VERLOT — A section of Mountain Loop Highway opened earlier than expected this year.
Past Verlot, the road between Deer Creek and Barlow Pass reopened Wednesday afternoon, according to a news release from Snohomish County Public Works.
That stretch includes the trailhead for the popular Big Four Ice Caves. However, the bridge over the Stillaguamish River is closed for repairs, so visitors can’t get to the viewpoint.
The remaining 12 miles of unpaved road, up to the Bedal Creek campground, remains closed for the time being.
“Some sections of the road just need to dry out a bit more before we can safely open to the public,” County Engineer Doug McCormick said in a statement. “But getting even a portion of the highway open this early is a big win for residents.”
Usually, the highway stays closed until Memorial Day. According to the county, on average more than 100 cars use the route each day during the summer, with up to 200 cars on the weekends.
“We are especially pleased to be opening this section two weeks early so those who want to use the campgrounds and other amenities on the west side of the pass have access,” Snohomish County Public Works Director Kelly Snyder said in a statement. “This is a very popular outdoor destination and our crews are working hard to get the middle gravel section of the highway ready for public use. We hope that everyone will be respectful of the remaining closure while our staff work with heavy machinery to prep the road.”
The highway was closed for the season in December.