Cascade Trail

Washington

Cascade Trail Facts

States: Washington
Counties: Skagit
Length: 22.5 miles
Trail end points: Polte Rd. at Coffman Ln. (Sedro-Woolley) and S. Dillard Ave. (Concrete)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6055739
Trail activities: Bike, Fishing, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Cascade Trail Description

The 22.5-mile Cascade Trail—boasting 12 benches, 23 trestles, and two bridges made from repurposed railcars—-follows the Skagit River as it parallels State Route 20 into the Cascade foothills of northwest Washington (ending in Concrete). The trail, completed in 1999, claims its origins from the Great Northern Railway, which transported lumber and concrete during the 20th century. The mostly crushed-stone pathway runs through cultivated fields, open space, scattered woodlands, and river bottoms. The nearby river provides for some great fishing and nice river views, as well as scenic vistas of Sauk Mountain and other Cascade Range peaks.

You can start the trail in the outskirts of Sedro–Woolley at the Fruitdale Road intersection. A portable toilet is available at the trailhead. Here, you'll have the option of heading west for less than 1 mile of paved trail or east for 22 miles of crushed rock. After you've passed mile 14 and Lusk Road, consider heading south approximately 1 mile to the 169-acre Rasar State Park, a beautiful location for fishing, camping, and eagle spotting.

As you continue along the trail, note the beautiful backdrops of the region. Expect a couple detours; a little less than three-quarters of the way in, the trail diverts at Baker Lake Road onto a bridge walkway along SR 20, crosses Grandy Creek, and returns via Bird Dog Lane.

The trail ends at Concrete Senior Center (after passing concrete silos and crossing E Avenue). You'll find restrooms and water here. Cross the historic Henry Thompson Bridge, one of the longest single-span cement bridges in the West when it was built, to rest at the riverside picnic tables at the Baker River Project and Visitor Center.

Parking and Trail Access

To access the western end of the trail, take Interstate 5 to Exit 232/Cook Road. Head east on Cook Road for 4.3 miles. Take a left onto SR 20/SR 9, and drive 2 miles to Fruitdale Road. Turn right to the trailhead; there is easy trail access for horse trailers here.

To reach the Concrete trailhead from I-5, follow Cook Road 4.3 miles west. Turn left onto SR 20/SR 9, and follow it 23.9 miles. Turn left (north) into town on Douglas Vose III Way, and immediately turn right onto Railroad Avenue to the Concrete Senior Center.

To reach the midpoint Birdsview trailhead from Cook Road, follow SR 20 for 17.3 miles, and turn left onto Baker Lake Road. Find horse trailer parking at all trailheads.

Parking is also available in Lyman and by Challenger Road, which parallels SR 20 for 2 miles in Concrete. Skagit Transit (SKAT) stops at four points near the trail, enabling users to access shorter stretches. Find the bus schedule online.

Cascade Trail Reviews

As of Sept 4, 2017 the landslide blocking the trail west of Concrete had still not been cleared. Try as we might we were unable to find a trailhead with a portapotty in the vicinity of Challenger Crossing. There's supposed to be one there.

The trail is quite flat and the scenery is lovely, so for those two key elements it is an excellent trail. But the surface condition is so bad that it detracts from the enjoyment. It would take very little effort to correct most of these problems. Maintenance on this county trail seems to entail throwing down piles of loose gravel. Even the widest tires will sink into loose pea gravel with no stone dust, so you have to be constantly alert to these wide areas. It doesn't help that these areas occur more frequently at road crossings. Also, the barricades at road crossings are unneccessarily enormous and positioned in a way that you cannot easily get around them. riding around the outside can be done at alot of them, but it's not consistent. The barricades could be unlocked and opened just a little more so a cyclist could ride through, while still blocking road traffic. As it is, there are too many crossings to have to stop and walk through 2 of these at every side street. The area at mile 4.8, near Minker Creek, is abominable. The ladt straw for us was how rough the trail got as we approached Hamilton. We finally gave up and turned around before we got to town. We typically ride 12 to 14 mph on good stone trails, but we were reduced to 8 mph for this trail.

talked with a Skagit Parks employee last week, and he said that the landslide blocking the trail west of Concrete is due to be removed in the next week or two

Accordion

Rode this trail over Memorial Day weekend. The weather was lovely, but sadly the trail was blocked about 1/2 mile east of Challenger Rd. There was a landslide and a large tree is blocking the trail. You can't go over ,under or around the tree. Apparently, you can ride up Challenger Rd and get back on the trail. Check a map, before you. do this. Trail needs a bit of cleanup. lots of horse pucks in the middle of the trail.

My wife and I recently rode this trail and found a little too rough for cyclo cross bikes the scenery was indeed spectacular but switched over to SR20 on the way back which was much better. The road has a nice wide shoulder and we felt safe.i would imagine that horseback riding or cross country skiing would be much better. When in Sedro Woolley you should pop in to the market store on Metcalfe street. They have a little bit of everything

My husband I and started riding from Sedro-Woolley. Part of the trail is paved inside the city limits. Again, we had the trail mostly to ourselves. We rode fat tire bikes and had no difficulty riding the trail surface.We turned around at the bridge over Wiseman Creek,as the trail got a bit rougher and narrower.
Two suggestions: Park on Metcalf near the Police/Fire station.[It is the first street on your right after going under the trestle on Hiway 20] There are public restrooms 1 block away, in downtown.south of the Police station.Secondly, have lunch at Coconut Kenny's in downtown Sedro Wooley. Perfect end to the day!

