Trail Guide
Lakes, Rivers

Essential Gear

Find hiking, camping, and general backcountry supplies in our Essential Gear section. Click on Shop
Tools and Resources

SNOW REPORT: View listings of Washington State's top areas for Ski / Snowboarding

FOREST SERVICE: Washington State National Parks and Forests and Phone Numbers for Washington State Forest Service and National Parks

INTRODUCTION: Seattle Recreation and the North Cascades

Mountain Biking Biking
in the North Cascades and Surrounding Areas

Highway 2 Biking
Highway 20 / North Cascades Highway Biking
Mountain Loop Highway Biking
Mt. Baker Highway Biking

By Robert Rousseau, Copyright © 2008,

The North Cascades and surrounding areas offer mountain biking and road biking at nearly every turn. In fact, if you think you've witnessed scenery and tranquil beauty before while on your bike, then consider taking a trip out to Washington State, drive along Highway 2 and the Stevens Pass area, and try it out. Guess is that you'll see things you never have before while biking in the area. Let's face it, people: the North Cascades mountains are the place to be.

Mountain Biking opportunities in the North Cascades (please note that we are going to focus on the Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie Pass areas).

Amabilis Mountain in Cle Elum, WA: This 11.2 mile trek is has some demanding aspects of it during the climb. That said, beyond a couple of miles, for most of the ride you'll find yourself on firm gravel and some dirt. The second half of the trip will be mostly downhill.

As was stated earlier, there is a portion of climbing Amabilis Mountain that is quite demanding.

Johnson Ridge Trail: If you're a beginner, don't go here. Repeat: if you're a beginning mountain biker, don't go to Johnson Ridge Trail. This 4.1 mile trek is only for advanced riders. It starts off on loose gravel and only gets more difficult, technical, and hilly from there.

But if you want a challenge, then do some background work on this one. In fact, don't leave for it until you've done some background work.

We're talking about advanced bike riding here in the North Cascades.

Kachess Ridge in Easton, WA: If you're looking for a long, steep climb that goes single track eventually, then Kachess Ridge, just east of Snoqualmie Pass, is for you. What's more, eventually you'll find yourself riding in beautiful country across meadows and streams.

Kachess Ridge Loop in Easton, WA: This is a long, steep ride with some dangerous and eroded switchbacks. In other words, beginners may choose to steer clear. That said, there are some stunning mountain meadows and views of Mount Rainier and Kachess Lake along the way.

In other words, it's as beautiful as everything else in the area.

Silver Creek in Index, WA: This is the trail for you if you like history and beautiful falls. Of course, it's really not for inexperienced mountain bikers. Rather, you're probably talking intermediate here.

The trail used to be a forest road that ran parallel to Silver Creek but an avalanche took care of that. Still, those with interest in mining way back in the day and geology will love this trail.

Wallace Falls Loop in Goldbar, WA: Wallace Falls Loop is flexible. In other words, beginning, intermediate, and advanced riders can all find something for them on it. The trail starts out gradually on trail and logging roads with the first destination in sight being Wallace Lake. Is there a climb? Yes. But if you can make it up, it's a lot more fun coming down.

More experienced riders may choose to continue on and cross the Wallace River. But that's only for those that like cold and rather difficult challenges.

Wallace Falls State Park in Goldbar, WA: The bottom line on this trail is that it's straight and fairly easy. The destination? How about some beautiful falls? The only problem is that it takes awhile to get there.

But like most mountain biking opportunities in the North Cascades, Stevens Pass, and Snoqualmie Pass areas, it's worth it.

Iron Horse State Park and Snoqualmie Tunnel in Hyak, WA: The bottom line is that extreme mountain biking opportunities can be found in the North Cascades and North-Central Cascades area. For the purpose of this site, we think of the area of Snoqualmie Pass / Highway 90 as a "southern" area of the North Cascades. About the biking in this area, if you're a beginner some of the North Cascades' offerings just won't be for you. However, the Snoqualmie Tunnel-which is 2.3 miles in length on a flat and rather smooth gravel trail-is doable for a beginning mountain biker.


What About Extreme Mountain Biking?

Downhill Mountain Bike: There should be tons of downhill and extreme mountain bike riding in the North Cascades, but there's not. There is a lot of cross-country riding, and so we do cover that here.

If Granite Falls, WA can propose a motocross track, there's no reason property owners alongside the foothills of the North Cascades can't put in an extreme downhill track for mountain bikes.

Hint: There are tracks out there, but they're privately owned and you have to know someone in the know. If you spend time on the forums of Ride Monkey, you may get a hook up from someone with some connections.

Riding the Forest Service Roads

Cascade River Road - Cascade River Road is a logging road with access to North Cascades National Park. While biking isn't allowed on trails within the park, the large number of logging roads in the forest service lands outside the park provide excellent cross-country mountain bike riding.

If you map out your trip in advance, you can choose roads that cross creeks and rivers, as well as roads that will take you up to ridgelines, where you're sure to find excellent vistas.

Find a Hike in the North Cascades

Primitive Camping in the North Cascades
Hikes for Children - The Boulder River Trail
Highway 20 Hiking
Mountain Loop Highway Hiking
Mt Baker Highway Hiking
Highway 2 Hiking attempts to list hiking trails as we either trek them ourselves, have them recommended by friends or other readers, or read about them through other resources, such as books, news articles, and websites.

All content on this site is either the property of or belongs to one of our readers who has submitted either a trail review, article, or photo. For reprint requests, contact either the reader who has provided the content or use our contact form to contact one of our staff.

Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved.