Top-5 Motorcycle Routes Around Seattle

Jun 20, 2021


Rented Ducati motorcycle in Seattle.

Seattle is a diverse city. Not only is it the birthplace of musical icons such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, it’s an industrial hub for world trade. It’s also the cultural and artistic hub of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle blends industry and culture to create a casual, but still cosmopolitan environment. It’s also the perfect place to explore behind the handlebar of a motorcycle.

Of course, it rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest. But it’s that very rain that creates unparalleled natural beauty. Outsiders would be remiss if they didn’t take advantage of seeing this vibrantly green scenery. Take the opportunity to explore at least one of the scenic motorcycle routes the surrounding area offers.

All of the routes listed below are for more experienced riders and run at least 200 miles, so be prepared for some serious riding!

1. Cascade Loop

Two or three-day trip — 444 miles

The Cascade Loop is an absolute must-see route. Featuring lush forests, orchards, vineyards, mountain peaks, valleys, deserts, waterfalls, and island communities, take this counterclockwise route to see breathtaking views and experience nature at its most serene and beautiful. 

This trip is longer than most listed here, but definitely worth it. You will want to split this trip into at least two or three days, as it runs for about 444 miles. The Cascade Loop starts in Seattle North Country. 

From the city, take Interstate 5 north to the shores of Puget Sound about a 1.5 hour away, to Mukilteo. From there, take Highway 2 east until Wenatchee. About halfway to Wenatchee, you will see the mind-blowing views of the 4061-foot Stevens Pass. 

After Stevens Pass is the town of Leavenworth. Located in the Cascade Foothills, Leavenworth is home to all things Bavaria: food, architecture, breweries, and a fast-growing wine industry.  But before you arrive in Leavenworth, take advantage of the many designated pull-outs to gaze at the views and take wall-worthy photographs. 

Next, you will take Highway 97A, but first, stop in Wenatchee, the Apple Capital of the World. Once on 97A, you will want to see Lake Chelan, and the 275 acres of vineyards and 37 wineries along this route. After Wenatchee and Lake Chelan, head north on Highway 153 until it meets Highway 20 just before Twisp. 

A mandatory stop is at the North Cascades National Park. This awe-inspiring natural wonder is home to over 300 glaciers, mountain peaks, valleys, and waterfalls.

The second-to-last-leg of this route features the historic logging town of Sedro-Woolley. Be sure to visit during Independence Day week to experience the bluegrass bands, fireworks, and the logging and chainsaw carving contests. Finally, continue on Highway 20 circling back to Mukilteo (you will take the ferry), and take I-5 back south to Seattle. 

It is important to note that due to large amounts of precipitation in winter, Highway 20 will be closed from milepost 171 to 134 every year between late November through late April. 

2. Leavenworth Day Ride

One-day trip — 289 miles

If the Cascade Loop is too much or too long, Leavenworth Day Ride offers a more bite-sized version—it’s 289 miles long, but can be accomplished in a long day of committed riding. On this route, you will experience Snoqualmie Falls, the foothills of the Cascade Mountains toward Leavenworth. Leavenworth is the quaint mountain town mentioned in the previous route. Formerly a logging town, it was remodeled into a Bavarian-style town featuring traditional German cuisine, art, and drinks.

Take I-90 east until it connects with Highway 97. From Seattle, it should take a little over two hours to reach Leavenworth. If you have the time, visit the Okanogan- Wenatchee National Forest just off Highway 207, which boasts over 4,000,000 acres of caves, hiking trails, and mountain bike trails.

When you are ready to return, you will take I-90 through the Snoqualmie Pass back to Seattle. Although shorter than the Cascade Loop trip, the Leavenworth Day Ride offers the same picturesque and awe-inspiring scenic ride. 

3. Puget Sound Day Ride

One-day trip — 217 miles

The Puget Sound Day Ride offers an adventure a little further west of the Cascade Loop. It has everything a sight-seeing tour should: mountain peaks, lush forests, and serene coasts. 

