by Linda Jenkins / Photo © Brandon Sawaya
Set in the misty Cascade Mountain foothills and descending into farmland nurtured by the Stillaguamish River, the Stillaguamish (Stilly) Valley includes the historic logging and farming towns of Darrington and Arlington in Snohomish County, an hour north of Seattle. The area has a strong agricultural focus, and visitors to the area help support the work and livelihoods of a new generation of farming families. In the summer, the Stilly Valley’s forests, rivers and meadows provide the setting for festivals and outdoor fun.
The Red Rooster Route is a self-guided tour of farming in the Stilly Valley. Visit Bryant Blueberry Farm’s u-pick blueberry and tayberry (blackberry meets raspberry) field, with a variety of berries for sale and gentle farm animals to entertain the kids. Mystic Mountain Nursery, a farm and bed and breakfast in Oso, hosts classes and events, offering tours of its gardens and farm animals. And, you can chat with the farmers and shop for local produce at Garden Treasures Nursery and Organic Farm.
Head to the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum to explore early settlers’ lives. On Saturdays from July to September, sample the Stilly Valley’s local food and arts at the Arlington Farmers Market.
Summer brings festival visitors to the Stilly Valley for music, culture and outdoor competition. Meet real cowboys at the Darrington Timberbowl Rodeo. Music lovers come for the popular Darrington Bluegrass Festival. The Summer Meltdown at Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheater offers four days of live music at the foot of Whitehorse Mountain.
The Arlington Airport hosts the annual Arlington Fly-In. Vintage airplanes fly overhead and aviation innovators show off their latest technology, with workshops and entertainment filling the airfield.
The Stillaguamish Tribe’s annual Festival of the River and Pow Wow celebrates music and cultural experiences for all ages. Arlington’s Fourth of July Frontier Day celebration has a nostalgic hometown feel, complete with a rubber duck race down the Stilly River.
The Stilly Valley’s natural setting provides abundant choices for outdoor activities. Bike the Centennial Trail from downtown Arlington 7 miles north to Nakashima Farm. Displays around the peaceful meadow and barn tell the story of a Stilly Valley farming family interned during World War II.
Schedule whitewater rafting or a scenic float trip with experienced guides at Adventure Cascades. Explore the Glacier Peak Wilderness on horseback with tours from Glacier Peak Pack Station.
The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest provides a variety of trails, including the popular twin waterfalls along the Boulder River Trail. For seasoned hikers, head up to Green Mountain Lookout for expansive views of Glacier Peak and the North Cascades.
On March 22, 2014, a mudslide devastated the town of Oso in the Stilly Valley. The routes affected by this tragedy have been reopened. The community’s spirit and strength has impressed the world and continues to attract visitors to support the area.
Where to Eat
Bistro San Martin, 231 N. Olympic Ave., Arlington, bistrosanmartin.com
Rhodes River Ranch, 22016 Entsminger Rd., Arlington, therestaurantatrhodesriverranch.com
Bluebird Café, 308 N. Olympic Ave., Arlington
Skookum Brewery, 17925A 59th Ave NE, Arlington, skookumbrewing.com
Farm Visits & More
Red Rooster Route, redroosterroute.com
Bryant Blueberry Farm, bryantblueberries.com
Mystic Mountain Nursery, mysticmountainbnb.com
Garden Treasures Nursery & Organic Farm, gardentreasuresfarm.com
Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum, stillymuseum.org
Arlington Farmers Market, afmwa.com
Darrington Timberbowl Rodeo (June 27 – 28, 2015), darringtonrodeogrounds.com
Darrington Bluegrass Festival (July 17 -19, 2015), c
Summer Meltdown at Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheater (Aug 6 – 9, 2015), summermeltdownfest.com
Arlington Fly-In (July 9 -11, 2015), arlingtonflyin.org
Stillaguamish Festival of the River (Aug. 8 – 9, 2015), festivaloftheriver.com
Arlington July 4th Frontier Day (July 4, 2015), arlingtonwa.gov
Centennial Trail, centennialtrail.com
Adventure Cascades, adventurecascades.com
Glacier Peak Pack Station, thepackstation.com
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, fs.usda.gov/mbs