Traveling bicyclists heading out on the Northern Tier Bicycle Route from Anacortes or nearing their final destination will find their way blocked on State Route 20 — the North Cascades Highway.
A bulldozer begins task of clearing mud from Highway 20. WSDOT photo
Heavy rain and hailstorms that blasted Rainy Pass (elevation 4,875 feet) over the weekend unleashed mud and rock slides across the scenic highway, forcing its closure by the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The scenic highway, which carries Adventure Cycling Association’s Northern Tier Bicycle Route over the Cascades, will be closed indefinitely between mileposts 147 and 153 west of Rainy Pass, according to WSDOT.
Highway maintenance crews will have to clear at least eight landslides that swept across the highway. These are the same folks who work all spring to open a 40-mile stretch of the highway closed over the winter because of deep snow accumulation. The road typically closes in November or December and reopens in April.
The route also is included in Adventure Cycling’s Washington State Parks and Sierra Cascades bicycle routes.
Updates for the road closure can be found at WSDOT North Cascades Highway web page. [On Thursday, the state said more rain in the forecast meant that the highway wouldn't be open until Monday, at the earliest.]
Jim Wilson, who runs Barn Bicycle Camping located on State Route 20 between Winthrop and Mazama, said there weren’t any bicyclists at his place over the weekend when the storm hit, and there haven’t been any bicyclists passing by for the past couple of days.
Westbound touring bicyclists will have to head south on State Route 97 to Wenatchee to pick up Route 2 over the Cascades. Or, if their final destination is Seattle, they could continue on State Route 97 over Blewett Pass to Cle Elum and hook up with the John Wayne Pioneer Trail heading west now that all the tunnels are open.
Eastbound cyclists can head south to State Route 534, follow it east to State Route 9 heading south, then take the Centennial Trail south to Snohomish where they can pick up Route 2 over the Cascades at Stevens Pass.
Also from Snohomish, bicyclists can head east to Monroe, then south on the Monroe-Duvall Road, and pick up the Snoqualmie Valley Regional Trail in Duvall. This would be an off-road route — with two interruptions — all the way to the John Wayne Pioneer Trail and Cle Elum.