For me, Upriver is that part of Skagit County that is east of Sedro-Woolley. In The Skagit, Upriver can be an adjective, a verb or a noun. For this post, it is a noun. Because of the differences in financial, social and ‘other things,’ Upriver is different than Downriver. Highland Garden House is Downriver, by the way!
I want to tell you about a little half to one day loop that will give you a good sense of Upriver, mainly about three of the rivers that are ‘upriver.’ The big river is the Skagit River, the other ‘little’ rivers flow into the Skagit. The Skagit is somewhat controlled, it has dams, above where you are driving, the other rivers in THIS post are ‘wild’ and uncontrolled.
You start out in Sedro-Woolley, heading east on SR-20. Drive east on this highway passing through or near Lyman, Hamilton, Birdsview, Concrete and Rockport. This entire time you are parallel to the big Skagit River, to the south of the highway. You come very close to it at times. Turn south at Rockport, this is where the Sauk empties into the Skagit, on the Sauk Valley Road; signs will point you to Darrington. In about 11 miles you come to the bridge across the Sauk River; about a half mile further is a good view of the Suiattle River pouring into the Sauk in a raw, gravelly and snaggy torrent.
No dam on this river, all the water that falls and snow that melts just pours out. Turn around and go back north; in about 5 miles you come to the other bridge across the Sauk on the left; this is the turnoff for the Concrete-Sauk Valley Road. Go across the one lane bridge and park on the far side.
Take a look at the Sauk in all of its raging, uncontrolled glory. The photo is taken from river level; you can scramble down the bank of the road to get to the river.
Head north on this road. You will now be on the west side of the Sauk, after about 16 miles you come to the bridge across the Skagit that can take you to Concrete and back the way you came. Pull off near the bridge and see the beautiful canyon here. You can return to Mt. Vernon via SR-20 by crossing the bridge, or not cross the bridge and head down the South Skagit Highway, connecting with SR-9 near Clear Lake.
Other significant rivers that contribute to the flow of the Skagit are the Baker and the Cascade. Both of these rivers are worthy of day exploring. Since each is in a different direction than the Sauk, the Baker to the north and the Cascade to the east, I will save them for another day.
’til next time,
Highland Garden House, 501 E. Highland Ave., Mount Vernon, WA 98273