We were camping at Rasar State park, so it was easy to jump on the trail, riding east to Concrete. I basically had the trail to myself, only meeting 2 ladies who were walking. I rode a hybrid bike, and had little difficulty with the trail surface. A must visit in Concrete is the 5B's bakery at the west end of Concrete.It is a delightful eatery that has made from scratch, gluten free, absolutely delicious treats.Worth every calorie!
Sadly, as I was heading back to Rasar, I smelled/saw smoke and heard crackling in the brush between Highway 20 and the trail.I called 911 to report. A brush fire burned an area just west of Baker Lake road. The trail is open, as far as I know. The round trip from Rasar state park to Concrete and back is just shy of 20miles.
Of note, SKAT[Skagit Area Transit] operates a small bus between the Park and Ride in Sedro-Wooley and Concrete. The bus has a bike rack, so you can ride up the hill to Concrete in the bus and pedal down.

I have ventured out onto this trail at least 20 times in the last year on my hybrid bicycle, having rode it's entirety twice, usually doing 15-20 miles. The grade is railroad, so it's extremely flat, which allows me to keep my speed up and workout consistent. I have seen others complain about dogs here in the reviews - have not once been chased or otherwise bothered by a dog. The trail does become quite empty towards the last 10 miles, so be prepared for self sufficiency. A great stop for a food break is birdsview burgers. Of course Concrete has some great eats to if you intend to make the whole journey. The break away from roads at various points is nice and I have always enjoyed the scenery, especially in the late summer and fall. Overall great trail and it's well maintained.

Beautiful scenery. Easy grades on old railway.
Too much loose gravel, crushed rock is too large, several holes and bumps. One very bad spot where there is flood damage. The two detours are easily managed.
Very uncomfortable ride on a trail bike. Road bikes should stick to the county roads and SR 20.

Rode the trail East to West in two days of geocaching. The first day we started in Concrete and slowly made our way west stopping every 10th of a mile or so to find a geocache. The weather was decent but with enough hint of rain to keep the crowds away - I think between Concrete and Hamilton we only saw 4 or 5 people.

Recent spraying has turned areas of single track width trail back to a full width grade, although it might be prudent to avoid the dead blackberry vines sticking well out from both sides. This trail is certainly not fast, but it is a very pleasant ride for bikes with wider tires. We did see one guy on a road bike, but I would imagine he had a bit of a challenge in places. I would suggest at least a hybrid for this trail.

Around Hamilton, it was feeling like beer thirty, so we quit caching and rode down to the very unique Lyman Tavern for burgers and drinks before catching a bus back to our hotel in Sedro Woolley. Next morning, we pedaled up the trail from the start in Sedro Woolley up to where we left off caching in Hamilton, and worked our way back all the way west. Eastbound, we fought a 20 mph headwind with stronger gusts, but by midday the sun came out and the wind died, and it was beautiful.

This is a very scenic trail this time of year, and in spite of highway noise, it often feels very rural. The trail is currently full width the entire way except for one .25 mile section through the (hike a bike) swamp where it narrows down to singletrack. In a couple of places this section was a little soft, and there was evidence of past flooding. But for us, the trail was easy traveling the entire way, with a couple of short detours hardly worthy of note.

Overall, this is a very well-maintained trail, and I would love to ride it again, probably doing it in a single shot next time without the (very fun) distraction of 130 geocaches along the way.

We rode the middle 10 miles on a Sunday afternoon in September and only saw one other person. There were two episodes of dogs chasing us as well as the previously mentioned buffalo and elk. The trail is close to the road, but not so close as to be visually a problem, but you do hear road noise. We encountered two places without bridges requiring that you detour a short way on the road.

We enjoy riding on hard gravel trails, speed is not our goal. The surface was in reasonably good shape and overall, I enjoyed it enough to do it again.

Pretty nice ride except that the gravel really slowed me down. I read somewhere abbout wild dogs and it came true! Twice dogs chased me and I barely got away! Really gave me a fright. They weren't truely "wild" , just somebodys dogs living nearby trail. But still they did present themselves as wild and lethal.

Rode in summer of 2013. Easy ride, seems to be well maintained. Didn't run into any dirt bikes or water. Goes through farmland mainly. Surface is compact gravel. As it is an old train bed it is mainly flat and straight.

My husband and I thought we had found a great place to walk and get exercise. The trail itself is great...but the horses and dirt bikes were terrible. Horse excrement and exhaust and dust from the dirt bikes was really unappealing. Don't plan to use the trail anymore. We looked forward to a relaxing place...not so.

My wife and I rode our mountain bikes from Sedro Wooley to Concrete on a warm summer day. The trail was in great shape and very dry but not dusty. We would guess that 75% of the trail was in the shade. The weather report stated that there would be a 10 mph west wind at 11 am so we rode east on the 3% railroad grade. The wind didn't start until we finished the ride. We saw one small coyote, a herd of buffalo, and a herd of elk. We had lunch at the bakery in Concrete and caught the bus at the post office back to our car. Next time we will start in Concrete and ride west. Few riders and hikers on the trail. No horses.

