Author Topic: Pacific Coast Route Camping  (Read 12639 times)

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Offline cgarch

Pacific Coast Route Camping
« on: December 19, 2008, 05:40:01 pm »
Michelle and I plan to ride from Port Angeles, WA to home here in Santa
Rosa, CA in July of 09 (after the NWTR). We'll be on the tandem pulling
a BOB and expect to camp most of the way down. We have not bike-
camped before so I have a couple of questions on the subject. Do the
hiker-biker sites ever fill up? if so, do the park folks tell you to move
on? Or does everyone just get real cozy in those sites? Other than this,
we're really looking forward to a grand adventure after too many years
of driving portions of the route and being in complete envy of those
riding it.

Any comments about traveling on amtrak with the tandem and the BOB
would be welcome as well. Thanks.

Santa Rosa, CA

This message was edited by cgarch on 12-19-08 @ 6:20 PM

Offline WesternFlyer

Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2008, 02:48:37 am »
The general rule I have observed at the hiker/biker camps is Share.  First come gets first choice of camp sites, but no one is turned away.  

I think Amtrak charges tandems as oversize baggage, which I believe is $50.00.  That is only $10.00 more than two singles but you have to supply your own bike box.  I don't know how the trailer would be charged.  Also Amtrak stops in Seattle and not Port Angeles.  

There are at least eight possible routes to get to Port Angeles from Seattle.  An interesting possibility is to take the Victoria Clipper to Victoria on Vancouver Island and then take the Black Ball ferry to Port Angeles.  It would give you a total of five city blocks of riding from the train station to Port Angeles plus taking in a foreign country and a very scenic boat ride.  I have taken both ferries on separate bike trips and they are quite nice.

Western Flyer

We must ride light and swift.  It is a long road ahead.

King Theoden
Western Flyer

We must ride light and swift.  It is a long road ahead.

King Theoden

Offline cgarch

Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2008, 11:45:36 am »
Thanks for the info. Have already planned to disembark Amtrak at
Seattle and spend the night, depending on what time Amtrak arrives.
The next day we will take the ferry over to Bainbridge and ride to
Sequim to spend the night. Next day we will ride to PA and then ferry
over to Victoria. We're going for the adventure of it all.

I looked at several different schemes to get to Victoria but none of
them made much sense w/o spending lots of $$. Seems odd to me
that the public transit link breaks down to the north. I had hoped I
could catch the Cascade to Mt. Vernon but there is no baggage service
at that location. Would have been nice to ride to Anacortes and pick up
the ferry from there.

We took the tandem to CO in September but that trip I broke it down
and was able to fit it in a single bike box. They did not charge extra on
that trip. This trip though it will be assembled minus the usual stuff
and my understanding is that they will take it as regular baggage as
long as it meets the 50lb weight limit. Should be easy to do. I'll let you
know how this goes later next year.

In regards to hiker/biker sites that was what I suspected so this is good
to have this confirmed. Thanks much,


Offline PeteJack

Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2008, 12:07:26 pm »
An alternative may be to take the train from Seattle to Mount Vernon and ride the ACA Washington Parks Section 1 route to PA. This is a lovely route along the north coast: you can camp at Deception Pass State Park, then get an early start, ride over Deception Pass and down Whidbey Island to Keystone, take the ferry to Port Townsend (worth a visit) thence to PA. This route has the advantages of (a) being scenic, including the lovely ferry ride (b)a big chunk is on a trail into PA and (c)you avoid the horrible Hood Canal Floating Bridge, a frenzied nightmare with no shoulder.

Offline PeteJack

Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2008, 02:36:42 pm »
I'll further add that I had no trouble taking my bike on the train to Mt Vernon last year. There is a baggage car: you have to unload your bike yourself when in Mt V.. The conductor was most helpful

Offline geegee

Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2008, 07:37:16 pm »
Just make sure you arrive at the Amtrak station in advance to check in
your bike. They can refuse unboxed bikes.

I had a terrible experience in Whitefish MT when I showed up at the
station 45 minutes before departure but there was a long lineup at the
baggage counter and the guy took his sweet time checking people's
bags in. I was the next one in line when the train pulled in (15 minutes
before departure) and he closed the window on me and said I had to
wait for the next train, which was in two days! I was so mad, after
riding in the cold wet Montana autumn that this pencil-pusher
nonchalantly expected me to wait out a couple of days in an expensive
town just because he could not spend an extra few seconds writing me
out a tag  for my bike (which was lready preped for packing). Livid, I
hauled my bike up to the coach and refused to budge because I had a
paid reservation for both me and the bike. I explained my situation to
the conductor, and he ordered the baggage guy to reopen the counter
and write my tag. Of course he did it slow and said I had to buy a box,
and probably snickered as I barely made it into the baggage car
struggling with the bike and the box separately. I never boxed the
bike, as I got into the baggage car the train pulled out of the station
and I just secured it inside the roomy box car.

Offline cgarch

Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2008, 11:46:57 pm »
Thanks to both for your replies. Again my concern is wrestling the tandem and the bob back on the train early the next day for Mt Vernon. It would be worth considering if I
don't have to have the tandem and BOB still boxed. Our lodging (Green Tortoise hostel) currently is about 10+ blocks away from the station, so we planned to ride there,
essentially making the morning ferry trip to Eagledale pretty straightforward. Hood Canal Bridge will be closed in May and June for the second half of its widening and
upgrade so I expect that that crossing will not be as treacherous as has been previously reported by the time we arrive in July.

