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At its northern-most point, the Cascade Loop passes into and out of Whatcom County near Diablo Lake and Ross Lake. A special highlight of the area is the North Cascades Learning Center, which offers a variety of single and multi-day programming, and some lodging at its facility.

To explore more of the region, as well as Bellingham (the Whatcom County seat), take a fun and scenic “loop off the Loop.” In Sedro Woolley, turn north on Highway 9. Enjoy the evergreen views for 22 miles, passing through the quiet hamlets of Wickersham, Acme and VanZandt. Fun spots to eat include the Blue Mountain Grill and the Acme Diner.

Arriving at the intersection of Highway 542 brings a choice. This is the famed “Mount Baker Highway.” Turning to the east, the road continues for 44 miles and climbs steadily to 5,140 feet. Near the top, it passes Picture Lake – a must stop for breathtaking views of Mt. Shuksan reflected in the water and an accessible walkway. Continuing onward (and upward) the route ends at the Artist Point parking lot. Access is dependent on weather, but is generally open July – Oct. From here Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan are within touching distance, and hiking trails fan out in every direction.

Turning to the west on Mount Baker Highway (542), Bellingham is 14 miles west of the Highway 9 Junction (or 58 miles west of Artist Point). Approaching city limits, Highway 542 becomes Sunset Drive. 

Within Bellingham, find an abundance of hotels, restaurants and services to help you relax and enjoy your getaway. Stop at the Visitor Information Center at 904 Potter Street for full details. It is open daily, year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Or find comprehensive information at, including lists of things to do.

Bellingham is located on the Salish Sea, which means an abundance of water adventures are available. Try sea kayaking, sailing, stand up paddleboard, or a whale watching excursion. Bellingham is also the only embarkation point in the lower 48 for the Alaska Marine Highway. 

More than a century ago, Bellingham was actually founded from the water and its two historic business districts are both on Bellingham Bay: Downtown Bellingham and Fairhaven Village. Each is filled with Victorian-era red-brick buildings and boutique shops. Recently, Bellingham has also become a beehive of craft beer activity with more than a dozen breweries, many of which are winning national and international awards, including: Boundary Bay Brewery, Chuckanut Brewery, Kulshan Brewing, Wander Brewing and Aslan Brewing. 

To complete the side trip, take Chuckanut Drive (Highway 11) from Fairhaven Village on the southern edge of Bellingham, which hugs the cliff above the shoreline as it meanders south to Highway 20 in the Skagit Valley. Oyster fans will be sure to stop at The Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive, or Taylor Shellfish, to taste the freshest oysters plucked from the sea that day.

Of course, the trip can also be enjoyed in reverse order, starting with Highway 11 to Bellingham, and continuing on Highway 542 and Highway 9.

Diablo Lake is one of the most iconic stops on the Cascade Loop & it's part of Whatcom County!

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