We just rode the entire trail from Concrete to Sedro Woolley (after riding the S.Skagit Hwy from Sedro Woolley to Concrete) and the trail was fabulous. There was of course the water mentioned on the trail when in the wetlands area but it was only an inch or so for 50 feet? and then a bit deeper of a pool at the end before done. We had fun, trail was nice. We have pics on a blog http://tandemriding.blogspot.com/2012/07/cascade-railtrailold-skagit-highway-50m.html.

It has been three years or so since the TrailBear was on the Cascade Trail. Last time there was concern that the encroaching blackberry vines would close the trail. In places the normally spacious trailbed was down to about 3' in the center.

Park at the Lyman City Park (good restrooms - which is rare on this trail) and head towards the swamp to check on three things - status of brushing, did the Skagit cut the trail yet, what about the passage across the swamp?

THE TRAIL HAS BEEN BRUSHED...
Can't answer for the rest of it, but this section between the swamp and Hamilton has been brushed and sprayed. It is wide open. There are dead vines that got a dose of herbicide and stumps of vines that got a does of mower. Some of this appears to be recent - heavy tire tracks on the shoulders. Grass (mowed) is coming up in the sunny sections, turning the trail into a double track. The shady sections are wide open.

DID THE SKAGIT CUT THE TRAIL...
This is a concern in the Lyman area as the Skagit runs hard against the trail. Being on the cutting side is never a good idea. You can't win. The trail appears to have been cut in one area, but it has been repaired. There is new gravel and a barrier of stumps and snags in the river at the repair. Wonder how that will work.

WHAT ABOUT THE SWAMP...
Still an open question. Arrive at the eastern end of the swamp to find some inches of water on the trailbed. It is coming down a section of puncheon tread, then spilling onto the trail and quickly draining off. This sounds like a plugged drain or design flaw. Normally it will be a drain plugged with debris.

Last time in the Hike a Bike swamp it was on a mountain bike that had to be walked across on flood gravels and sand. Now the TrailBear is mounted on a touring trike that likes a better trail than a flooded section. Must have been a wet spring. Lot of water in the Skagit right now.

SOMETHING NEW - POT HOLES...
Watch out for potholes in the crown of the trail in this section. These were not here in '09 or '10. They are often hidden in the grass and range from depressions to straight sided sink holes. They don't look like animal burrows. Something happening to the fill on the trail? Bikes who keep to one or the other single tracks should have no issues. These are at the apex of the crown.

TRAILBEAR HAS THE SLOWS...
So, what is with the 5.8 average speed? We know TB is slow, but this slow? His average is usually 7-8 mph. However, that is on blacktop. This is a gravel trail, which appears to knock a good 2 mph off the speed. It is faster on a mountain bike. It is far more comfortable on a trike. No pain in the rump, wrists, neck, etc. No pain, period. Solution: find a faster trail.

Ride down towards Hamilton. Get bored. Swamps and grass, swamps and grass. Allergies. Endless tears. About face and head for Costco and shopping. The destination trail around here is the Snohomish Centennial one county south. Black top, good facilities, etc. The next on the destination list is the Bellingham Interurban, one county north.

Trike on,

TrailBear
Getting bored upon the Cascade Trail



To: TrailLink Webmaster
Please do not intersperse my photos among the existing ones. Post them together and in the correct sequence in which they are numbered.