When we brought our boxed tandem to the Amtrak station in Martinez for our September trip, the agents there were most helpful. We stopped and checked in with the station
agents about a month before our actual departure to make sure of the process since we were in the area. We probably didn't need to do that since the entire process went
smoothly, both outbound and inbound (coming back from Grand Junction). Having said that I know that others have had less than pleasant experiences. Clearly getting there
early helps. Geeg's experience seems quite outrageous.

Again thanks for the input.


Offline Westinghouse

Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2008, 08:14:44 am »
I was always able to get into a hiker-biker campsites on the PCBR. I believe there was a three day limit for use which should be enough time to see the local attractions. I only stayed overnights, and kept going the next morning because it was such a great ride. You might want to try hostels or motels in or near large cities.

I have read there are some homeless persons who bike from campsite to campsite, stay their limit, and leave. I met one such person in a H-B site in southern California. He was very clearly not a cycling tourist, just a hobo or bum. One look at his bike and general demeanor said all that needed to be said on that matter. That's the way it goes sometimes. He did not bother anyone. However, I did see some more respectable, upright people  filthing the H-B camping area by having their pet dogs deposit their waste there.

The PCBR is a tough, but also a very great ride. It is Americana writ large. I believe American society in general is somehow diminished by not having done it by bicycle. It would cause a general, overall improvement in American society if everyone could do it who were able. But of course I know it will never be, so it is left to us, the small minority, to pass the word along to others. Some will do it and others will stay home.

If you can cycle the PCBR at least once in your life---By ALL MEANS DO IT!

Offline dfege

Re: Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2009, 08:52:08 pm »
I have cycled the PCBR from Astoria to San Diego, parts of it more than once.  The hiker-biker sites tend not to fill up, and there is usually enough space.  I found the sites in Oregon to be fabulous.  I also found more bikers there.  Some nites you form a little community and eat and tell stories until you can't stay awake anymore.  In southern CA (sounds like you're not going that far), the homeless tend to congregate.  At some of the state campgrounds here in San Diego, there have done away with the hiker-biker sites for that reason.  Hope you have a great trip.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2009, 01:07:31 pm »
The hiker/biker sites are wonderful.  We paid between $2-$5 every night in Oregon and California.  We rode the route in June/July of 2005, and the sites were never crowded, until Southern California where itinerants sometimes "live" in them.  Generally, the sites were clean and  had a friendly feel.  Bring quarters for showers.  We enjoyed hot showers every night.  Washington does not have the hiker/biker site system, unfortunately.  You have to pay way more, like $10-$20 per night, often the same as a car.  It would be nice if the rest of the country would get on board and encourage bike travel with better deals for bikes.  After all, we don't in any way cause the impact a car does.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline rcrampton

Re: Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2009, 01:36:59 pm »
As the others said, the campgrounds in Oregon are unbelievable, particularly for the money for hiker/biker sites. Some of the nicest I've stayed in across the US. Washington was very nice as well. I ran into very few mosquitos in WA until the very south and then had them throughout Oregon. Not sure if that's typical but that's what I saw.

I wouldn't expect to see the hiker/biker sites fill up but I've generally been off season. Most (all?) of the ones we stayed in didn't have designated spots #1,2,3, they were just an area.

It was a great ride. Didn't really see much actual cost in Washington but got a lot of it in Oregon. WA was must more remote, OR was fairly busy traffic-wise in comparison.

One of my all-time favorite tours.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2009, 04:07:49 am »
Yes, the HB sites are just fine. I never had any complaints with them. Usually, as far as I could see, people who are out cycling the pacific coast are  pretty good. There is no problem with the company. The sites are large enough, and as prices go they are very reasonable. Many state parks have showers. Try getting a campsite on the east coast for a few dollars a night.

Offline MrBent

Re: Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2009, 08:16:28 pm »
You've got the scoop on hiker/biker--one of the great things about the coast.  I'm not a fan of the Oregon coast as far as cycling is concerned, at least during prime summer season.  My wife and I found the traffic to be astronomical and vowed to never return as cyclists.  If you're going during the summer, brace yourselves for constant, noisy traffic.  The towns and campgrounds are fantastic, however, so there are compensations.  For our tastes, the riding stank--except in the few places where the route leaves the main highway.  These were dreamy nice.  I suggest doing the bulk of your riding before noon.  Super early starts and finishing by 10am might be ideal. 

Have a great ride!  The Avenue of the Giants in California is the road gods' gift to cyclists.



Offline Westinghouse

Re: Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2009, 12:26:58 pm »
Yes, I must admit. The west coast is really quite good for cycling. I thoroughly enjoyed it. At tour's end I was genuinely saddened because it was over.
I got a big write-up, a major feature article in a newspaper in south Florida after that tour. It had photos from near Coose Bay, Oregon, Orick, CA, Big Sur, DEl Norte Coast Redwood State Park, and a national forest area.

Offline cookdoggie

Re: Pacific Coast Route Camping
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2009, 12:52:49 am »
Not sure if this has been completely covered or not, but a quick note on the Amtrak service in the northwest.  If you're on a Cascades train they have bike racks in the baggage car and you don't have to box anything up.  You can load/unload at any stop on the route, whether or not stations exist or baggage service is provided.  It's very convenient compared to the rest of the Amtrak system.  So taking Cascades to Mt Vernon is a great option and that route from there through Victoria would be very scenic.  If you take the train up from Seattle, ask for seats on the left side of the train for the best scenery.  Good luck on your trip.