Author Topic: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring  (Read 7758 times)

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Offline r2thekesh

Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« on: January 29, 2012, 12:14:39 pm »
So I was planning on doing the PCR starting in Vancouver, and going north to about Powell River, taking the ferry across to Comox, traveling south to Victoria, ferry to Port Angeles and continuing south through Forks, Neilton, Astoria and further south. Any thoughts on this? I was also figuring if I got tired of going north, I could take a ferry earlier because there are so many ferry crossings.

Also, I was planning on starting in March. With stops at breweries, and National Parks at about 50 miles a day, staying with family/friends in SF, and ending in San Diego, I was looking to finish around the 2nd week of June. How crappy of weather am I going to hit? I'm okay with rain and cold. I have to do it in March because I start dental school in early July.

Offline VeloVeg

Re: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2012, 03:45:38 pm »
Sounds like a nice variation to an already great route. If you're "okay with rain and cold", then you won't be disappointed! The further south you ride, the less chance of rain--especially below SF and in April and beyond. But, I had morning temps in the 20s in April, with hard frost at Big Sur, Kirk Creek, San Simeon. Of course, each year is different.

Just FWIW, there are great hostels at San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Monterey (not really the best of the bunch, but OK), San Luis Obispo (SLO--friendly, cozy), Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, and San Diego (Point Loma--excellent). Makes for a nice variation to camping and motels, and you'll meet some great people from around the world. Breakfast is included in the price.

A few pics: ( http://www.bikewithamission.org/photos/section_one/index.html ).

Many safe journeys,

Ted

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2012, 05:06:45 pm »
r2thekesh, going north from Vancouver to Powell River takes 2-3 days at that mileage. It isn't boring, though you don't get many great views of the water. Going down Vancouver Island isn't bad either. But there are no ferry options between Langdale (port of entry to the Sunshine Coast) and Powell River to Vancouver Island. So you'd basically have to turn around if you got bored/tired of it.

As veloveg says, there will be plenty of rain in March, but if you can deal with that, you should be fine. Some campgrounds might not be open yet, so be prepared. As for Olympic National Park, much of the good stuff is anywhere from 10 to 20 miles one-way off route, so if you want to see all of this stuff, be prepared to take it slow through this area and do a lot of side trips.

There are several good breweries along the coast! I'm not too familiar with anything in Washington in that area (I'm guessing Port Angeles will have something), but there are a few good ones to recommend when you get to Oregon: Fort George in Astoria, Pelican Bay in Pacific City and Rogue in Newport.

Offline r2thekesh

Re: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2012, 05:26:36 pm »
For side trips into Olympic National Park, are those pretty much straight uphill or rolling? I was looking at taking Olympic Hot Springs road to Lake Mills. With the amount of rain I'm going to be seeing, I need to waterproof all my gear right? Map cases, cell phone case, etc.

Offline r2thekesh

Re: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2012, 06:55:35 pm »
One more quick question. I was planning on buying fresh fish at markets along the coast. Any advice on transporting it to my campsite without it spoiling?

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2012, 10:17:30 pm »
Yes on waterproofing any/everything. Ortliebs would be a good investment for that time of year!

Olympic Hot Springs Road from the 101 junction to (what's left of) Lake Mills is flat to rolling. Going beyond Lake Mills to Olympic Hot Springs is a constant steep upgrade, at least 8% if not more. I didn't take the side trip to Sol Duc so can't speak for that. The side trip to La Push is fairly flat, and the road to the Hoh Rainforest is rolling.

Offline Grumpybear

Re: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2012, 01:42:00 pm »
Might I suggest a book, “Bicycling the Pacific Coast” by Vicky Spring and Tom Kirkendall.

You will find the route you described and the book's are very close. I did the PCH in 2010 and found the book very helpful. As I rode down the coast at least 30-40% of the other tourers were also using the book as a guide. I think that you will also find that at 50 miles a day you should be able to finish the tour in a much shorter time unless of course you plan on long layovers.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2012, 04:42:18 pm »
Second the Spring/Kirkendall book. Though I would still recommend using either the ACA maps or other maps in conjunction, as they are easier to navigate from en route. The Oregon Department of Transportation prints a Coast bike map that was just updated, and this new edition is definitely an improvement on the older one!
http://rideoregonride.com/resources/

Offline valygrl

Re: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2012, 10:22:17 pm »
So, no offense, but I don't understand why you would try to force a tour into the wrong time of year.  You will almost certainly encounter a lot of rain and cold, which is not just, you know, wet and cold, but can be kind of dangerous too, as drivers won't be able to see you as well, there's more debris on the road, you get more flat tires, and to top it all off a bunch of the camp grounds will probably closed, and you won't meet any other bike tourists like you normally would.  Sure, you can tough it out, but will you enjoy it?

