Bike the North Cascades Highway

Rate this Adventure 38 miles 3500 ft gain  - Point-to-Point Trail

Added by Stephen Matera

Enjoy one of the most stunningly scenic roads in the lower 48. If you get too hot, there are great waterfalls along the road for cooling off on the ride up. Still got energy? There's an option for another 8 miles and 1,500' of climbing to continue to Rainy Pass.

The North Cascades Highway is one of the most beautiful roads in the country. A popular, but long bike ride is to ride from Marblemount on the West side of the Cascades to Mazama on the east side. But for those who aren't up for an epic ride, there is an out and back option from Mazama on east side in the Methow Valley at 2,000' to Washington Pass at the crest of the North Cascades Highway at almost 5,500' in 19 miles each way.

Start your ride off right with coffee and breakfast at the Mazama Store right in the heart of Mazama (park at the corral a couple of hundred feet from the store). Take the 1/2 mile road from Mazama towards Washington State Highway 20, aka the North Cascades Highway. Turn right, and start pedaling. You'll get an easy 2 miles before the climbing begins. Then settle in for a constant, if not steep climb.

Definitely plan some time to stop and take some photos, because your jaw will drop when you get up a little higher. The views really get good once you get past the turnoff for Cutthroat Lake. Gawk at jagged Silver Star Peak at almost 9,000' (5,000' above the highway), and the classic Liberty Bell and Early Winters Spires at Washington Pass.

It's a long climb but once you get to Washington Pass, your work is done. Take a few minutes to check out the short side trip to the Washington Pass overlook. After that, it's literally, all downhill back to Mazama. The descent can get chilly after all that uphill so bring a windbreaker.

Still feeling strong at Washington Pass and want more? Continue another 4 miles west towards Rainy Pass. Drop 1,000' towards Bridge Creek then a short 400' climb to Rainy Pass at 4,800'. Turn around and climb back up to Washington Pass. The Rainy Pass option will add 8 miles and approximately 1,500' of climbing.

Bonus early season are numerous roadside waterfalls. The ride up from Mazama to Washington Pass is exposed to the strong summer sun. Bring lots of water to stay hydrated.

The North Cascades Highway is closed in Winter and usually opens up in early May and closes around Thanksgiving. Snow can linger late into summer at higher elevations. Winds can sometimes blow east to west or west to east, depending on the difference in the weather on sides of the Cascades. An early start will reduce winds as they often pick up as the day wears on.

Read More

Tags

Fitness
Cycling
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Stay Nearby

Stehekin, Washington

North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin

The North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin is a 30-room Lodge and Cabins that has a full-service restaurant with outside dinning and bar area, gift shop, and store.

From $109/night

Rockport, Washington

Colonial Creek South Campground

Overview Colonial Creek South Campground in North Cascades National Park is a remote, yet bustling campground nestled in old growth forest. Located on the south side of State Route 20 near mile ma...

Cascade River Road

Marble Creek Campground

Overview Situated on the banks of the scenic Cascade River in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Marble Creek campground offers some of the most stunning scenery in the northern Cascade Range.Ca...

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike to the Tawlks Foster Suspension Bridge

    The pin above is a small gravel parking lot which is clearly marked as "Trail Head" from the road. Once you park you are within eye shot of an information station and the trail is marked as "Suspension Bridge Access." Walk past this sign and conti...

    2 miles 70 ft gain

  • Mult-Pitch Climbing in the Methow Valley

    It's 2.7 miles from the store. Park on the left side of the road, cross the street and follow the cairned trail straight up the hillside.Tucked up in the Methow (the h is silent) Valley east of the North Cascades in Washington lies the beautiful a...

  • Hike to the Goat Peak Lookout

    With fall coming quickly, that means larch fever. Views of the North Cascades, Methow Valley, and fall colors all at 7000 feet, doing the short hike of just over 2 miles up to the Goat Peak Lookout will not disappoint.The hike begins in a beautifu...

    5 miles 1400 ft gain

  • Cross-Country Ski the Rendezvous Huts

    During the winter months, there are few places in the country that are as isolated, picturesque and active as the Methow Valley, home to the western themed town of Winthrop and the tiny little town of Mazama.With over 200 kilometers of well-groome...