Cycling Old Blewett Highway

 

Old Blewett - big view

Old Blewett Highway is a great break from the urban streets that I am accustomed to riding around Seattle. It has almost no traffic, beautiful scenery and offers a great nature fix. It’s roads like this that I enjoy bicycling.

Old Blewett summit signBefore the faster and modern Highway 97 was built in the 1960s, Old Blewett Highway twisted, turned and climbed over the mountains between Cle Elum and Leavenworth. Following old Indian trails, the route was first constructed as a wagon road in 1891 to benefit miners. In 1922, Sunset (cross-state) Highway was rerouted across Blewett Pass. This brought a restaurant, hotel and small ski hill to the pass. Today, the attractions are long gone but approximately 13 miles of the original road remains and is maintained by Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Leaving busy Highway 97 behind, we began the steady climb up to Old Blewett summit. We passed folks in the lower woods foraging for mushrooms. Upward we pedaled into the piney woods, listening to the chorus of songbirds and glimpsing peak-a-boo views of distant peaks and ridges.

Wildflowers - Old Blewett hwyThe wildflowers put on their own show as we climbed. Pentstemon, paintbrush, and balsamroot–oh my! The colors were vivid and the fragrance divine.

The road makes a serpentine ascent, practically folding back onto itself in tight hairpin turns at times. It eventually tops out at over 4000 feet before making a twisting descent back down to Highway 97.

It was interesting to note private interests in the area. There were homes tucked into the trees at Old Blewett summit and private mining claims still exist in the area.

Ready to create your own cycling adventure on Old Blewett Highway? Carry snacks and sufficient water, as there are no services on this road. Be alert to road conditions.  The pavement is narrow, sandy and gravelly in spots, and regularly experiences downed trees and falling rocks. Bring a camera or smart phone to capture your own ooh-aah moments.

Old Blewett Hwy hairpin at Echo Point

 

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2 thoughts on “Cycling Old Blewett Highway

  1. Tyrannosaurus Fir

    I wasn’t familiar with the Old Blewett Highway before reading this. Did you ride it out-and-back or end-to-end? I love the terrain up there and around the Teanaway, so this seems like a very nice ride.

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    1. louise_inbtween Post author

      We rode end to end and back, so about 25 miles. Some folks ride end to end then return to the start using Hwy 97, but I really enjoy the low traffic and solitude of the old road. We started from the south (Cle Elum side) where Old Blewett joins Hwy 97 on the west side of the road just south of Swauk Creek Campground. If you start from the north, I think the road is called Scotty Creek.

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