Mountain Loop Highway

Experiencing The Mountain  Loop Highway,
A Forest Road Drive With Unsurpassed Beauty & Rich History!

Starting off on the Mountain Loop Highway from Darrington, photo by Martha Rasmussen

The Mountain Loop Highway is a 54 mile scenic corridor along the Glacier Peak, Henry M. Jackson and Boulder River wilderness areas. The road is paved to the White Chuck Forest Road then turns into a single lane gravel road with turn outs for 14 miles.  When you reach Barlow Pass you will experience potholes due to late melting snow, then around the bend and back on to paved road. The road opens in the springtime offering a real treasure hunt of wildflowers, and the forest is vibrant with newly opening leaves.

Early springtime in the forest, photo by Shari Brewer

In the summer months, as the higher elevation snow melts, the Mountain Loop offers an array of waterfalls, both along the scenic drive and also on the many hiking trails accessed from the the Mountain Loop Hwy.  There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails winding through old growth forest, traversing mountain slopes to scenic vistas and old fire lookout sites for great views of surrounding mountains and the rivers below.

The South Fork Sauk River, photo by Nels Rasmussen,D.C.

You can take your time driving this scenic byway and explore the multitudes of hiking opportunities.  There are several campgrounds and also primitive camping sites along the South Fork Sauk River on the Mountain Loop Highway, North Fork Sauk River on the Sloan Creek forest service road #49, and the White Chuck forest service road #23.  For more information see the Mount-Baker Snoqualmie National Forest website.

Monte Cristo Lake in autumn, photo by Martha Rasmussen

In autumn the leaves turn into a pageant of colors making the Mountain Loop a wonderful annual tradition.  As the leaves drop from the trees and shrubs you can see
 eagles along the rivers and views of majestic mountains and waterfalls open up from the road.  Just as much as the Mountain Loop Highway is a beautiful drive, it is also a very historical road traveling east from Granite Falls along the South Fork Stillaguamish River to the mining towns of Silverton,  Monte Cristo and Barlow Pass.  Once reaching Barlow Pass  the road bends heading north along the South Fork Sauk River then reaching Darrington a town rich in history.  

Red Rock Falls along the Mountain Loop Highway, photo by Nels Rasmussen, D.C.

The Mountain Loop Highway is subject to seasonal partial road closures, and it is gated during winter and early spring.  For road closures and condition updates go to the Mountain Loop Trip Planner.  Before you start your trip you may want to stop by the Darrington Ranger Station or the Verlot Ranger Station and purchase a map of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  If you plan to hike Forest Service Trails, many trails require a Northwest Forest Pass.