Editor's note: This road trip was first published on My Scenic Drives, where you can find a more detailed itinerary, and tools to create a custom road trip, as well as numerous other road trip ideas.
While this drive can be done in either direction, we describe it as starting in Wenatchee going west towards I-5 and Whidbey Island. This drive is one part of the Cascade Loop, and whichever direction you choose to travel, it will definitely be a great experience. To reach Wenatchee from the northern part of Washington, you can travel US-97 until it merges with US-2. To reach Wenatchee from I-90, take exit 136 and follow the signs for WA-281. In about 28 miles, turn left for WA-28 and stay on here for 30 miles until you turn left onto WA-285.
Washington apples: The area surrounding Wenatchee is apple country, and the free Washington State Apple Commission Visitor Information is the best place to learn about our state’s largest agricultural industry. While you are here, the Ohme Gardens County Park features trails winding through acres of flowers, waterfalls, ponds and trees and is one of the most popular gardens in the Northwest. (Note: It is open seasonally, from April through Oct. 15.)
Stevens Pass Greenway
- Mileage: 119 miles (192 kilometers)
- Duration: 2 hours, 30 minutes (The duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side trips.)
- Seasons: All seasons
- Roadways: US Highway 2, and Washington Highway 285
- Forest passes: Pacific Northwest Forest Pass for some of the hikes.
- Mountain passes and weather: Check highway conditions at WSDOT
Pioneering: Heading north on WA-285, turn for US-2/East in about 3 miles and in about 8 miles, you will be in Cashmere. The Cashmere Pioneer Village and Museum is an open-air museum with more than 20 authentically furnished, original pioneer structures as well as Native American artifacts dating back 9,000 years. (Note: It is open seasonally, from April through October.)
Blewett Pass: Seven miles from Cashmere, you will reach Peshastin and have the opportunity to head south on US-97 for our Peshastin to Ellensburg drive through Blewett Pass. If you are doing the drive in reverse and heading east, you should consider this alternative route.
Bavarian fun at Leavenworth: Continuing east on US-2 for 4 miles, Leavenworth is a famous Bavarian village, which has festivals and events all year long, many of which start in City Park. (Don't miss the Christmas Lighting Festival in December.) European-style architecture, dining, shopping, arts and theater await but if you are looking for the quiet life, Leavenworth is surrounded by the Wenatchee National Forest and there are numerous trails and glacial lakes in this area. Waterfront Park features trails that wind along the Wenatchee River. There are benches and interpretive signs making it a great stop for a short walk or picnic.
Tumwater Canyon: Leaving Leavenworth, drive through the Tumwater Canyon. The canyon is well known by rafters for its rapids, but the area’s beauty is breathtaking, particularly during the fall.
Lake Wenatchee: In 15 miles from Leavenworth, Lake Wenatchee State Park is 5 miles north on WA-207. The Lake Wenatchee State Park is a natural wildlife area surrounding Lake Wenatchee, a glacier fed lake. The lake is perfect for swimming and there are many hikes nearby.
Bygone byways: Stevens Pass is 24 miles east of here, right on US-2. Primarily a ski resort (but with summer activities including mountain biking and gondola rides), Stevens Pass is at 4,061 feet of elevation. Historically, this was a railroad town, and the Bygone Byways Interpretive Trail tells the story of its history. The US-2 Highway marks the northern-most railroad path through the Cascade Range. There are many trails in this area.
Deception Falls: Just after Stevens Pass, Deception Falls is a nice place to take a break and stretch your legs as you walk through an interpretive loop trail with a great view of the Cascades at an elevation of about 2,200.
About 8 miles from Deception Falls on US-2, Skykomish is a historic railroad town. The Skykomish Ranger Station has information on nearby trails and picnic areas. Hikes in this are require the Pacific Northwest Forest Pass which you can purchase from us. If you are planning to stay overnight in this area, you might consider Skykomish lodging for its proximity to Stevens Pass.
Mountains and falls: As you approach Index, Mount Index is directly to the south and dominates the skyline. Descending towards Gold Bar, the forests will start becoming less dense and civilization will come into view.
In Gold Bar, Wallace Falls State Park is a great place for hikes and views of its massive waterfalls. If you take the 7-mile loop trail above the falls, you will have a great panoramic view of the valley. To get there, take 1st Street, turn right onto May Creek Road, and follow the signs.
Antiquing: With more than 400 antique dealers, Snohomish calls itself the “antique capital of the northwest”. Most of the Snohomish Antiques Stores are downtown, making it fun and easy to shop.
Boeing tour: A great way to end the drive is a visit to the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour in Everett. It features the only public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant, but you also get to see the world’s largest building. The Future of Flight features hands-on exhibits, videos, graphics and interactive stations for the whole family.
From Monroe, you can catch the I-5 or continue the Cascade Loop by going to Whidbey Island. The Cascade Loop continues to the North Cascades Highway and on to Winthrop to Wenatchee.