This is a detailed exploration of the entire length of the Cascade Trail from Concrete to Sedro-Woolley. Miles are in (parentheses), GPS coordinates are in {braces} and numbers in [brackets] refer to the images posted herewith. Although a trip report by toolbear posted on August 27, 2009 already contained some nice pictures, I have added another 22 more up to date and geo-coded pictures with this report covering the entire length of the trail. This is a trip report on taking the public transportation bus from Sedro-Woolley to Concrete and a one-way bicycle ride from Concrete to Sedro-Woolley (downhill but into a head wind). The frustrating part of the start of my bicycling adventure was trying to find the bus stop where SKAT Route 8/Route 117 stops eastbound, since this bus route does not follow SR20 while in town, but zig-zags through the neighborhood and the map at http://www.skagittransit.org/page-1412.html and in the printed timetable is too coarse to be useful. Coming on SR20 eastbound, I was led to believe that this bus stop is close to the Fruitdale/SR20 trailhead, when the actual start of the trail is further west on Polte Rd., separated from SR20 by an industrial/commercial complex and not visible from SR20. There is a parking place for 5 vehicles, a picnic table and a trail map at this mile post zero {N48.50914;W122.22413}. The bus stop I was looking for is about two blocks south of there at the corner of Township St. and Wicker Rd. [1] where it goes south on Township and and then turns east onto Wicker. As of May 2012, the SKAT Route 8/Route 117 runs five times on weekdays and twice on Saturdays. All busses have bike racks. I got off the Route 8 bus at the entrance to the town of Concrete where the bus route crosses the Cascade Trail just off SR20 and right next to the old cement silos. The bus continues, but I did not know where the next bus stop would be in the upper part of the historic town. From the silos you can ride the trail 0.6 miles to the actual eastern end of the trail at the Concrete Center, a senior center, and turn around {N48.53851;W121.75162} [2][3]. The railroad once continued further east to Rockport, but the condition of that RR grade is unkown. For those who are arriving in their own cars (and take the bus at the end of the day coming back up), there is plenty of parking at the Senior Center, but no facilities. There is a public toilet on Main Street across from Upper Skagit Library or you can visit the library facilities if you are there while the UpperSkagit Library is open.
Our mileage count for this trip report starts from the Senior Center (0.00). For railroad history buffs: at (0.19) next to the Post Office sits an old passenger railroad wagon {N48.53851;W121.75162} [4] which has seen better days, but now the windows are boarded up and the car is left to rot, sitting on a short section of track. This would make a perfect location for a snack bar and espresso stand. At (0.63) [5] you come past the old cement silos and begin the real trail adventure. A sign points to the Concrete Historic Byway and explains the history of the town and the silos [6]. There are no facilities at Silo Park (north of the silos) which is now a town park (not a county park). For the tired hiker and biker in need of a rest stop, there are at least 14 sitting benches every few miles along the entire length of this trail to sit down and rest and enjoy the view (only one of those benches had been vandalized). For the next 3 miles the trail is high above Highway 20 in the woods. At (3.05) {N48.54236;W121.80791} is a picnic table [7] above a vinyard. At (6.73) {N48.53327;W121.88358}, the bridge over Grandy Creek is gone, so one has to detour [8] for a few hundred yard and cross the creek on the busy highway bridge which does have a pedestrian sidewalk. At (6.92) {N48.53249;W121.88671} the trail crosses Baker Lake Road [9]. Baker Lake Road is the point of access to a very scenic recreational area including lakes for boating, fishing, swimming, camping, climbing, hiking, biking and a hot spring. Take a week off and explore it if you have the time. There are two types of mileage markers along the south side of the Cascade trail: the old square RR signs, black numbers on white background, and modern signs on plastic poles placed by Skagit County Parks, some even with GPS coordinates and elevation written in felt marker (but slowly fading in the weather). You cannot see these modern markers when you come from the east since they carry the mileage number only on the west side of the pole. The first one I noticed at (7.43) was mileage marker 16 {N48.53028;W121.89767} [10], which happened to be next to a narrow trail where one can scramble down the steep bank and cross the highway to go to Baker Lake Grocery for refreshments. As far as the old B&W RR mileage signs, I remember seing a 42 at Concrete and a 23 near Fruitdale. The two types of mileage markers are not co-located, but off-set. At (9.92) {N48.52406;W121.95027} [11] is a bridge over Alder Creek.
Approaching the SR20 crossing, a herd of about 20 beefalos [12] on a pasture to the north was stampeding when they saw me coming and they were racing me along the fence all the way to the west end of the pasture (they won). That was an exciting experience.
The crossing of SR 20 is at (10.67) {N48.52453;W121.96620} [13] and from now on the trail runs south of SR20, between the highway and the Skagit River. At (11.56) a section of trestle across a lilypad pond (an old riverbed oxbow) is missing and a barricade {N48.52515;W121.98528} [14] prevents us from going straight into the pond, requiring us to make a short <100 yards detour out onto Lyman-Hamilton Road. Somewhere between the lilypad lake and mile marker 11 we are crossing the 122nd Meridian as we travel west. For the next 3 miles one is tempted to trade the gravel trail for smooth asphalt pavement and use Lyman-Hamilton Road which parallels the trail to the "city" of Lyman. Supposedly, as described in Trail Bears earlier trip report, there is a city park in Lyman with facilities, but it is not evident from the trail where one has to leave the trail to visit this park (there are no signs along the trail). At 15.8, just past the RR 29 mile marker, starts a scenic stretch of trail with a nice view of the mighty Skagit River [15] [16] (Skagit River is the third largest River on the west coast of the U.S.). This area attracts hundreds of bald eagles in the winter that feast on spawned out salmon carcasses on the river banks. At (16.12) {N48.52373;W122.08213} is the most scenic bench [17] of the entire trail with a nice view of the river. The trail then leaves the river front view and enters a wetland section. At (18.17) {N48.52242;W122.12596} [18] a section of the trail that once was a puncheon boardwalk is flooded by 1-2 inches of water because a creek (Powell or Wiseman Creek?) has shifted its creekbed which was once further west and is now dry. After a washed out section and the dry creek crossing, for the next 2 miles the trail goes through open farmland and a wetland restoration project and at (22.23) {N48.51581;W122.21028} arrives at the Fruitdale Road trailhead [19] [20] which has lots of parking and a portable toilet. It seems most people parking here on weekdays are doing it for ride-share and are not trail users. At (23.03) {N48.50914;W122.22413} is the western terminus of the trail end with a picnic table [21] and a trail map [22] and enough parking for 5 cars. There is an undeveloped section of the old RR grade continuing west into town, but it is not yet rideable. Between Concrete and Sedro-Woolley, on this mid-week day I saw 3-4 parties walking on the trail and only one eastbound through-biker with four heavy panniers on his bike. If you do this ride as a one-way ride, you need to decide if you want to ride eastbound (uphill, elevation gain 160 ft.) or westbound (downhill). I thought riding downhill would be easier, but that was a big mistake. All day I had to struggle against a stiff west wind, which was worse than riding uphill. The prevailing wind direction in this area during fair weather is a west wind.

