The Cascade Trail runs 22.5 miles and follows the abandoned Burlington Northern grade along the Skagit River and State Route 20 (part of the North Cascades Highway and the Cascade Loop) while connecting the towns of Sedro-Woolley, Lyman, Hamilton, Birdsview, and Concrete. The trail is a crushed rock multi-use trail open to pedestrian, cycling, and equestrian use.
The trail from Sedro-Woolley starts in the vast farmland of the Skagit Valley to the south of the North Cascades Highway. The trail is a back and forth between the Skagit River and the SR 20 with gorgeous views of farms and the North Cascade foothills. Be on the lookout for many different bird species especially during the Birds of Winter Experience.
Just east of Hamilton, the trail crosses the North Cascades Highway/Cascade Loop and continues its travels on the north side of the Valley. See if you can spot bald eagles and be sure to look east to the popular hiking destination – Sauk Mountain.
Near milepost 19 the trail passes through land designated to protect the Skagit River population of the North Cascades elk herd – Hurn Field. You can see Hurn Field from this vantage spot.
In 1983, Congress enacted an amendment to the National Trails System Act directing the Interstate Commerce Commission to allow about-to-be abandoned railroad lines to be “railbanked,” or set aside for future transportation use while being used as trails in the interim. In essence, this law preempts rail corridor abandonment, keeping the corridors intact as trails or for other transportation uses in the future.
In 1986 there were only seventy-five known rail-trails in the United States today there are more than one thousand for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. Cascade Trail is one of these “railbanked,” corridors!
The three trailheads for the Cascade Trail from west to east:
Take Transit: Skagit Transit Route #717 stops at several places along SR-20 that are very close to the Cascade Trail.
The trail is open year-round and Port-a-potties are located at the trailheads. Take time to sit and enjoy the Skagit River from one of the ten benches on the trail.
Click here for a printable map of the Cascade Trail: