Heading north up the coast from the Skagit Valley, you enter one of the most scenic stretches of highway in the state—Chuckanut Drive. This 11-mile portion of Highway 11 was the first route designated a scenic drive by the state. Built as part of the now-extinct Pacific Highway, it leaves I-5 just north of Burlington and heads straight as a cue stick across the black, flat soil of the Skagit Valley. The tiny towns of Bow and Edison have begun attracting artists, and several studios are open for weekend visits.
A short distance north of Bow, the highway runs head-on into the mountains that hover over Puget Sound; it’s here that the fun begins. The road doesn’t have a straight stretch for seven miles as it swoops and swerves along the face of the cliff, with grand views across to Anacortes, Guemes Island, and, farther north, the San Juan and Lummi Islands. With no shoulder, a narrow strip of pavement, and tight corners, it’s a bit dicey for bikes (especially on weekends when traffic is heaviest), but the views are stunning.
For more information on Chuckanut Drive, see the Chuckanut Merchants’ Association.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition