The Rockport Loop
A loop near the Northern Cascades
|Mileage||77 miles (125 km)|
|DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.||1 hour|
|SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.||All Seasons|
|Roadways||Washington Highways 20 and 530|
|ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, pharmacies, etc.||Arlington, WA▼, Concrete, WA▼, Darrington, WA▼, Sedro Woolley, WA▼, and Mount Vernon, WA▼|
3.9 average from 73 votes
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The Rockport Loop travels from Arlington to Rockport, joining up to the North Cascades Highway and heads back to Sedro Woolley. This is a perfect short scenic drive to experience the splendor of the North Cascades.
We describe this scenic drive beginning in Arlington where the WA-530 and WA-9 meet. From I-5, take exit 208 and head east on WA-530.
Before heading off, explore downtown Arlington. Olympic Avenue boasts charming historic buildings that are home to restaurants, antique shops, and services. Don't miss the wonderful Arlington Art Walk (A1) which travels along the Centennial Trail, parallel to downtown. Discover over 30 sculptures, paintings, murals, mosaics, hands-on art installations, and more that reflect Arlington's culture and history. The walk is self-guided and free.
The drive begins east on WA-530, traveling through sections of forest, small farms, and rural towns, with occasional views of the Cascades Mountains.
In 27 miles, you arrive in Darrington. The WA-530 turns left and our drive continues on WA-530 following the Sauk River. If you turn right from here, you will be on the Mountain Loop Highway. There are a number of nearby hikes to get out and discover the natural beauty of this area such as the family-friendly Old Sauk River Trail (H2). The trail is 3-miles one way with no elevation gain, and you don't have to go all the way to experience the forest, observe wildflowers, mushrooms, and wildlife. Or hike the 8.6 mile round trip Boulder River Trail (H3) for waterfalls and pretty river views. Sauk and Suiattle Rivers are popular for rafting on a tube of your own or embark on a rafting trip with an outfitter.
18 miles from Darrington, the WA-530 will end and the road joins WA-20, the North Cascades Highway. Our drive heads west (left) on WA-20. If you were to turn right, you would head towards Washington Pass, which is closed in winter, usually until the end of April but check WDOT for updates.
Moments after the turn, Rockport State Park (H1) is on your left. The park comprises a beautiful, old growth forest that has never been logged, creating a dense canopy where minimal sunlight reaches the ground and the original ecosystem still remains. Five miles of trail meander through the forest offering views of towering red cedar and Douglas-fir trees, some 250-feet tall, along with a dizzying array of ferns and moss. There is an ADA-compliant West Loop Interpretive Trail as well. There is a day use fee to enter or use your annual Discover Pass. Just past the park entrance is Sauk Mountain Road which leads to Sauk Mountain Trail (H4). The almost 8-mile dirt road can be rough, but hiking to the summit of Mt Sauk (4.2 miles, roundtrip, elevation gain 1200 ft.) rewards with stunning 360 degree views of surrounding mountains including Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier, and wildflowers galore.
From November to February Rockport offers an opportunity to see the second largest eagle gathering in the United States, Alaska being the first. Learn more about this majestic bird and its habitat during the Skagit Eagle Festival held the entire month of January with activities in Concrete, Rockport and Marblemount. The Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center located at Howard Miller Steelhead Park (H5) features eagle presentations, viewing stations and boat tours. Howard Miller Steelhead Park offers year-round tent and RV camping, fishing, rafting and hiking trails.
Continuing west on WA-20, you can catch glimpses of the beautiful blue-green Skagit River on the south side of the road. Twenty miles from Rockport, the iconic concrete silos on the right welcome you to Concrete. The town was a center for cement production beginning in the early 1900’s. Three self-guided historic walking tours: the Superior Neighborhood (1-mile), the Baker Neighborhood (.8-mile) and the Cement City Neighborhood (1.8-miles). begin at the Concrete Chamber of Commerce. Learn more at the Concrete Heritage Museum (M3), open Saturdays only, noon to 4:00pm, Memorial Day through September. From Concrete, enjoy the day on Shannon Lake (W1) and Baker Lake (W2) by following Baker River Road and Baker Lake Road. Both offer camping, fishing, kayaking, and boating.
Stop at the nearby Henry Thompson Bridge (B1). Built in 1916, its graceful arch was the longest single-span cement bridge in the west, and has been listed on the Washington State and National Historic Register since 1976.
Continuing west on WA-20, the scenic drive travels to Sedro Woolley in 24 miles. From Sedro Woolley, consider heading north on WA-9 to Mosquito Lake Road and Mount Baker Highway or head west on WA-20 to I-5 for Chuckanut Drive. Continuing further on WA-20, brings you to Whidbey Island. To complete the loop to Arlington, head south on WA-9.