Skagit County has done a great job converting this RR grade to a multi-user trail. They chose the right size of gravel that packs well (and is easy to ride on with 1.95 inch mountain bike tires) and they converted a very large number (at least 20) trestles to well-designed, sturdy trail bridges. All blackberries along the trail were destroyed by spraying with herbicide in 2011 and only a few thimble berries got spared. All the washouts shown in previous pictures have been repaired and it is not necessary to walk any overgrown bypass trails. I did not see any portable toilets at the Baker Lake Road or Challenger Road access points.

For a description of the trail, illustrated with 12 photos, see
http://www.skagitcounty.net/Common/asp/default.asp?d=ParksAndRecreation&c=General&p=parks/cascadetrail.htm
and download the map at
ftp://ftp.skagitcounty.net/GIS/Documents/Parks/cas-trail.pdf
If I had looked at the lower left hand corner of the trail map beforehand, I would have seen that the bus stop of Route 117 is at Wicker and Township, and that would have saved me some frustration in planning for this bike ride. That map fails to show Rasar State Park.

The town of Concrete is well-named. Well, it was. Because of limestone minerals mined in nearby quarries, this small community in the Skagit Valley became a regional center of cement production. Beginning in 1905, portland cement was manufactured in the town from limestone and used to build the several dams that now generate hydroelectric power in the upper reaches of the Baker River and Skagit River. For the rock hounds and geology enthusiasts among us, see
http://nwgeology.wordpress.com/the-fieldtrips/baker-river-limestone-and-the-town-of-concrete-washington/ and for the history, see
http://concrete-wa.com/about-concrete/

If you want to make a loop trip instead of doing the back-and-forth or hitching a ride on the bus for one way, there is a potential of making a 60-mile loop by taking the South Skagit Highway, crossing the river on bridges in Concrete and on SR 9 in Sedro-Woolley. Another loop or Figure 8 trip is possible along SR20 but I would not want to ride on SR20 under any circumstances as suggested by other trip reports.

While I was in the area, my base camp was at the new Rasar State Park (which is not yet shown on older maps), which you can connect to by taking N. Russel Rd. off SR20 a bit east of the junction of Baker Lake Rd. and then on Capehorn Rd. going west. This is a beautiful park with an extensive trail system along the river and modern facilities, including rental cabins. The other connection from Rasar State Park back to the Cascade Trail is via Lusk Rd. or Pinelli Rd.

For up-to-date SKAT information, please note that the URL once listed on the RTC web site was incorrect. The correct URL is http://www.skagittransit.org/page-1412.html.

What better way to spend a day but on one of our state's fine rail trails. Easy to find trailhead in Cedro Wooley. Glad our car needed a wash because the parking lot is gravel. Great location right off Highway 20 at Fruitdale road. We unloaded our bikes and that sense of anticipation pulsed thru my body as I took my first pedal rotations. The sun was out and the trail starts out with a nice gravel foundation. Soon you are are on a tunnel like (with vegetation) path. The trail parallels highway 20 for a short distance but soon you are surrounded by farmland with a backdrop of towering foothills. There are many blackberry vines lining the trail but they are a non issue. We crossed many small bridges and stopped for numerous photo ops (100 pics +). Stopped along the high banks of the Skagit river for a pb + j and of course photo ops. The river is beautiful and this is where we saw three of the 10 people along the trail and these three were racing along in a river boat but gave a us both a hardy wave as they sped by. We did a quick tour of sleepy Lyman, WA and then jumped back on trail. We had a late start so we only rode 13 miles east on the well maintained trail before turning back. We will definitely return soon to ride the entire trail. There was a washed out bridge but all you had to do was get on Lyman Hamilton Hwy (small country road really) for about 30 yards or so and then back on the trail. We highly recommend this trail to all levels of riders and will return soon. Happy trails!


Into the Hike-a-Bike Wetland and beyond.

08/26/2009

This section of the Cascade Trail was different. It’s a nice ride with a wetland in the middle of it.
In the other two sections we have had various washouts of the trail bed and a pair of bridges. Here we seem to have a wash-on of flood gravels onto a portion of the trail bed. That or Skagit County, which cannot afford to remove the blackberries crossing the trail, dumped a foot of gravel down hundreds of feet of the trail bed. Rather doubt that. Gravel costs $$$.

Aside from that 0.2 mile stretch, it was a nice ride on a hard-packed one lane gravel road. I could almost imagine being back down south again with the trees overarching the trail. All that was lacking was the Spanish Moss. Try it when the leaves turn. It should be great. Try it when the rains come and the swamp floods. It should be interesting. Tell us about it.

The ride started at the Fruitdale Trailhead in Sedro-Woolley (SR 20 x Fruitdale Rd.) and headed east to the Lyman City Park. (“City” is a bit much for Lyman. Doubt there are 500 people in the hamlet.) It was an Out N Back ride. Next time, I will stage at Lyman. The park there is far more pleasant than the Fruitdale Trailhead and offers water, modern flushies and a picnic shelter.

There are a few bridges on this section of the trail. Coming back, I was marking waypoints in the GPS at every bridge and making verbal notes in a digital voice recorder. Stop, mark, record, ride. It worked well. I sat down at the trail head, downloaded the digital notes into the field log and counted them up. From Lyman City Park to Fruitdale, I counted eleven bridges and one section of puncheon.

