Author Topic: Pacific Coast Route  (Read 3600 times)

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Offline chuckles81

Pacific Coast Route
« on: December 12, 2011, 06:42:27 pm »
I am from the UK and looking at doing the Pacific Coast Route from north to south next year. I am looking at doing it in September. Is this a good time of the year to do it in or will it be too cold up north in September? What are other good times in the year to do it if starting in the north. I am hoping to do it solo or is this not advisable? As I will be limited in time, is 4 to 5 weeks ample to complete this route? Any advice would be much appreciated.

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2011, 08:29:22 pm »
There is a good deal of information here already. You might start with this topic http://www.adventurecycling.org/forums/index.php?topic=9808, which asks about October but gets some replies useful in September. That is just one return from a search for Pacific Coast made from the main page that lists all the forum groups. Try it and come back to ask about areas where you want to hear more.

Fred

Offline staehpj1

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2011, 07:04:24 am »
I did the coast in September of this year and think that it was a great time to go.  The traffic dies off after Labor day and the temperature is usually nice (probably not below 40F or above 85F).  You will have fog for portions of most days, but probably not much rain.  I had one day of rain the whole trip.  Spring through fall are OK, but I thought it was about as good as it gets in September unless you mind a little fog.  Summer would mean more traffic and more likely heat.

This is a great route to do solo because once in Oregon and California you will meet other tourists every day if you stay in the hiker/biker sites.  I camped with folks I had met earlier most nights and some of us got to be good friends.  I think that once in Oregon there were always at least two other cyclists sharing camp and once I think there was about twenty.  At one point the whole gang ordered pizza and we had a group pizza party.  The hiker biker sites were a fun time.

Offline chuckles81

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2011, 02:25:10 pm »
Thanks for the advice staehpj1 . When you did this route where did you start from? I am looking at starting in Vancouver. How long did it take for you to complete this route? As I mentioned before that I will be limited to being able to do it in 4 to 6 weeks. Is this a decent amount of time to complete this in. I am going to buy the map from ACA for the Pacific Coast Route. Are there enough campsites along this route as I plan to only be camping as I want to complete this at the most minimal of costs. What are the climbs like on this journey? I apologise about all the questions but I just want to find out as much as I can before I do this.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2011, 03:00:08 pm »
I started in Seattle and stopped near San Luis Obispo, so I did not do the whole coast.  That portion took me 25 days, but I did not push too hard.  I was often in camp already in the early afternoon.

The climbing is pretty constant, but there are no real mountains.  It does roll up and down a lot though.  I think the highest it got was something like 2000 ft.

Offline bobbys beard

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2011, 05:09:45 pm »
4-5 weeks is more than enough. you'll be able to really chill out and keep the miles quite low. the coastal section of route 1 was so nice, i sometimes only managed 10 miles before setting up camp again.  i did south to north early this september and it was mostly very pleasant. hardly any rain and not a lot of wind in either direction. at the weekends the campsites were often full up in places and a few of them were also starting to close up for the winter. if you're headong south, the weather should stay nice for you as the fall draws in.

Offline chuckles81

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2011, 06:10:32 pm »
Thanks Bobby. I will be starting in Vancouver and finishing in Imperial Beach. I will buy the map from ACA and according to the website this route using their map the distance is 1853 miles so hopefully 4-5 weeks will be enough. This will be my first time riding in the states and also going solo. I have trying to find out what camping costs are like but to no avail. i am trying to come up with a budget for this trip. Any idea what camping costs are like on this route. I know each campsite will probably have a different price but if I could have a rough estimate that would be great. Also do I need to book these campsites or can I just show up and hope there is space.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2011, 06:51:20 pm »
Any idea what camping costs are like on this route. I know each campsite will probably have a different price but if I could have a rough estimate that would be great. Also do I need to book these campsites or can I just show up and hope there is space.
I stayed mostly in hiker biker sites and they were mostly somewhere in the $4-$6 range.  In California showers were not included, they were coin operated.  I never made a reservation nor did I need to.  Call ahead to be sure that they are open and if they have hiker biker sites.  Hiker/biker sites do not fill and do not require any reservation.

FWIW, I wasn't crazy about the AC route for the portion I rode in Washington State.  I think a more coastal route would be nicer.

BTW, in Astoria, pick up the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Pacific Coast map.  The bike shop there usually has them.  It is free and is probably better to use as you ride than the Adventure Cycling map.  It is probably worth having the AC map as well though since it has a lot of info about services other than just state parks.

