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Cascade Loop- should I sacrifice days in the Northern Cascades for a side trip to SJ Islands?

Cascade Loop- should I sacrifice days in the Northern Cascades for a side trip to SJ Islands?

Old Jul 11th, 2003, 11:55 AM
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Cascade Loop- should I sacrifice days in the Northern Cascades for a side trip to SJ Islands?

My husband and I (in our early 30s) have 7 days in Washington state this summer and are thinking of doing the cascade loop.

We love the mountains and like to avoid crowds, so the cascades sound perfect, but we also love beaches and kayaking and have heard great things about the San Juan Islands.

The Cascade loop goes through Whidbey Island where I understand we can also kayak and do many of the things on offer in the San Juans- but I assume the San Juans are in a different category altogether?

Should I sacrifice days in the mountains to make a side trip to the San Juans? How crowded/touristy do the San Juan's get relative to Whidbey in peak season?

Would very much appreciate your thoughts!
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Old Jul 11th, 2003, 02:00 PM
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Ultimately it depends on your priorities. There's no way to compare the two itineraries without knowing what specifically you want to do/see in each.

Because it's connected to land (via SR 20) Whidbey is more heavily populated and developed than most of the San Juans. The big Naval Air Station at Oak Harbor adds an urban/suburban touch to the north end of Whidbey that's missing altogether in the San Juans. The San Juans are seldom crowded once you're past the ferry docks, and some, like Lopez, are sleepy to the max. That would be my choice for the islands, BTW.

There are several "Cascade Loops." If your loop goes through Whidbey, then presumably it also involves SR 20 through the North Cascades. This is a gorgeous road, but there are not that many "attractions" unless you want to camp or hike or get into the back country. Realistically, if your loop is US2/US97/SR20, you can do that in an easy 2 days, with time for exploring some of the near-roadside attractions. That would leave you a couple of days to spend on the San Juans.
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Old Jul 11th, 2003, 02:27 PM
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Of all the SJ Islands, I agree Lopez is the most enjoyable. It is quite sleepy and pastorl. Opportunities for relatively easy bike rides abound. I also like Whidbey and imagine the kayaking might be a bit easier there. If you wander outside of Langley it gets pretty quiet as well. Langley is also charming and really won't be all that crowded. On Lopez Island check out the Inn at Swifts Bay and on Whidbey check at the Inn at Langley. I will tell you though on my first trip to Whidbey I was surprised to see a submarine surfacing! You can also cross by car ferry to Whidbey from Port Townsend which is worth a stop in and of itself.
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Old Jul 11th, 2003, 07:40 PM
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That's a tough choice. I've lived in Washington for over 20 years and love both the mountains and Puget Sound. An alternative suggestion - take Highway 2 out of Everett west to Leavenworth. This is a very scenic mountain drive, and Leavenworth is a German-themed town in a beautiful setting. You can come back that night or stay over and travel back in the morning. Then take the ferry over to Whidbey and drive north back to mainland stoping at Langley, Coupeville, Fort Casey and Deception Pass State Park. Drive up to Anacortes and catch the ferry to the San Juans, but get there hours before your scheduled departure time if you plan to drive on. If you walk on, the best island to stop at is San Juan Island where you can stroll to and around the town of Friday Harbor which is where the ferry docks. If you drive on, you can see the entire island, or get off on Orcas Island, our favorite island (Lopez doesn't do anything for us). On Orcas you can drive up Mt. Constitution for killer views of the mountains, Canada, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Lots of kyakers here. This ferry ride and the mountains are really beautiful and relaxing! Have fun.
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Old Jul 12th, 2003, 09:49 AM
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Get out ;your map and mark the route that "mic" recommended !!!!
It sounds great...We have gone to most of ther places mentioned but mostly in the fall. You might find places more crowded--especially the ferry at Anacortes--don't know if you can make reservations??? don't know their web site--do a search on "Google" under Anacortes Ferry..
Have a great trip..
PS There is a sub base above Bremerton, @ Bangor --however no "tours' !!! ;-)
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