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On The Loop: Stevens Pass Greenway

The Stevens Pass Greenway is not only one of the regions on the Cascade Loop National Scenic Byway, it is also a designated Scenic Byway in its own right. 

The 90-mile scenic byway follows Highway 2 and stretches from Monroe in Snohomish County through the Sky Valley, then over Stevens Pass (elevation 4,061 feet), down through the Tumwater Canyon, and just past Leavenworth in Chelan County

The landscape and environment changes from semi-urban to open river valley, lush evergreen forest and granite rock faces. You travel through several small communities as you begin the ascent over Stevens Pass. Don’t let their size fool you -- they each have amazing opportunities for lodging and dining, and more outdoor recreation than you might imagine! 

Sky Valley Visitor Information Center

Sultan

The first town you will come to in the Sky Valley is Sultan. The Visitor Information Center is the best place to pick up Discover Pass or Northwest Forest Pass, fishing or hunting licenses, Christmas tree permits, and more. Their great staff can help you with information about all your interests with maps and trail guides, and local insight.

If you need a sweet pick-me-up, the Sultan Bakery is one of our favorite stops in this region (with luck, they won’t be sold out of their Bigfoot Donuts!)

Sultan Dog Park, an off-leash area near Osprey Park, gives all the members of your traveling group a chance to stretch all their legs!

Osprey Park

Osprey Park is a visitor favorite -- 85 acres of forestland along the Sultan River with over two miles of wheelchair and stroller-friendly trails allowing exploration of this wildlife paradise. In summer you will see the namesake raptor, Osprey, nesting and raising their young. Waterfowl like wood ducks, bufflehead, and mallards also call this area home. You might also see black-tailed deer, beaver and racoons. The park also features a baseball field, basketball court, picnic tables and playground equipment for the whole family to enjoy.

This is also a prime salmon-viewing area! Odd years find the migration of Pink Salmon, when thousands of fish fight their way up the river to spawn. Visit Sultan on the last Saturday of September for the Return of the Salmon, -- a celebration of the cultural heritage of the Skykomish River Valley.

Wildlife Viewing

Startup

As the name says, this is where you “Startup” the mountain! But really folks -- the town was named after George G. Startup, a sawmill manager, in the early 1900’s. The town’s original draw was gold, found in nearby Sultan and Skykomish rivers, but it was the logging industry that ultimately populated the community.

Grab a burger at the iconic Alpen Drive In, or stop at one of the pubs along the highway.

If fishing is on your itinerary, Startup is the location of a state salmon hatchery on the Wallace River, and a popular bank access spot is nearby. This is the primary salmon hatchery that feeds the Skykomish River, which attracts anglers from around the state to harvest Coho Salmon in the fall, and Steelhead in the winter. 

Wallace Falls

Gold Bar

In the community of Gold Bar you can stock up on snacks and then head to the Wallace Falls State Park and its namesake three-tier, 265-foot waterfall. The 12 miles of foot trails, which are also great for snowshoeing, offer opportunities for a multitude of abilities. The falls are world-renowned which makes the trails very popular. Try to plan your hike for Monday-Thursday for the best experience. 

The Stevens Pass Snowboard Shop can hook you up with rental equipment so you can skip the lines at the ski hill. 

On the edge of the highway there is an off-leash park, perfect for a hop out of traffic to give offer relief to your four-legged travel companions. 

Sasquatch at Espresso ChaletIndex

The old mining town of Index is just off the beaten path of State Route 2. The one-mile jaunt into Index is our Side Trip for the Stevens Pass Greenway region. Learn more about this area by clicking here: Side Trip Index.

Just outside of town, plan a stop at Espresso Chalet for your favorite caffeinated beverage. You can take a selfie with Sasquatch at this iconic location, which was a shooting location of “Harry and the Hendersons” a 1987 family comedy with John Lithgow. Dr. Wallace’s character (played by Don Ameche) is an ‘expert’ on Bigfoot at the North American Museum of Anthropology (a rundown, nearly abandoned shack full of Bigfoot oddities) is the green hut you will find at Espresso Chalet (pictured).

Featured Lodging Property: The Bush House

Skykomish train ride

Skykomish

The City of Skykomish first came to be in the 1890’s when James J. Hill (the Empire Builder) extended his railroad to the Pacific Coast from Minnesota.  Today Amtrak's "Empire Builder" passes through west in the morning and east in the evening enroute between Seattle and Chicago.

The Cascadia Inn, an historic hotel and café built in the 1920’s as a boarding house is located here—a great place to grab an excellent, scratch-made diner-style meal served by friendly locals. 

On weekends from May through October the Skykomish Historical Society runs a small-scale train that takes passengers around a loop rail line through a small-scale replica of the Cascade Tunnel. The rides are free, and open to enthusiasts of all ages. 

For information about outdoor recreation on forest lands, contact Skykomish Ranger Station

Featured Property, Cascadia Inn

Winter Roadway Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass

Next up, ascend 4,061-foot Stevens Pass. The views are mind-blowing here year-round! The ski and snowboard resort operates during winter months. In the summer it transforms itself into a mountain bike park and scenic chairlift ride.

Be prepared to encounter snow when traveling in the winter! Check mountain pass conditions at wsdot.com/traffic/passes.

Two great chances to stretch your legs:

Iron Goat Trail: 6 miles round-trip; 700 ft. of elevation gain. Follows the railbed including through abandoned snow sheds, and the old Wellington disaster site. There are several access points. The Martin Creek access includes 3 miles of wheelchair and stroller friendly trail.  

Bygone Byways:  This easy 1.0-mile loop Interpretive Trail follows the original route of the Great Northern Railway.

Coles Corner

The Stevens Pass Scenic Byway continues through Leavenworth to Peshastin, but our designated region segment ends at Coles Corner, where Highway 209 meets US 2. From here you can stay on US 2 through the Tumwater Canyon to Leavenworth, or you can take 209 on a Side Trip to Plain and Lake Wenatchee

Wildlife & Birding
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Fish On!

Fish The Sky River!

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Climbing
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Hiking
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Rafting the Skykomish with Outdoor Adventure Center

Insider Scoop

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Plan Your Stevens Pass Greenway Adventure

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+ Destinations
      Lake Chelan Valley
      Leavenworth Cascade Foothills
      Methow Valley
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      Seattle
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      Stevens Pass Greenway
      Wenatchee Columbia River Valley
      Whidbey Scenic Isle Way
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