I will add that Oregon and it's state parks are probably the nicest anywhere.

You might get stuck paying more some places, but maybe not.  Private camp grounds can be very expensive in some places.  Then again we found a KOA that was only was $10 for hikers and bikers and had all kinds of nice amenities (pool, hot tub, cooking stations, and so on).  It was well worth the cost.  On the other hand some RV type places can be really crummy and expensive.  If you call ahead (or camp with someone else who does) it will probably be easy to stay in hiker biker sites all or nearly all of the time.  I never called ahead but stay with a group who usually did many of the days.

One caveat...  I can only speak for the portion that I rode.

Offline chuckles81

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2011, 01:47:49 am »
Thanks again Staehpj1 for the information. Is there a reason why you did not enjoy the portion that you rode through Washington state? If I was to change my route slightly to avoid the washington state part and do a more coastal part would i have to get another map or does the ACA map show an alternative route.

I think that I will call the campsites in advance to make sure that there are spaces available and to make sure they are not closing down for the winter. Do you think there many people cycling this route at the time of the year that I am going to be doing it. It would be great to meet a few other cyclists on the way.

Are there any particular highlights that you might recommend that I should stop and appreciate along the way. Being that I have never been to the united states before most of it will be a highlight to me. I have also decided that I am going to do this tour to raise awareness for a charity that is pretty close to my heart here in the UK. I thought that as this is my first time to do a tour of this size and I am sure there are some challenging parts to it, I might as well also do it for a good cause. I have wanted to cycle a long tour for about 2 years now and finally going to do it. If I enjoy this one I will be looking at doing the transam in 2013.

Do you know if the maps supplied by ACA are good maps or are there other ones you might suggest that I use?

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2011, 06:52:22 am »
I'd like to chime in with my experience on the PCR. I found the Washington State part to be different--neither coastal nor mountainous, but rolling hills in agricultural land. Not spectacular, but pretty. It has more services, campsites, and motels than the coastal area, which may be why ACA chose it.

The ACA maps are the best in the world for cycling in my opinion, which seems to be the unanimous impression here. We supplement them with state road maps--low cost or free and readily available--when we want to go off route. Search the forum for "maps" to read many opinions and descriptions.

I'll recommend a side trip to Yosemite National Park. Arguably the most spectacular scenery on the continent, it is two days' ride each way through the flat, boring California Central Valley, but definitely worth every minute. It's a valley of 1 - 1.5 km width with vertical granite cliffs on both sides that are 0.3 - 0.8 km high. If El Capitan were laid on its side, it would fill the valley.

You will meet many rock climbers at the hiker-biker campground, as this is the Mecca of North American climbing. Run a Google Images search on Yosemite to get some idea of the place.

Highlights of the PCR for me: San Juan Islands in Washington (ride up Mt. Constitution for great views), the Oregon dunes (up and down over 150m - 300m headlands), the coastal redwood groves, Yosemite, and the Big Sur coastline. September is a good time to be there, after the crowding has abated.

Fred

Offline staehpj1

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2011, 07:56:32 am »
Thanks again Staehpj1 for the information. Is there a reason why you did not enjoy the portion that you rode through Washington state? If I was to change my route slightly to avoid the washington state part and do a more coastal part would i have to get another map or does the ACA map show an alternative route.

It wasn't especially scenic and I did not find there were that many good choices of campsites.  Personal preference of course.
Check out this thread:
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/772166-Journal-of-my-12-day-tour-from-Bellingham-WA-to-Newberg-OR?p=13304049&highlight=#post13304049

The route I took in Washington wasn't bad, but it definitely wasn't my favorite.  They guy in the thread above departed from the AC route in Southern Washington and his route looked nicer to me.   I didn't find that there were very many nice non commercial campsites and I tend to avoid commercial campgrounds, especially RV parks.  I met some guys from Washington state and when I commented that I would have just as soon started in Astoria Oregon, their comment was, "We live in Washington and drive to Astoria to start".

I personally might start in Astoria if doing the route again if the border to border thing was not important to me.

Bear in mind that my comments are based on my start in Seattle so I can't speak for the more northern part of Washington.

Do you think there many people cycling this route at the time of the year that I am going to be doing it. It would be great to meet a few other cyclists on the way.

Yes for sure in Oregon and California if you stay in the hiker/biker sites and maybe in Washington as well.

Are there any particular highlights that you might recommend that I should stop and appreciate along the way.

