Visit Mountain Loop for an easy trip or an adventure

If you’re looking for a winter adventure, you can still drive the entire Mountain Loop Highway. The road hasn’t been closed yet for the season.

If you’d like to just go on a mellow winter trip, you can do that. Or you could gear up and drive the entire loop.

Let’s start with mellow. The Ice Caves are a fun trip pretty much year round. Since the road is open, you can drive to the parking lot for the trail still. As of Friday, it was drivable in a passenger car.

It’s a fun trip for kids. I took my daughter, who is 3, out there earlier this week. She loved the boardwalk, with the water backed up by beaver dams running under it. She spent a long time tossing snowballs in the water. There was enough snow to make things interesting, but not enough to make walking hard.

We let her go at her pace, and only made it as far as the bridge over the river. We talked to others, though, and they said the trailer was easy enough to hike in just decent boots. A few people were wearing microspikes, also.

The hike to the caves is only a mile, with minimal gain. They change all year, so seeing them in the winter is always fun.

In addition to the ice caves, there are a few interpretive areas along the loop, as well as many campsites. They’re closed right now, but you can still walk in and have a nice picnic on the tables.

You could also bring sleds and drive until you find a likely looking hill.

If you’re up for a more adventurous, the road is open all the way around. I chatted with a ranger at the Verlot Public Service Center on Friday. He said if you want to drive it, you’ll need to be prepared for winter driving conditions. You’ll want a four-wheel drive vehicle. And, as a precaution, bring along chains and a shovel.

Bring some food and hot drinks in a thermos, and you could make a very enjoyable day of it. I’ve never driven the whole loop in winter. From my summer drives, though, I imagine it would be beautiful.

If you’re going to go, it’s a good idea to call the Verlot Public Service Center at 360-691-7791 or check the road conditions online. Weather conditions can change fast. The county keeps the road open until it can no longer keep up with plowing from the snow gate to Barlow Pass.

The service center is open Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. If they’re closed, the phone recording will mention if the road is closed.

If you feel like a hike or snowshoe trip, check WTA’s website for trip reports. Click here for hikes specifically on the Mountain Loop.

More in Life

Shrimp and grits, rendered healthful and Italian? We’re in.

This recipe features a sauce made with olive oil, tomatoes and herbs instead of cheese and cream.

UFO at Paine Field playground was left by an artist — not aliens

The flying saucer at community park in Everett is a cosmic attraction.

Chef James Abbott makes Buck’s peanut butter pie at Buck’s American Cafe in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Fur & Feathers: 4 lovable dogs need homes

Meet Lola, Sadie, Scooter and Chance

Sweet baking tips: How to rescue brown sugar that’s turned hard

Soften the rock solid stuff, then try this recipe for chocolate chunk cookies with sea salt.

Valentina Bogdanova, 74, loves working in the gardens that nearly surround the Bakerview Apartments, where she has lived for 20 years. The units are among 16 affordable and subsidized properties leased to seniors by the Everett Housing Authority. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
As real estate booms, those with fixed-incomes need help

When senior citizens get housing, they are able to ‘age in place.’

Harry Potter exhibit marks 20th anniversary of first book

Many of the things Harry Potter fans thought were imaginary were actually based in fact — or folklore.

Visiting Germany’s Lutherland, birthplace of Reformation

The sights include the church where the first Protestant service took place in 1521.

Can you top ‘Hamilton’? Author Ron Chernow is about to find out

The notable writer’s latest book, published Oct. 10, is a lengthy biography on Ulysses S. Grant.

Most Read