Mountain Loop/Granite Falls Vacation Attractions

  • National/State parks
  • Nature area: bird watching
  • Hiking, Biking, Snowshoeing and Cross-country ski trails.
  • Snowmobiling
  • Fishing
  • River Rafting
  • Verlot Ice Caves
  • Monte Cristo abandoned mines and railroad
  • Antique shopping
  • Centennial Trail

Mountain Loop Highway

The Mountain Loop Highway is a highway in the U.S. state of Washington. It traverses the western section of the Cascade Range within Snohomish County. The name suggests it forms a full loop, but it only is a small portion of a loop, which is completed using State Routes 92, 9, and 530. Part of the highway is also a designated and signed Forest Highway, and is known as Forest Route 20.

The highway connects the towns of Granite Falls and Darrington. It is paved for 34 miles from Granite Falls to Barlow Pass (2349’) where the highway becomes unpaved for 13 miles, and then paved again for the remaining 9 miles to Darrington. The unpaved section is U.S. Forest Service Road #20 and passes several USFS campgrounds. Portions of the unpaved section are often closed for periods of several years due to flood damage.

Between Granite Falls and Barlow Pass, the highway passes Big Four Mountain and the trail head leading to the ice caves at its base. At Barlow Pass, a private road (closed to motor vehicles) branches from the highway and leads to the former silver mining town of Monte Cristo. The portion from Granite Falls to Barlow Pass follows the Stillaguamish River. The portion from Barlow Pass to Darrington follows the Sauk River.

The “inside” of the highway’s namesake loop is a large area containing significant Cascade peaks, including Three Fingers (6850ft, 2088m), Whitehorse Mountain (6850ft, 2088m), Mount Pugh (7201ft, 2195m), Mount Dickerman (5723ft, 1744m), Vesper Peak (6214ft, 1894m), and Mount Forgotten (6005ft, 1830m).

Granite Falls Overview

B-B-007_fmtA Brief History of Granite Falls started with a single timber mill in 1891, producing the railroad ties for the railway to the nearby Monte Cristo gold mines. The town was incorporated in 1903. The town boomed through the early parts of the 1900’s, with as many as twelve lumber mills operating at one time.

From the old railroad town of Granite Falls to the logging center of Darrington, Mountain Loop Highway (a Forest Service scenic byway) follows the Stillaguamish and Sauk rivers through a mountainous region that blends soaring glaciated peaks, steep valleys, waterfalls, ice caves, even the ghost town of Monte Cristo.

There might not be a better stretch of road in Washington for short, fascinating day hikes than the portion of the Mountain Loop Highway between Granite Falls and Barlow Pass

Eating out is a pleasure in Granite Falls, where you will find several exceptional independent restaurants, including pizza, Italian, Mexican, and Asian. Two hometown cafes provide regulars and guests with outstanding casual breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. For a different experience, drive down the Mountain Loop Highway a couple of miles to the Mountain View Inn, which often features live music and dancing, along with fine food. Finally, a couple of pubs and several takeout places, round out the eating possibilities in Granite Falls.

Community Resources: The Granite Falls Library is located downtown at 101 E. Pioneer and is open Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thursdays and Sundays. The library is home to reading programs for school-age kids and story hours for preschoolers. Construction is beginning this summer on a new, state-of-the-art library with a lot more elbow room!

The “Loop” is a 100 mile stretch of roadway between Granite Falls, Darrington, and Arlington. The drive takes you along 3 beautiful rivers, stunning old growth forests and across a low mountain pass.

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