Author Topic: Anacortes - Concrete ?  (Read 969 times)

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Offline Somebuddy

Anacortes - Concrete ?
« on: March 07, 2014, 12:07:25 pm »
Greetings from Scotland. I have two quick questions re the ACA routing of the Northern Tier from Anacortes to Concrete. I have not as yet purchased the ACA maps, but will do so come pay day. My questions are:

Why does the ACA route head north out of Anacortes to Bay View and take back roads into Sedro Wooley, is it just nicer than the main road, route 20?

Exiting Sedro Wooley we are sent south and then along the S Skagit Hwy. Google maps bicycle option chooses to send us along the "Cascade Trail", which runs parallel to route 20. Which would you choose?

Thanks for any advice,

Regards

Dave

Offline John Nelson

Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2014, 01:10:58 pm »
Highway 20 near Anacortes is awful. Plain and simple. The highway is busy and noisy, and the shoulder is covered with debris and glass. You are forced to use a bit of it to get out of Anacortes, but you'll be itching to get off it as soon as possible.

Sedro Woolley is a nice place. You'll like it.

From Sedro Woolley to Concrete, the ACA route chooses the South Skagit Highway rather than the North Cascades Highway. I cannot recommend the South Skagit Highway enough. It's one of the most pleasant cycling roads anywhere, a tree-covered road with almost zero traffic (because all the traffic is on the North Cascades Highway). I personally will think you are nuts if you choose the North Cascades Highway over the South Skagit Highway just to save a few miles. The South Skagit Highway defines why we ride a bicycle.

I don't know much about the Cascade Trail. I don't know if all of it is paved. As you know, the ACA tends to avoid most unpaved roads.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2014, 01:14:42 pm by John Nelson »

Offline Somebuddy

Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2014, 01:15:38 pm »
Thanks very much Mr N.  South it is then.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 01:31:22 pm »
Beware of Google bicycling directions. This caveat doesn't seem to apply to the Cascade Trail, but Google can occasionally send you on routes entirely unsuitable for travel by a loaded touring bicycle. According to what I've read, the Cascade Trail is largely unpaved. I've read, however, that it's in generally good shape (with potholes) and okay to ride with a mountain bike. I'd guess that a touring bike can do it too, but, depending on your preferences, I don't know whether you'd like it or not.

Offline Somebuddy

Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2014, 07:54:40 pm »
No no smooth tarmacadum is my preference. I have to make haste when possible, as I only have 90 days in the usa before they kick me out! Dipping my toe into Canada and coming back in to usa doesn't reset the counter either. From your description the South Skagit Highway sounds lovely. I have been researching other peoples treks across country on www.crazyguyonabike.com and have been following a 70 year old Canadian who is heading off on 1st June. He appears to be going along route 20, without diverting. I was curious as to why the ACA route diverted, but you have done a fine job of explaining that for me. I think I will just stick to the ACA route in total. Once I cough up for the maps....

I appreciate your help and advice, thanks again.

Dave

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2014, 03:55:26 pm »
I rarely disagree with John, but this is one of those times.  S. Skagit was a long, boring ride for me.  There was one view of the river at a pipeline crossing, a couple of rather sad-looking farms, and no other scenery.  The highlights of this tree-lined route were a couple of road signs.  And maybe I'd pumped my tires up too much at Newhalem, but I remember the road as asphalt over cobbles.  If I were to ride it again, and it wasn't a weekend, I'd stay on 20.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2014, 06:26:56 pm »
Okay, I'll offer you a photo of the South Skagit Highway, and you can decide for yourself whether you would enjoy the ride.

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/pics/docs/00/00/96/80/large/IMG_20120613_124511.jpg?v=2

Offline mcmoonter

Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2014, 05:59:01 pm »
Another Scot here.

I was there a couple of years ago and would highly recommend the South side of the Skagit River. There was barely any traffic on it. It felt a lt like riding along the Tay in Perthshire.

From Anacortes I'd nip off the main road from Anacortes and head for Mount Vernon. Mostly to have breakfast at the Mt Vernon Cafe on Main St just over the Skagit River bridge.  It's a super friendly old school diner. The guys there showed me an easy ride across town to pick up the road to the South side of the Skagit River just before Sedro Wooley.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/pacificcoastandcascadescircuit

Offline Damian

Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2014, 06:44:10 pm »
Okay, I'll offer you a photo of the South Skagit Highway, and you can decide for yourself whether you would enjoy the ride.

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/pics/docs/00/00/96/80/large/IMG_20120613_124511.jpg?v=2

The link to this photo works if you strip the "?v=2" off the end :D

Offline John Nelson

Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2014, 11:18:35 pm »

Offline joshcp

Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2014, 03:14:30 pm »
South Skagit Highway is great, but they put down new chip seal last year. It'd still recommend it though, a beautiful ride.

That said, if you take Highway 20 out of Sedro Woolley you can stop at Birdsview Brewery along the way. Hwy 20 has a lot more traffic than S Skagit, but wider shoulders that are fairly well maintained. The Cascade Trail is my preferred way out, but as previously noted it's a bit gravelly so not quite as fast. But if you want a bit of reprieve from car traffic, Cascade Trail is the best.

You pass Birdsview Brewery about 8 miles before arriving in the tiny town of Concrete.
http://www.birdsviewbrewingcompany.com/

Offline Somebuddy

Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2014, 04:16:40 pm »
Thanks again everyone. Looking forward immensely to my tour.

Offline Itinerant Harper

Re: Anacortes - Concrete ?
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2014, 11:41:28 am »
So having grown up in Anacortes and toured extensively around there I can say that the ACA routes and virtually every other one I've seen is not the best route in the area.  What you really want to do is take the Tommy Thompson trail from downtown which crosses Fidalgo Bay on a decommissioned train trestle.  Then you want to hang a left on March's Point road and go around March's Point. This road is along the water the entire way and on the land side is two oil refinery's which are of course horrific but fascinating in that decline of industrial empire sort of way.  March's Point Road then swings back in and intersects with Hwy 20 right at the Twin Bridges over the Swinomish Slough.  By taking this route you only have to ride on 20 for the Bridge Crossing as pretty much right off the bridge you take a right and go under the bridge and then you are back on the ACA route.

The ACA route from the bridges to Sedro Wooley is great and is definitely recommended. You get a bit along the mudflats at the beginning and then across farmland and around the Skagit River.  Sedro Wooley as far as little towns go has it's charms and you should certainly stock up on anything you need at that point as the services begin to dwindle.

Okay so as for the real question at hand I have ridden the South Skagit Highway, the Cascade Trail and the North Cascades Highway. S. Skagit has it's charms for sure - the lack of traffic and the tree lined corridor is definitely the kind of riding I like. However I've taken the Cascade Trail far more often.  It is a gravel trail, but quite hard packed most of the time (closer in to Sedro Wooley a bit less so) and the chip seal you'll find on the SSH isn't much better. It follows the Skagit River for a fair piece closer to Sedro Wooley and you see far, far more of the river than on the SSH.  It then cross farmland and gets into the trees and it is a treelined corridor the rest of the way to Concrete.  I tended to occasionally hop on the the N. Cascades Hwy to break it up a bit, but once into the wooded sections I stick with it. 

The other reason I prefer to be on the north side is that the last grocery store you going to find is just West of Concrete and you have to backtrack to it if you take the SSH. Additionally one of my favorite campgrounds - and definitely the best you'll find before you get into the National Park - is also south of Concrete: Rasar State Park. This 'ground is on the river and has a new-ish and very nice hiker/biker site that is nicely separated from the main ground.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2014, 11:44:47 am by Itinerant Harper »