Author Topic: Route 20 in Cascades, WA  (Read 3298 times)

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Offline bgphelps2

Route 20 in Cascades, WA
« on: December 29, 2010, 01:29:29 pm »
Next summer I will be cycling solo, self-contained on Route 20 in the Cascades, WA. I'll be following half of the Northern Tier in WA. My question concerns camping spots.  I have a list of camping areas through WA. I plan to camp the first night out 50 -60 miles from Anacortes in the Rockport area. After that, the towns are Marblemount, and NewHalem (both of which have camping areas) but they are low mileage between them. After the last campgrounds east of Newhalem, there are no campgrounds or anything for the next 50+ miles leading up to the Rainey and Washington Passes.

How do fully-loaded touring cyclists handle that heavy elevation and mileage?  Do they ride the low mileage between Marblemount and NewHalem, camp out, then gut out Rainey and Washington Passes in one shot and camp out anywhere on the downhill campgrounds on the road to Mazama?  Or do they stop, stealth camp in those passes as necessary?  I'd like to do a minimum of 50 miles/day during the cross country trip.  Obviously, the mileage will depend on many daily factors.

Online Pat Lamb

Re: Route 20 in Cascades, WA
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2010, 03:08:04 pm »
There's another campground on Diablo Lake, above Newhalem but right before you start the climb to Ross Dam.  It was our first water stop in a very long way.

We went east to west from Winthrop to Newhalem in one day, which was 79 miles.  The climb looks long both ways up to the passes.  Despite some of the horror stories, I don't think there's too much of a climb from Sedro-Woolsey up to the Colonial Creek campground, although you'll be going up more than down.

As you're just going to be starting out, you may be more ready than you now expect for an easy day after two 50+ milers.  I'd suggest you shoot for the Colonial Creek campground, and if you're ready to bail at Newhalem, give yourself a break.  (They have Hagan-Daz ice cream bars in the Newhalem store that are very nice!)  One long climb, and one or two shorter climbs ready, you'll hit a wonderful downhill!


  • Guest
Re: Route 20 in Cascades, WA
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2011, 02:49:09 pm »
+1 on Colonial Creek.  Scenic with running water and flush toliettes, but you will have to carry food there.

Twice I have done Bayview State Park (just east of Anacortes) to Howard Miller Steelhead park in Rockport (great camping spot and interesting dive bar in town), a short day to Colonial Creek, picking up food in Newhalem, and then over the passes the next day.  I think it's about 30 miles to Washington Pass from Colonial Creek.  The climb starts out very stiff for several miles.  Then there is actually a relatively short, gradual descent.  When that is done, it's a long slog to Rainy, 1.5 miles down, then 3.5 miles up to Washington.  According this NPS site, it's 63 miles to Winthrop from Colonial Creek:

It's a long day.  Doing the extra miles to get to Colonial Creek knocks out two short climbing sections between Newhalem and there.  Bring plenty of water as there is nothing between Colonial Creek and Mazama--except gorgeous scenery.

Sedro-Wooley to Newhalem has nothing in the way of climbing.  Maybe a few undulations in places, but nothing difficult.  The S. Skagit Highway is a delight.

Offline bsweet

Re: Route 20 in Cascades, WA
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2011, 12:36:49 pm »
Colonial Creek Campground, east of newhalem is great.
Further along, almost to rainy pass there's a great camping spot.  It is located just down the trail from the "Easy Pass" trailhead.
Not an offcial camping spot, but it's on the river and right off the road (and conveniently located).
(Just google easy pass to find it).  There's an outhouse in the parking lot.  To get to the camp spot, just walk down the trail maybe 1/8th of a mile, it's located just off the trail next to the creek.  And if you're looking for a day hike during your ride, leaveing your tent set up and hiking to the top of easy pass (not easy, but pretty short) is amazing.
The next good camping spot isn't until you are 2 to 3 miles west of the hamlet of mazama, early winters campground.
Good luck!
Brian Sweet
Mazama, WA