Most of them will be obvious.  The coast is stunning.  On the suggestion to see Yosemite... That is a pretty big detour (maybe 400 extra miles?), but yes it is one of the most amazing places I have visited.  If you decide to detour there, I think there is a daily bus from Fresno.  You might look into that as it would make the detour a bit shorter.

Do you know if the maps supplied by ACA are good maps or are there other ones you might suggest that I use?

They are great maps!  That said, in Oregon for use while riding I preferred the map from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).  It allowed looking at the contours while riding and was easier to look up the state park hiker/biker sites on.  The AC map does have a lot of additional information and I would recommend you get both.  I picked up the (free) ODOT pacific coast bicycle map at a bike shop in Astoria. 
Go to http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/oregon_coast_bike_route_map.pdf
for an ODOT map, not sure if it is the same as the print version.  If memory serves the print version was in a bigger scale, but I am not sure.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2011, 08:00:51 am by staehpj1 »

Offline cgarch

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2011, 01:00:05 pm »
The route I took in Washington wasn't bad, but it definitely wasn't my favorite.  They guy in the thread above departed from the AC route in Southern Washington and his route looked nicer to me.   I didn't find that there were very many nice non commercial campsites and I tend to avoid commercial campgrounds, especially RV parks.  I met some guys from Washington state and when I commented that I would have just as soon started in Astoria Oregon, their comment was, "We live in Washington and drive to Astoria to start".

S'pose I'll toss in my experience as well. We started in Seattle (July) but rode NW towards Port Angeles with a side trip to Victoria. Upon our return we headed west across the top of the Olympic Peninsula following US101 continuing south to Astoria. You can read all about it here http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/TWS. The one thing you are guaranteed of, following the WA coast, is the likelihood of rain. The ACA route in WA stays inland, in the rain shadow of the Olympics. IMO, the WA coast, such as it is, can be an amazing place. There are stretches of clear cut that will bore you and ancient rain forest that will amaze you. How much of this you get to see will depend on your time frame and willingness to explore. The coast at Kalaloch is a worthy stop. There are sufficient camp sites to make this a practical journey. ACA also has a nice set of maps for this, Washington Parks, I believe, though we didn't necessarily follow that course.

YMMV
Craig

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2011, 07:42:34 pm »
By far the best way to do the WA part is to cross Puget Sound (ferries) and go out to Port Angeles then west to Forks, south to Aberdeen, west to Montesano, south to Raymond and then south to Astoria.  I have ridden this and it's great (if not raining).  You really do the coast that way.  Be careful around Lake Cresent (between Port Angeles and Forks)--narrow and windy and little shoulder.  Use a mirror there!  I did this in July and had no problem.  It's true about lots of hills on the whole coast.  It rolls for almost the whole trip.  It's a great ropute, but I'd prefer climbing a big pass and be done with it.  On the coast, I had some problems with never getting into a rhythm because of the continuous rolling.  Still worth it, though!
May the wind be at your back!

Offline dkoloko

Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2011, 01:47:45 pm »
Sept would not be too cold. Expect some rain. State and county campgrounds may have hiker-biker sites; $5 or so a night. Some campgrounds may be closed, depending on when you start. Some campgrounds are "primitive"; outhouse; no showers. Tip: if campground is full, may still accommodate you as a bicyclist. Ask before continuing on.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2011, 12:20:00 am »
Quote
S'pose I'll toss in my experience as well...The one thing you are guaranteed of, following the WA coast, is the likelihood of rain...IMO, the WA coast, such as it is, can be an amazing place. There are stretches of clear cut that will bore you and ancient rain forest that will amaze you. How much of this you get to see will depend on your time frame and willingness to explore.

I agree with cgargh. Going the "long way" around the Olympic Peninsula can be great, but the key thing is to plan on exploring off the route. My girlfriend and I did an Olympic Peninsula tour in July of 2010. It was awesome! We planned on exploring as much of the area as possible. There are not that many things in Olympic National Park easily accessible from US 101 (the main route). Lake Crescent, Lake Quinault, and the beaches around Kalaloch come to mind. Everything else is a 10 to 20 mile (15 to 30 km) one-way side trip off the route. If you don't take the time to take side trips to places like Olympic Hot Springs, Sol Duc Hot Springs, Ruby Beach, or the Hoh Rain Forest, you'll mostly see various stages of forest, a couple small towns, and not much else. (101 stays inland except for the section around Kalaloch.)

And we managed to hit it off with weather--we had no rain on the trip. That was late July, though. September should have some rain.