@@@ THE HIKE-A-BIKE WETLAND…
.
It is clear sailing from either Fruitdale or Lyman to the wetland west of Minkler Lake and east of Hoehn Rd. at GPS: N48 31.357 W122 07.864. This appears to be the drainage of the Powell or Wiseman Creek. Both names appear on the Garmin map. Previous reviews have noted the rough going on this section of trail, so I was curious to see what was going on. Check out the photos. Looks like the creek flooded. But when? Last big flood here was 2003. The folks that live on the river got to live in the river.

Coming from Fruitdale you encounter flood gravels east of Hoehn Rd, then a curious bridge which appears to be built on a truck trailer bed. The bridge leads to a very poorly constructed bypass trace. Serious “hack” work. Stumps are sticking up out of it and the far end is choked with blackberry vines. You need a brush cutter to make it through. Eschew this option. Use the trail bed.

The bypass runs for about 500’, and then dumps you back onto the rail road bed. I did this in August in the dry season and it was dry thick brush. If you are here in the spring, when the creeks are high, you are probably in trouble. It may well be impassable. There is a highway sign posted there – Water Over Roadway. They know something. If there was a creek bed, it is now filled with gravel. Be warned.

I mounted up and tried to ride. Good for a few yards, then the front tire sank into a patch of soft gravel and stoped. The rest of the bike, ToolBear attached, wanted to continue forward. Yes, the classic Endo In Progress. However, it was at low speed and Der Bear was off that bike in a flash, so no Endo. Push the bike a bit, then try again. Same thing, again. Duh!

Der Bear got da picture. Hike-a-Bike time. He hiked the bike down the trail to a length of puncheon. From there the trail bed resumes and the ride goes well up to the Lyman City Park. This Hike-a-Bike section extends for about 0.2 miles east of that curious bridge to the puncheon portion.

The dry season solution to this section of trail is to dismount at the bridge or puncheon and hike your bike down the trail bed until you encounter firm riding, then mount up and carry on. I did this coming back and it went well. Do stay out of that vile bypass, if possible.

In the Wet, if the wetland is impassable, head up Hoehn Rd. to SR 20 and pedal east until you encounter the Lyman-Hamilton Rd. Take it east until you hit Robinson Rd. Turn right and take Robinson south to hit the trail east of Minkler Lake. Lyman City Park is 1.1 miles east of you. If desired, you can do a loop trip with one leg on SR 20, which has 4’ shoulders and good riding.

Once past the wetland, the next feature is Minkler Lake. Lake? Not hardly. Don’t expect to see happy water skiers. Swamp is more like it. This is really an old slough that is mostly a bog now and well on the way to becoming a meadow. The Minkler Lake Bridge – the longest one on the trail – crosses a lead of water that is well choked with water plants.

Aside from the wetland section – which adds the element of adventure – this was a nice ride. All those bridges added interest. If you want a loop of about 22 miles, take the trail from Fruitdale to SR 20 Xing and then ride SR 20 back to Fruitdale.

@@@ DO IT AGAIN???
Sure. It was a pleasant and interesting ride. I will miss the fall foliage ride and the winter or spring swamp crossing, because I will be down working in California during the Wet. However, check it out and file a review and pictures with Trail Link. How impassable is that swamp in spring? Float-a-bike?

@@@ STATS…
Fruitdale Trailhead to Lyman City Park
Total miles – 7.05, Max speed – 14.3, Moving average – 8.7, Total ascent – 66’, Max elevation – 84’

@@@ TRAIL SCORE…
On the ToolBear Triple Trail Rating Scale: C +, B,

C + = Facilities. Fruitdale has a gravel parking lot, a portaloo and a bench. The next trailhead east, Helmick Rd., just has parking on gravel. Lyman City Park, which is not part of the trail, has parking, flushies, shelters, tables and horseshoe rings. Give it an A.

B = Trailbed. Not bad riding. Mostly hardpacked gravel. The swamp crossing and some bits of blowout repair get Ds. The bridges are in good shape. The blackberry vines are a real maintenance issue. The whole trail needs a brushing with chain flails.

B = Scenery. Above average. The bridges are the main element of interest here. There were eleven of them between Fruitdale and Lyman.

Ride on!
ToolBear








CASCADE TRAIL, SKAGIT COUNTY, WA

The Seven Bridges Road Sector – Minkler Lake…Lyman…Hamilton… SR 20

“On the seven bridges road I go.”

8/22/09


This is probably the most interesting sector of the Cascade Trail.

Check it out on Google Earth (Search: “Lyman, WA”). What you see there are the old meanders and ox bows of the Skagit River’s former channels wandering across the flood plain. Some are still sloughs. Some are fields, but you can see the swirls on the earth.

From Minkler Lake – really a vegged-up slough – to the trail crossing at State Route 20, about 6.6 miles east, the trail crosses creeks and sloughs on seven bridges. Much of the trail runs in shade beneath over-arching hardwoods. In fall, when the leaves turn, this should be a very colorful ride.
The trail bed here is basically a single lane gravel road, mostly well compacted and good riding.

