Up in the western part of Washington state is a road that is known as the Mountain Loop Highway which runs between Granite Falls and Darrington, Washington. The road played a very significant part in the history of the local area. For more information do a search on the Barlow Pass or Monte Cristo. I've travelled to that area since I was a child to go fishing (I caught my only steelhead up in that area). Later on I would travel up there to hike and camp. Then for a number of years I didn't pay it a visit. It didn't help that the road became blocked for a number of years as a result of slides and erosion. Finally a few years ago, the road was re-opened and I yearned to return and ride it for my first time on a motorcycle. The road is about 50 miles in length and a section about 12 miles long is not paved. It is also known as Forest Service Road 20. So let's begin our little day trip. My friend Bob recently purchased a Weestrom (Suzuki DL650) with the purpose of using it as a dual sport. I ride a BMW F650GS. With these two mounts, after a few false starts, we decide that today will be a good day to sneak in a ride along the highway before it's closed for the winter. So we ride from our homes in south Seattle to the little town of Granite Falls which is NE of Everett, Wa. My route takes us on back roads through Woodinville, Monroe, & Lake Stevens before we arrive at our fuel stop and breakfast in Granite Falls. A little breakfast tasted good after our 2 hour ride up here. We also gassed up. The bikes are sure looking clean. Will that last? To access the Mountain Loop Highway, one just heads east on WA92 through Granite Falls to the east side of town and then turn left onto the highway. The road is paved for the first 30 or so miles. Along the way we pass by a favorite place I've visited over the years. We didn't hike to the caves this day. In fact, nobody did. We only saw 2 cars on the ride to Darrington and 3 on the way back. It's a quiet day on this damp Friday. The road looks a lot like this for most of the 30 miles. Then we see the following: Looks promising. Then this and gravel. Riding along this gravel section, we begin to be treated with lots of nice scenery. Of course, we need to know where we are so there's an identification sign in the middle of the unimproved section. Then there's the moss. Lots of it and in all colors and on all sorts of objects. Soon we arrive at our destination. It's not a bad sign for a city entrance which is really the back door. Arriving at our destination restaurant, the bike cried out. Did I mention the gravel road was a bit "damp" and muddy? It was very compact and a fun road to ride on a dual sport. During lunch, Bob and I were jubilant about the road and decided to ride it back the way we came so we could re-enjoy the experience. So off we head for Granite Falls. Arriving at the start of the gravel, we're greeted by these signs. There were lots of little waterfalls along the way. This is one of them. I think someone has forgotten to clean the sign in a while. It looks like we're in the middle of nowhere. Here's one of the river crossings. Of course, our route takes us close to the river and rock cliffs. At the end of the gravel we came upon this "parking" place. It's actually a way to get to Monte Cristo which is a ghost town. We're once again on the pavement and I decide to pull into the Big 4 rest area for a little break. At the turn of the century there was a lodge here along the route of the now removed railroad. Here's some history. We're also greeted by a friend. And then there's some nearby snow. Sadly, as we are leaving, we take a picture of the entrance to the area Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Leaving the Mountain Loop Highway we chased the sun to make it home before dark. Guess what? We lost! Sunset was around 4:40 this day and I didn't arrive home until around 5:30pm. But it was a wonderful day riding the Mountain Loop Highway. If you are in the area, consider riding it. You'll not be disappointed.