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The Other Side of SR 9

Beating the blahs of Washington State's I-5 alternative

As soon as I started riding motorcycles in the Northwest, the inclination has always been to find a way to do it without riding on Interstate 5. And over the years I've learned that's an inclination shared with many other riders.

On a not-so-detailed map, State Route 9 looks like the answer. But sections of it are straight like I-5 and present a number of left-turning-vehicles crash opportunities. Thus it's not nearly as safe as riding on I-5 and often just as boring. So once I learned to use SR 9, I quickly began searching for alternatives to it.

Though a series of rides and friends over the years, that alternative has presented itself and while it's taken a while, we present you the Other Side of 9 Route. Granted, at times you must use SR 9 since there are no other options. That's ok, we've included simply the twistiest route we could come up with to provide several hours of pleasure as you ride from the Canadian Border back to the Seattle metro area.

The route begins at Sumas on the Canadian Border. Ride up the interstate in the late morning, get a bite to eat, or just use the route as it's intended as you ride back into the States from your next Canadian excursion.

Ride south on SR 9 and immediately depart it by turning left onto SR 547. Enjoy the twisties as you ride south to Kendall Corner where you'll make a right onto SR 542, the Mt. Baker Highway. Continue south till you reach Mosquito Lake Road and turn left. This road recently got a new bridge and is open again after a year of closure. You'll start to notice how few cars you're passing here, if any. After 14 luscious miles you'll be deposited back onto SR 9 where you'll turn left and ride south.

At Prairie, keep right onto Upper Samish Road, then another right onto Prairie Road. Follow it around and around the east Skagit farmlands and turn left onto the FS Grade road which you'll follow into Sedro Woolley. Turn right onto SR 9, another right onto SR 20 and left onto SR 9 to leave town.

Ride south on SR 9 to Clear Lake. At the gas station on the south end of town, turn left onto Beaver Lake Road. The road heads in all directions as you twist and turn your way mostly south and east but sometimes north and west where it becomes Gunderson and spits you back out onto SR 9. Turn left and ride south through Big Lake.

South of Big Lake, take a left onto Lake Cavanaugh Road and ride into the forested woodlands. At the junction with Grandstrom/Finn Settlement Road, turn right and work your way back toward SR 9. At the junction, turn left and ride south on SR 9 into Arlington.

Goodbye SR 9 for the rest of the ride!

As you ride through Arlington, turn left on Highland and later right onto Stillaguamish Road. As you ride south the road becomes Burn Road. At the Y, turn left and continue down Burn Road. On a clear day there are grand views from here of Mt. Pilchuck and the west Cascades, so be sure to get a glimpse in between the fun corners. At the second ninety degree left, the road becomes 100 th St and rolls east out to Jordan Road. Turn right onto Jordan and left onto SR 92 and ride into Granite Falls.

When you hit the downtown area of Granite Falls, turn right onto Granite Ave, ride south a few blocks and turn left onto Pioneer. As you ride south that road becomes Menzel Lake Road and later Lake Roesiger Road. It finally ends at a T with Woods Creek Road where you'll turn left and ride south all the way to Monroe. At each Y, pay close attention to follow the signs to stay on Woods Creek.

Need to keep working your way even further south?

To reach the termination point of SR 9, ride south out of Monroe on SR 203. Make a right onto Tualco Road and follow it west to High Bridge Road where you'll turn left and ride south. At the junction with the Woodinville/Duvall Road, turn right and take it into Woodinville which is where SR 9 ends.

And that my friends is how we avoid the straight, boring sections of SR 9. Yeah sure, it takes a lot longer, but every corner and scenic view makes it all worth while! For your pleasure we've included a MapSource GPS download . Right click the link and "save as" to download it now.

Patrick Thomas/ Spring 2010


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