Hiking: Highway 2 Near Steven’s Pass
US Highway Route 2 is a 2,500 mile northern route across the country that begins its journey in the humble town of Everett, Washington. Here at Terra Trekkers we are particularly fond on the the stretch between the city of Monroe and Steven’s Pass as it offers dense conifer forests, chilly mountain rivers, excellent hiking trails, and a few quirky but fantastic kid activities.
Trip Start: Monroe
Take a few minutes to stock up on food and gas in Monroe. There are plenty of smaller markets along the way in the towns of Gold Bar and Sultan if you forget the beef jerky or Forest Service Pass. Heading east out of Monroe, it’s hard to miss the Reptile Zoo. We typically stop for lunch at the Old School BBQ out front; the restaurant is comprised of two old school buses which have been fitted with chairs and tables for dining. We swear by the pulled pork sandwich and baked beans. Following lunch, head into the Reptile Zoo to take a peek at the world’s deadliest snakes, meet Barnabas the alligator, and spy my most favorite reptile, the gorgeous chameleon. Be sure to time your visit for the animal feedings at 10am and 1pm.
Continuing east on Highway 2 from Monroe will take you deeper into the forest as you pass a string of small townlets along the Skykomish River: Sultan, Startup, Gold Bar, and Index. It’s now time to choose your hikes. Families with young children will likely spring for the Barclay Lake hike, a lovely stretch of water nestled
beneath the imposing Mount Baring. Have a train-obsessed toddler? Then the Iron Goat Trail is for you as your family will have the opportunity to explore old train sheds and learn about the Wellington Avalanche Disaster. If you’re jonesing for a hike to test your mettle, then the 8.2 mile roundtrip Lake Serene is a good choice. With a 2,000’ elevation gain, you’ll have worked off the BBQ by the time you reach the top.
If you come in the winter, Steven’s Pass ski area may be calling your name. The resort is more suited to the advance skiers in the family but lessons are available for the three and older set. Even if you’re not heading for a day on the slopes, winter travelers should be prepared for snowy and icy conditions, even at lower elevations. Four-wheel drive or chains are a must if going over the pass. Here at Terra Trekkers we have been traveling some of the backroads in the area and we typically pack warm gear, sleeping bags, chains, shovels, and other assorted tow gear. Don’t plan on cell phone reception once off the main highway. It’s also worth checking the road conditions at the Skykomish Ranger Station website.
On your way home, stopping in at Zeke’s Drive In for a burger and shake is always a good way to end the day in the mountains.
Reptile Zoo 22715 State Route 2, Monroe, WA 98272. $8/adult. $6.5/child.
Barclay Lake trail. 4.4 miles roundtrip. 500 feet elevation gain. NWForest Pass required.
Iron Goat trail. 6.0 miles roundtrip. 700 feet elevation gain. NWForest Pass required. Tip: When the trail forks, head west, along the old track. It’s better to do the steep switchbacks (coming down) at the end of the loop, rather than at the very beginning.
Lake Serene. 8.2 miles, roundtrip. 2,000 feet elevation gain. NWForest Pass required.
Steven’s Pass Ski Area.