Start by crossing the Tacoma Narrows bridge and through farms and tiny villages on the Kitsap Peninsula. Shelton, two hours outside of Seattle, features great shopping and dubs itself the “Christmas Tree Capital.” Next is Hood Canal, a scenic inlet. Be sure to stop in Port Townsend for lunch or a snack. Port Townsend is known for its fresh local seafood and the quaint downtown district with Victorian-style buildings from the 1800s.

Ride to Bainbridge Island, hop on the ferry to Puget Sound and back down to Seattle. Motorcycles are allowed on the ferry and are first-on, and first-off. This cuts wait time in half. Be sure to bring money for each vehicle.

The Puget Sound Day Ride is a perfect ride to see picturesque mountains, lush valleys, and serene coastal waters, and all in a manageable length too! This route runs 217 miles and can be accomplished in a day.

4. Mt. Rainier

One-day trip — 221 miles

If you’re looking for great views and twisty roads, the Mt. Rainer day ride is the perfect one-day trip, at 221 miles. Locals suggest starting in Enumclaw, approximately 43 miles and 1.5 hours east of Seattle. To get there from Seattle, take I-5 S then WA-164 E. From Enumclaw, take Highway 410 to arrive at the Chinook pass; this is where you’ll experience an incredible view and fun twists in the road. 

Once you’re finished there, go back to take Highway 123 south to the Stevens Canyon entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park. You will wind around the Ohanapecosh River and up Stevens Canyon Road, experiencing some exciting yet sharp switchbacks with grand views. As you near the top of the road, take time to stop and soak in the scenery.

Of course, you can’t miss seeing the highest peak of the Cascade Mountains: Mt. Rainier. Reaching 14,411 feet in elevation, Mt. Rainier is a dormant volcano with a dome-shaped peak surrounded by rivers, lakes, canyons, and waterfalls. 

There is also a ranger station offering great backdrops for photos. Head down to Longmire Lodge and the old hot springs. If your legs need stretching there is a walking trail about a mile long. Exit the park and make your way to the town of Elbe to eat at either the Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining, Elbe Tavern, or Scaleburgers. 

5. Car D’Alene

Two-day trip — 405 miles or 311 miles

If you’re a classic car enthusiast and have a couple days to travel, an absolute mandatory ride is to the Car D’Alene— a festival in the northern Idaho town of Coeur d’Alene, 330 miles east of Seattle. This route should take you about two days to complete. The festival itself happens every year in June and features pre-1975 cars and trucks for show and on the streets. 

To get there, you will head East towards the Northern Cascade Mountains, just south of the Canadian border. There is the longer scenic route (405 miles, 7 hours 39 minutes), or the slightly shorter route (311 miles, 4 hours 48 minutes). 

The longer scenic route takes you on the Cascades Scenic Highway (Highway 20) with gorgeous views and various places to stop, refresh, and stretch your legs. Take I-5 North to WA-530 E/State Route 530 in Snohomish County. From there follow WA-530 E/ State Route 530 NE to WA-20 in Rockport. Continue on WA-20 E. Take WA- 153 S, WA-174E, US-2 E and I-90 to Northwest Blvd. in Coeur D’Alene. Take Exit 11 and follow Northwest Blvd. to E Sherman Ave. 

For the shorter route, you will want to take I-90 east to Northwest Blvd. in Coeur d’Alene, then take Exit 11. Follow Northwest Blvd. to E Sherman Ave. To return to Seattle, go back the same way you came, or take the other route. 

If you're taking the longer route, you should stay overnight. We suggest stopping in Winthrop, a town that appears like its from the 1890s— complete with wooden boardwalks, interesting shops, restaurants, bakeries, and pubs. Don’t let the casual feel fool you, there are upscale dining experiences as well. Winthrop features all kinds of lodging including hotels, resorts, campgrounds, and bed and breakfasts.

Now that you’ve seen just a few of the scenic options available to you, book a flight and let Riders Share help you find the perfect motorcycle.