Author Topic: Pacific Coast - 1st leg via San Juans, and then?  (Read 2096 times)

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Offline Rolling Wolf

Pacific Coast - 1st leg via San Juans, and then?
« on: June 26, 2012, 02:52:50 pm »
Next week we will be flying to Vancouver to bike the Pacific Coast route. However, for the 1st part we're still in doubt what to do. We could of course just stick with the ACA route, but we would also really like to see the San Juan islands.

So I have a few questions:
- is it possible to 'cross' the islands, starting in Vancouver and in the end joining the route again, or would you need to catch a ferry, circle an island, and cath another ferry to the next island?
- In other words, how would you go about 'doing' the San Juans in relation to the Pacific Coast route?
- is there any reason to not go for the san juans and just stick with the ACA route?
- some here on this forum said that the stretch south of Shelton isn't the most interesting. Are there better alternatives, in particular when coming from the San Juans?

Whatever way we're going, very much looking forward to it.

Offline CMajernik

Re: Pacific Coast - 1st leg via San Juans, and then?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2012, 05:12:16 pm »
You have several options....
Begin in Vancouver and ride south to Anacortes. From Anacortes, you can catch a ferry to Lopez Island, and from there you can ferry hop to Orcas and San Juan islands. Then you can go back to Anacortes and continue south. You will be riding onto Whidbey Island from there. Our WA Parks section 1 map shows this routing: http://adventurecycling.org/routes/washingtonparks.cfm?pg=detail&s=1

The San Juans are very scenic through hilly. If this is the only time you'll be in the area I'd cycle them. Bicyclists pay the passenger fare so it's much cheaper than automobiles. See the WA State ferries pages for more info: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/info_desk/route-maps/

If you don't want to return to Anacortes you can go to Sidney on Vancouver Island and ride south to Victoria (a very interesting city with lots to do). Then you can take another ferry to Port Angeles which is located on the Olympic Peninsula. The alternative to avoid Shelton would be to ride west and south along the Olympic Peninsula from Port Angeles. At Elma you can rejoin the Pacific Coast Route. That section 1 map I mentioned above will show you how to do that.

This might help you make up your mind also: http://www.visitsanjuans.com/what-to-do/san-juan-islands-bicycling
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Pacific Coast - 1st leg via San Juans, and then?
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2012, 06:20:08 pm »
Bicyclists pay the passenger fare so it's much cheaper than automobiles. See the WA State ferries pages for more info: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/info_desk/route-maps/

To clarify: a bicyclist would pay the passenger fare, plus a bicycle surcharge. Looks like surcharge for the Anacortes-San Juan ferries is $4, Anacortes-Sydney BC is $6. I think that's as expensive as the bicycle surcharge gets, other ferries are less. For example, for the Coupeville-Pt Townsend Ferry (which I believe is on the ACA Pacific Coast Route) is only 50¢.

BC Ferries and the Black Ball/Coho (Port Angeles-Victoria) also have bicycle surcharges.

Offline jamawani

Re: Pacific Coast - 1st leg via San Juans, and then?
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2012, 11:58:31 pm »
Actually, there are a number of ferry options not listed here.
Be aware that the BC and Wash State ferries are reasonable.
The private cruise connections run in the $100+ range.

Public only:

From Vancouver you can take the BC ferry to Sidney -
Then ride a mile over to the Wash ferry to the San Juans.
The Noon departure does NOT stop at Friday Harbor; the 5:55p DOES.
From Friday Harbor you can take ferries to other islands free.
Then take the ferry back to Anacortes.

From Anacortes I would head down Whidbey Island to Coupeville -
Then take the ferry to the fab town of Port Townsend.
I suggest US 101 down the Hood Canal -
Then cutting over from Sheldon to Montesano -
Finally taking US 101 down along Willapa Bay to Astoria - lovely!

Private ferry:
You can catch two different provate operators from Bellingham to Friday Harbor.
Also, you can catch a private ferry directly from Friday Harbor to Port Townsend.

Offline jamawani

Re: Pacific Coast - 1st leg via San Juans, and then?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 12:10:39 am »
PS - If you haven't been to the San Juan Islands, remember that they are very popular.
Also, that next week is the July 4th holiday.
Cammping will be very difficult to come by.
Lodging will be horribly expensive and practically unavailable.

Of the four islands, San Juan is the busiest.
Friday Harbor used to have a hostel - but the partying goes on all night.
There is a lovely campground on the west side of the island - availability?

Orcas is the next busiest and the state park is a good distance and uphill.
The state park does have hiker/biker camping and may not be full.

Lopez is my favorite - quiet but with village services - two campgrounds.
Both the state park and county campground accommodate cyclists.
(The beachside campsites at the state park are reserved months in advance -
The county park is a little more cyclist friendly.)
The village has a grocery and great bakery/cafe.

Shaw is the most remote island served by ferry.
There are NO commercial services on the island.
The small county park is likely to be filled.

<<<>>>

If you want to go to one of the other islands beside San Juan -
You can take the Noon ferry all the way to Anacortes and backtrack.
A little more, but you can get situated by mid afternoon.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Pacific Coast - 1st leg via San Juans, and then?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2012, 06:55:09 am »
- some here on this forum said that the stretch south of Shelton isn't the most interesting.
FWIW that was probably mostly me and yes it wasn't my favorite.  That said, I hear that some folks actually like that section, so it is hard to say how you will feel about it.  I've never done the San Juans so I can't comment on anything North of where I started (Seattle and the Ferry to Bremerton).

Offline Rolling Wolf

Re: Pacific Coast - 1st leg via San Juans, and then?
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2012, 05:39:28 am »
Thanks for all the info.
Would it also be necessary to make reservations for the biker campsites?

Offline jamawani

Re: Pacific Coast - 1st leg via San Juans, and then?
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2012, 12:07:14 pm »
I believe that they are first come - first served.
The county park at Lopez had cyclist overflow in picnic area.
Please verify yourself with Wash State Parks and San Juan County Parks.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Pacific Coast - 1st leg via San Juans, and then?
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2012, 04:32:38 pm »
- some here on this forum said that the stretch south of Shelton isn't the most interesting.

To most it isn't, but it's mostly because no matter how you do it, if you are riding the "inland" portion through Washington around the Puget Sound, you're going to have to go through some "non-coast" area to get to the actual coast. And while this area is rolling to hilly, it isn't really mountainous, not in the sense of the Cascades to the east. Pretty much any route between Shelton or Olympia on the Puget Sound to Astoria is going to be a mix of trees, rolling land, farms, small towns, hills in distance. Even crossing over the Coast Range in SW Washington isn't that big of a deal, as this is the lowest part of the Coast Range.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Pacific Coast - 1st leg via San Juans, and then?
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2012, 04:35:14 pm »
Would it also be necessary to make reservations for the biker campsites?

As jamawani noted, any hiker-biker site (at least in the Pacific NW) is first come, first served. But they usually aren't full. It's the general policy of state parks at least to find a spot for a touring cyclist even if the campground itself is technically full. Municipal/county campgrounds could be a different matter. Never hurts to check with the agency managing the campground in advance to see what the policy is. In the San Juans they should be used to us touring cyclists by now.