Washington state is known for its stunning natural beauty, and the Cascade Loop is the perfect way to take it all in. This 440-mile route takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Pacific Northwest.
The Cascade Loop begins at Stevens Pass, located east of Seattle. From here, you’ll head north through mountain passes, dense forests, and rolling hills until you reach Leavenworth, an adorable Bavarian-style village nestled in the Cascades.
Next, up is Chelan and its wineries, followed by the historic town of Winthrop with its Western-themed main street.
After that comes North Cascades National Park where you can explore rugged peaks and glacier-fed lakes before heading south on Highway 20 toward Burlington and Anacortes.
Visiting North Cascades National Park is high on everyone’s list as it offers breathtaking views and plentiful outdoor activities like hiking and fishing.
Another great spot to check out is Snoqualmie Falls which has an impressive 268-foot drop into a deep pool below – not to mention its stunning surroundings.
And lastly, no trip along this route would be complete without a visit to Leavenworth for some delicious German food and shopping in its charming alpine-style shops.
The best places to stay along this scenic trip are Leavenworth, Chelan, or Burlington. You can also do this loop in reverse, or in bits and pieces!
- Start: Seattle
- End: Seattle
- Number of miles: 440 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: Anywhere from 2 days to 5 days, depending on how many stops you want to make.
Activities and Attractions of Cascade Loop Scenic Drive
- Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour
Interactive exhibits and displays designed to provide an understanding and appreciation of technology as applied to the science of flight.
- Flying Heritage Collection
Historic aircraft, primarily from World War II.
- Mukilteo Lighthouse
This picturesque 1906 lighthouse offers exhibits and a gift shop and is open weekends and holidays, noon to five, April through September.
- Centennial Trail
This recreational trail, which runs 17 miles from Snohomish to Arlington, is suitable for walking and biking.
- Antique Shopping in Snohomish
You’ll find dozens of antique malls and shops, most within walking distance of each other.
Food in Everett/Snohomish
- Snohomish Bakery
Located along First Street in the historic shopping district, this cozy bakery offers wonderful bread and pastries, breakfast items, and pizza.
- Nana Carmela’s
This popular Italian family restaurant is located at the golf course in Monroe.
WHEN TO TRAVEL THE CASCADE LOOP
The complete Cascade Loop is only accessible between June and October.
In summer and early fall, clear skies and optimal road conditions combine to create an unforgettable road trip.
Summer and fall are the best times of year to enjoy the North Cascades, Lake Chelan, and Whidbey Island.
Yet while much of the Cascade Loop remains off-limits during winter and spring, certain destinations along its course are at their best during the off-season.
Highway 2 contains a plethora of winter-suitable activities. It boasts ski resorts, sno-parks, and cozy cabin getaways. Between December and February, Leavenworth becomes one of the top places to visit in Washington. Its Christmas lights and wintry charm are nothing if not enchanting.
Winter is also the best time to view nesting eagles along the Skagit River.
When To Drive The Cascade Loop?
Plan on completing The Cascade Loop between June and October. While the dates vary with the weather every year, there’s a good possibility that Highway 20 and the North Cascades region will be closed between November and May. Additionally, due to their elevation, many of the best hiking trails in Washington are covered in snow during these months, making them inaccessible to all but the most experienced alpine climbers. The fall is a gorgeous time with all the colors in the mountains.
How Many Days Does It Take To Do The Cascade Loop?
The amount of time you should plan on spending on the Cascade Loop depends a lot on how many stops you want to take, how long you want to spend in each spot, and how many hikes you plan on doing. Quin and I completed the Loop in a week. We didn’t feel rushed, but it would have been nice to have time for a few more hikes along Stephens Pass Greenway or in the North Cascades. By the same token, if you’re more interested in wandering around the little mountain towns and taking in the roadside views, you could probably complete the entire 440 mile Loop in 3 days.