Why not take the constraint of your timing as the starting point, and pick a location that works well at that time?  Like maybe southern california/arizona/new mexico?

I dunno, my $0.02, YMMV, etc etc.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2012, 11:17:41 pm »
So, no offense, but I don't understand why you would try to force a tour into the wrong time of year.  You will almost certainly encounter a lot of rain and cold, which is not just, you know, wet and cold, but can be kind of dangerous too, as drivers won't be able to see you as well, there's more debris on the road, you get more flat tires, and to top it all off a bunch of the camp grounds will probably closed, and you won't meet any other bike tourists like you normally would.

Depends on your point of view, I guess.  I commute year round, so rain and cold are just part of the great outdoors for me.  Aside from accepting those, I think there's a couple things you may be missing.

First, "starting in March" doesn't necessarily mean, "starting March 1."  OP could, with the distance involved, start the last week in March, depending on mileage and stops.  As I understand it, winter storm season in the PNW winds down sometime in March.  A week or three where there's a risk (not a guarantee) of a storm hitting is a nowhere near planning to ride through three months of Aleutian Islands winter weather.

Second, the northwest coast is a rain forest.  If you're going to avoid rain at all costs, you'll never ride from Washington (or north of the border) south to northern California.  The best you can do is watch the weather forecast and be ready to take off for a week or two with minimal notice.  Not many of us can do that, and stopping a bike ride there when rain is in the forecast is a good bet to break up the rhythm of a long tour.

One last point is that tourist season seems to pick up in the summer, when school's out.  Spring and fall are often easier to deal with, traffic-wise, in touristy areas.  OP can ride in the spring?  What a great idea!

Offline JulieK

Re: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2012, 12:10:09 pm »
RE: Port Angeles area -- side trip to Lake Mills, etc

You will want to note that that area is closed to public access because of the Elwha dam removal project. I think that Olympic Hot Springs Road is supposed to remain closed until the Glines Canyon Dam is fully removed (in 2014, I think).  Lake Mills (and Lake Aldwell) are not really "lakes" any longer.... http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/upload/Elwha_area_closures_mills_v2.jpg

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2012, 03:01:56 pm »
You will want to note that that area is closed to public access because of the Elwha dam removal project. I think that Olympic Hot Springs Road is supposed to remain closed until the Glines Canyon Dam is fully removed (in 2014, I think).  Lake Mills (and Lake Aldwell) are not really "lakes" any longer.... http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/upload/Elwha_area_closures_mills_v2.jpg

I was wondering about that. I rode up there in 2010, the last year before the dam removal started It would be interesting to go there in 2014 or so to see the dam-less canyon!

Looking at the map, it looks like you could still access the two campgrounds before the dam, but getting to Olympic Hot Springs isn't possible without backcountry hiking. And I'm sure the Park Service wants it that way, as they've pretty much resolved themselves of any responsibility or liability for those hot springs.

Offline JulieK

Re: Pacific Coast Route with a British Columbia twist in the spring
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2012, 12:35:23 pm »
Yes, the road up the Elwha river is open as far as Altair. The closures are all about the dam removal project. Heavy equipment and tourists don't mix well. See the link for more info: (you can still get to Olympic Hot springs via a 14 mile hike over Appleton pass).

http://www.nps.gov/olym/parknews/olympic-hot-springs-road-to-close-south-of-altair-august-1.htm

The Sol Duc road is a nice ride. Rolling, with some uphill, but no big, long grinding climbs. Scenic. Look for some beaver dams on the east side of the road. There are also some spots with nice river views-- one, in particular, is a good place to watch salmon jump while going up river in the fall. (There's a parking lot there on the west side of the road-- you can't miss it).  If I remember right (it's been a couple years since I've ridden it) the steepest hill is beyond Sol Duc hotsprings. At the end of the road is a nice short hike to Sol Duc falls. (bikes aren't allowed on the trail, but if you have a cable lock, you can easily lock your bike to the backside of the big wooden sign at the trailhead). That road will be open again at the end of March 2012. The hot springs resort is pretty popular....and it has a poolside snack bar where you can buy hamburgers and such.  Depending on your financial perspective, it can either seem a little spendy...or a delightful respite.  All things are relative.

here's the link to current road openings/closures for Olympic National Park
http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/current-road-conditions.htm