There are spots where blowouts from the floods have been repaired with large rock. Here you have short rock gardens to traverse. Numerous horse apple landmines add an element of adventure and encourage picking a good line to avoid flying poop. (There is a reason ToolBear has fenders on his mountain bike. He needs one on his water bottle.)

Since there are no trailheads on this sector, I staged out of the Lyman City Park (GPS: N48 31.616 W122 04.113) on the Lyman-Hamilton Rd. just east of the elementary school and across from the cemetery on the bend. Good choice. This is a nice little park about five hundred feet from the trail. It has parking, water, a picnic shelter, a BBQ shelter and a pair of modern unisex flush toilets. If the small gravel parking lot is filled, pull in along the edges of the park, as the locals do.

Today was a horse shoe tournament of some sort. When I arrived there were two men tossing horse shoes. When I returned there was a caterer at the BBQ shelter, cars and trucks pulled in all around the park and people everywhere having a good time.

Once on the trail, I headed west to Minkler Lake (2.06 miles) to see the trail along the Skagit. There are good views of the river and some blowout repairs. The trail is on the wrong (cutting) side of the river, so expect this portion to vanish sooner rather than later. The river is right there.

Once at Minkler Lake, reset the GPS log and head east to SR 20 down the “Seven Bridges Road.” It’s a fun ride back through Lyman, over Jones Creek, Manser Creek, Red Cabin Creek, Davis Slough and Nameless Creek to the washed out trestle detour east of Petit St. (GPS: N48 31.514 W121 59.197). (Yes, that’s five bridges – plus a pair toward Minkler Lake.)

The trestle over this slough went in the 2003 floods. Pity. It was a long one. The Google Earth pix (2006 ?) showed a row of naked pilings across the slough and an intact bridge deck upstream or upslough half on the bank. If it washed the deck off those pilings, one suspects that all the streets below the road toward the river were well under water. If I lived in those bottoms, I’d live on a houseboat moored to pilings in the yard.

I thought I was going to get some great shots of the wreckage. Dream on. Got there and the slough was bare. Someone or thing has removed all the pilings and the bridge deck. You can pedal out to the fences at either end, then backtrack 170’ or so and look for the gravel path taking you out to the Lyman – Hamilton Rd. for a 600’ detour.

Did the detour, got back on the trail and headed for SR 20, about 0.9 miles away. From SR 20 it’s about 3.6 miles across the fields to the next trailhead up at Baker Lake Rd. and it doesn’t look that interesting. Certainly not as interesting as the Seven Bridges Road sector of the Cascade Trail.

@@@ DO IT AGAIN???
Certainly. This was an interesting ride. (ToolBear loves bridges, tunnels and trestles.) A fall autumn color ride should be worthwhile. A ride from Lyman City Park to the Fruitdale Trailhead and back would be nice.

@@@ STATS…
Minkler Lake Slough to SR 20
Total miles – 8.89, Max speed – 13, Moving average – 7.3, Total ascent – 84’, Max elevation – 121’

@@@ TRAIL SCORE…
On the ToolBear Triple Trail Rating Scale: C -/B/B

C - = Facilities. What facilities? There are no designated trailheads or restrooms in this sector.

B = Trailbed. Not bad riding. Mostly hardpacked gravel. Some bits of blowout repair get a D. The bridges are in good shape. The blackberry vines are a real maintenance issue. The whole trail needs a brushing with chain flails.

B = Scenery. Above average. The bridges are the main element of interest here.

Ride on!
ToolBear

The Cascade Trail: Concrete to the Baker Lake Rd. Trailhead

“It’s not a trail – it’s an adventure!

8.16.2009

ToolBear is off again on one of his “AM - Ride: PM - Shop” rail trail excursions. This time its way out to Concrete on SR 20 to do the furthest section of the Cascade Trail.

Three landslides, two washouts – one about 95% of the trail bed – assorted blow down, horse apple land mines, blackberry creepers creeping across the trail. Not a problem. Treat it like a mountain bike single track and pick a good line. What a change from those namby-pamby blacktop trails. The trails signs were right. It is a primitive trail out here in the back end of Skagit County.

Aside from the damaged areas, the majority of the trail bed is in good shape. It tends to be 3/8 minus rock, well compacted and good riding. The loosest part, curiously, is right in Concrete.
What it really needs is some competent maintenance, or just maintenance. Need to cut the blackberry vines back or they will be across the trail this fall. Need to cut the grass in the trail. Need to chainsaw the blow down and remove same. As Skagit County is not rich, this is probably not going to happen soon. Just look at the old reviews and their comments on maintenance.

At the landslides in the cliffy area west of Concrete they just blew through the debris instead of clearing the whole trail bed or even cutting down to grade. Now water ponds in the cuts, so there are various duck boards and bits of tree limb to keep you out of the slop. Tippy toe across with the bike riding on a second board.

The washouts look like what happens when culverts get stuffed with debris. Water ponds, goes over the top, cuts down and down and down. At the major washout by Challenger Rd. (N48 32.518 W121 49.199) the culvert is now about 200’ down the debris plume. This was passable on a narrow bit of trail at the inside. Doubt it will survive Winter 2009.

