On Sunday, June 8, 2008, we drove the length of Washington State Highway 9, almost a hundred miles long, from the Seattle area north to the Canadian border. This is the road to take if you want to get out of the country, but not as fast as I-5 would take you.
State route No. 9:
A state highway to be known as state route number 9 is established as follows:
Beginning at a junction with state route number 522 north of Woodinville, thence northerly by way of Snohomish, Arlington and Sedro Woolley to a junction with state route number 542, in the vicinity of Deming; also
Beginning at a junction with state route number 542, in the vicinity of Lawrence, thence northerly to the international boundary at Sumas.
SR 9 starts at a junction with SR 522 (as the quoted text above says). It's right near a Costco.
A couple miles later, we arrive at the junction with SR 524. This junction has a unique structure for the traffic lights: a giant steel tube (rather like the power poles to the right) stretches diagonally across the intersection. All the lights and signs simply attach to that. Simple yet big. I wonder whose idea it was. . .
Heading down into the Snohomish River valley, we encounter SR 96, one of only two "secondary" routes associated with Highway 9. The other is coming up soon.
Quickly out of the valley on the north side (Highway 9 has a tendency to head due north for long stretches of time), we arrive at the junction with US 2.
Here we are at Lake Stevens, at the junction with SR 204. You head through this junction on your way to and from the great hiking up the Mountain Loop Highway.
Shortly thereafter, the junction with SR 92. This is the other "secondary" route for Highway 9 and also is the highway to take to get to the Mountain Loop Highway. SR 92 and the Mountain Loop Highway are non-coincidental, by the way.
Out on the Snohomish plateau, SR 528 will take you back to I-5. Head west, young man. Or not.
Almost to Arlington, the junction with SR 531.
SR 9 is odd for a two-lane highway, in that it goes around cities like Snohomish and Arlington, instead of heading straight through them. This junction with SR 530 is right at the edge of town, but you'd never know it.
A short while later, the junction with SR 530 for travel eastward. Once again, we're right beside downtown Arlington. It's just to the right. Somewhere.
Just after the tiny town of McMurray, we come across the junction with SR 534. Yeah, it's kinda hard to find, but I think we'll be going back one of these days.
Past Big Lake, Highway 9 dips down toward the Skagit River. Almost there, we come across a roundabout in the middle of the woods. This would be the junction with SR 538.
At the west end of Sedro Woolley (originally named Bug), SR 9 joins SR 20. For the next mile, the two highways share the same pavement.
At the east end of Sedro Woolley, SR 9 leaves SR 20. Which do you want: north or east? Canada or the North Cascades?
A half hour northward, SR 9 comes to an end at SR 542. "But wait," you say. "Doesn't Highway 9 go to Canada?" Why yes, it does. But there's a gap.
A few miles west on SR 542, Highway 9 resumes. This is the view from the south side of Highway 542, looking north up 9.
After a stop sign and left turn, SR 9 crosses the railroad tracks and hangs a right, between the gas stations. If you accidentally go straight, you're on SR 544. Welcome to Nooksack.
We're getting up near the border now. If you take a right at the school here, you're still on SR 9. If you turn left, you're on SR 546.
And here's Sumas, the border town. SR 547 is the next left.
Welcome to Canada! Or not. We managed to turn back south after crossing the border, but before getting to Canadian customs. . . . The American guards were a bit suspicious, though.
There you go, Washington State Highway 9. Farms, hills, and lots of straight stretches.