

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3. Roadside farmstands

Pull off the road and enjoy true season produce, right from the surrounding fields. It doesn’t get any fresher than this — greens and fruits plucked mere yards away. These makes for ideal dinner ingredients after a day exploring river valley routes.

4. Bicycle routes

A favorite bike route goes through the Tualco Valley south, following back roads all the way to Duvall, Carnation, North Bend, and Snoqualmie Falls. Can go out and then come back to lodge in Monroe at Falling Waters or local AirBnB options.

This is a prime spot for cyclists heading south to Duvall, Carnation, and North Bend where cult 1990s television show “Twin Peaks” was filmed.

Or, head east on Ben Howard Road to small mountain towns of Sky Valley: Sultan, Startup, and Gold Bar can be accessed via winding river backroads.

5. Taco trucks & the magic of Adam’s NW Bistro

On Main Street in Monroe, you can find taco trucks spread out at intervals along the main drag. These trucks have picnic benches (sometimes covered, sometimes not) as well as cold beverages.

If you prefer more of a cafe environment, try Adam’s Bistro (104 N Lewis St, Monroe) and their accompanying cafe next door in the heart of the old downtown. These modern eateries offer everything from a casual cup of espresso and croissants to a salmon dinner and beers brewed in-house.

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Richard Porter
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