Lining the busy Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks, a block south of US-2, Skykomish is a quirky and engaging place that seems to belong somewhere else, some long time ago. If you like the idea of being lulled to sleep by the rumble of trains, spend a night at the historic Cascadia Inn (210 Railroad Ave. E., 360/677-2030). The inn also has a café and a cocktail bar, popular with kayakers and trout-fishers who come for its access to the river, and with skiers who like its easy access to the slopes at Stevens Pass, 16 miles farther east.
Around eight miles east of Skykomish, midway to Stevens Pass, a well-marked turnout Around eight miles east of Skykomish, midway to Stevens Pass, a well-marked turnout along US-2 gives access to one of the region’s prettiest and most historically significant sites. On the north side of the highway, the parking area’s interpretive exhibits tell the story of the Great Northern Railway, the transcontinental railroad that was completed on this spot in 1893. A plaque displays a photograph showing the driving of the traditional golden spike, while other exhibits discuss the construction and importance of the railroad in the growth of Puget Sound communities.
If you’re not interested in railroad lore, head along the 100-yard-long paved trail that loops back under the highway to the powerful cascade of Deception Falls. If you can stand the usually bone-chilling snowmelt, you’ll be pleased to find a number of deep and clean swimming holes in the area.