When it goes, backtrack to Challenger Rd. and ride around the washout. There are links between the trail and the road in various places. Other option – down to SR 20, which has 4’ shoulders (nice riding) and detour until you hit a road heading up hill. It will cross the trail.

We parked the van at the end of the trail – the Senior Center in Concrete (GPS: N48 32.309 W121 44.898). What a nice parking lot – thick shade and a creek running down the middle. The center was closed on Sunday, so there went the restrooms and water. However, there is a public loo (concrete block building) on the street just above the Senior Center. Gear up, put the bike together, install the earbuds, crank up the music and head west.

(Shameless Gear Plug: Topeak handle bar bag. It really works well. I carry all my survey gear in the bag – camera, note book, pens, four power bars and spare GPS batteries. It comes with a fitting for the GPS in front of the bag. Recommend it. The spare tube, inflators, tools, emergency gear, spare water and such go in another Topeak bag on their luggage rack attached to the seat tube. Like that one too.)

The trail leaves town and enters a cliffy area where the trail bed is pinched between the hills and river. Soon you meet the first landslide – and it’s a big one – all the way to the top. Press on. There are two more slides, two washouts and assorted uncleared blow down in this section.

There is also a new pocket park athwart the trail at GPS: N48 32.538 W121 48.411 behind the Challenger Ridge Winery. Picnic tables, benches, a great view and who knows what is next. They were still unloading picnic tables. Power and water have been installed. Can we hope for a water point and parking? Stay tuned.

As the hills recede and you move out onto the flats, you encounter a unmapped trailhead at the Challenger Crossing Rd. (GPS: N48 32.483 W121 50.300). It has the first porta loo since Concrete and rather ad-hoc parking. Press on across the flats to the Grandy Creek detour. Looks like a permanent one, as they have a sign up and TrailLink shows the jog on their map.

You cross the creek on SR 20 to the parking lot for the Baker Lake Rd. trailhead and then up to the trail head itself. About 100’ west beyond the trail gate is another portaloo. Look east and you see the trail bed is totally overgrown. I suspect a bridge over the creek is gone – hence the detour.

This was my end point. The trip back to Concrete was done on SR 20 – which is a faster ride - just full of cars and trucks. It made a nice loop trip. Pack up the bike and head for Burlington and shopping.

@@@ ToolBear’s Triple Scale Trail Rating Scale (F-A)…

Trail bed ( where maintained) = B. Where not = D. Crushed stone – mostly 3/8” Minus – which rides well.

Scenery = C+ This sector is mainly a forest ride, so lots of shade and not much in views other than trees up close. The sectors closer to Sedro Woolley and I-5 and population are probably better. They are on the schedule for riding.

Facilities = C It’s not the Row River Trail one state south, or the Centennial Trail one county south. Class A facilities require deep pockets. None here.

@@@ Ride it again?
This sector - not anytime soon. BTDT. Given the commute distance from Anacortes to Concrete, I get more bang for the buck in Bellingham or on the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County.

@@@ Ride Stats…
Concrete to Baker Lk. Rd. on the Cascade Trail
Total Mileage 7.61, Max Speed 14.5, Moving Time 1:05, Average Speed 6.9, Total Ascent 147’, Max Elevation 284’

Baker Lk. Rd to Concrete on SR 20
Total Mileage 6.88, Max Speed 21.8, Moving Time 0:38, Average Speed 10.8, Total Ascent 158’, Max Elevation 245’

Ride on…
ToolBear



"Four of us biked the entire (23.5 miles) trail from Sedro Woolley to Concrete on 7-11-06. In general it is a nice ride but in need of maintenance. There were two ""missing"" segments which gave us some confusion. At about mile 4.5 Wiseman Creek has washed out a portion of the trail. You cross a wooden bridge and the trail becomes very narrow, muddy and overgrown with brush. There is a sign saying ""trail under water"" but after pushing our bikes 30 or 40 yards the brush became so thick we couldn't believe we were still on the trail so we backtracked and ended up riding out to Highway 20 and took the Lyman-Hamilton road into Lyman. There we met a county ranger who told us that the trail does continue where we turned back--we just gave up too early. Apparently some of the locals objected to the trail so re-routed Wiseman Creek so it washed the trail away. The ranger gave us some advice which helped later. As you enter Hamilton there is a big plant on the left which produces some kind of a brick product. Straight ahead is a washed out bridge. At the paved street turn right a short distance, then left for 50 or 60 yards, crossing the stream, then cut back to the trail and continue.

From mile 12 to Concrete the trail is very close to Hiway 20 and there was quite a bit of traffic noise. But the last few miles were above the hiway so the the noise was less, and the riding quite nice.

We had no dog encounters, as reported last June, but did encounter quite a few blackberry bushes on the trail. I had a brush cutter and cut quite a few back, but more maintenance is needed. I'd rate this trail as ""5"" on a scale of 10. "

We encountered quite a few loose and aggressive dogs along the trail. Trail needs to be advertised a bit more -- during 2 days we’ve met 6 people bicycling.

"This is an excellent linear trail from Sedro Wooley to Concrete! Watch out for blackberry vines on trail. The trail needs to maintained. This hazard should be removed.

Resistance to this trail must have been somewhat high, since I noticed a landowner had posted a sign referring to corrupt politicians. Evidently the Skagit County politicians are supportive of rail-trails!

-Russ"

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