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These three scenic routes in Whatcom are among the most dangerous for motorcyclists

The North Cascades Highway traverses the Cascade Range in an east-west direction. It’s the most dangerous road for motorcyclists, according to a report from a Seattle law firm.
The North Cascades Highway traverses the Cascade Range in an east-west direction. It’s the most dangerous road for motorcyclists, according to a report from a Seattle law firm. Getty Images

North Cascades Highway is the deadliest scenic road for motorcyclists in Washington state, according to a recent report from a Seattle law firm.

Also on the list of the 10 most dangerous, though pretty, motorcycle rides were the Mount Baker Highway and Chuckanut Drive, stated the report from Davis Law Group, a personal injury law firm.

They were the fifth and seventh most dangerous, respectively. All three routes are either entirely or partially in Whatcom County.

The report was issued as weather warms and more motorcyclists take to the roads.

To reach its conclusions, the law firm said it analyzed nearly 4,000 records of crashes that involved motorcycles from 2016 through 2018 and then compared them against the most popular scenic rides in the state, as laid out by MotorcycleRoads.com.

Among its findings:

North Cascades Highway, also known as State Route 20, had six fatal crashes and 21 injury collisions in the stretch from Marblemount to Winthrop during the three years studied.

The highway’s twists and turns as it climbed up to the Cascades was a concern.

At its highest point at Washington Pass, the highway is 5,477 feet above sea level.

The stretch of concern, which is outside of Whatcom County, “is extremely twisty, but is one of Washington’s hidden secrets,” the report states. “But don’t be blinded by the scenic views.”

Mount Baker Highway, also known as State Route 542, had eight injury crashes in that time. The road ends at Artist Point, known for its stunning 360-degree views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan and for being the jumping off point to a number of mountain hikes in summer and fall. State transportation crews have not yet started to clear snow from the last part of the highway to Artist Point.

Chuckanut Drive, also known as State Route 11, had six injury collisions.

The other scenic routes in the top 10 list were Chinook Pass, Leavenworth Run, Klickitat Loop, Sunset Run, Rattlesnake Pass to Wallowa Lake, Out to the Ocean and Spirit Lake Highway.

Officially called State Highway 11, Chuckanut Drive is one of the most beautiful roads in the Pacific Northwest. Though only 21 miles long, the scenic highway connects Bellingham to the fertile farmlands of the Skagit Valley.



The highest point of North Cascades Highway was corrected March 28, 2019.

Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.


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