View Full Version : San Juan Islands Bike Tour?
08-03-2009, 10:09 AM
Hey all you knowledgeable bikers,
I am planning a bike-based Labor Day weekend trip all around the various San Juan Islands, using ferries and bike camping. I plan to drive near there from portland and then park my car somewhere,?? then bike around each island and then take ferries...
Does anyone have suggestions for a good route/tour as far as a multi-day bike tour where we could hit a bunch of the islands and have cool bike camping sites, things to do/see, etc? Please include as much detail as possible. I will most likely be doing this as a 3-night adventure /4 day adventure.
Having trouble finding something online...
When I went up last year, It was cheaper to take the car over to an island on the ferry (with 2 people in the car and 2 bikes on the back), rather than pay to park in the official lots. There is a surcharge for tall loads, so beware of bikes on roof racks which would bump you up to the higher cost. Inter-island travel is free as I recall, both on bike or car, once you pay for your initial trip. But you won't have to wait in a long line if you're on a bike!
There was another thread on here earlier this summer about biking the San Juan Islands. Had some good info...
Three threads come up in this forum when you search for San Juan; there's some good info in them.
The Washington State Ferries website has lots of info. For example, for the Anacortes terminal, there is info on parking, shuttles from SeaTac/Seattle, bicycle loading procedure, etc.
There are inter-island fares, but a round-trip ticket to Sydney allows multiple on/offs on the eastbound leg (if I'm reading their fares table correctly):
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/fares/ and http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/pdf/CurrentFares.pdf
Googling for "San Juan Island parks" turned up some info, including http://www.sanjuanco.com/parks/ and http://www.sanjuansites.com/thingstodo/parks/island.htm .
08-03-2009, 07:17 PM
insta, i'd highly recommend the county park campsite on the west side of San Juan Island, an absolutely beautiful location with a view of Vancouver island and the Olympic Mts. Did some riding on Orcas,too, but not as good - the road from Eastsound over to Moran State Park is not especially enjoyable due to fairly heavy traffic. There's a San Juan Islands recreation guide that shows all the roads and is quite useful.
Time permitting, taking the AMTRAK Cascades to Seattle, and the Victoria Clipper passenger ferry to Friday Harbor is a hell of a lot more fun than driving I-5. It does cost a bit more, but well worth it.
08-18-2009, 01:18 PM
thanks all (and particularly bikey),
i'll definitely try the county park campsite and report back how it was. If you were to do one weekend there, what route would you do and where would you camp? I'll obviously take your recommendation below of where to camp. Do you think I should use that as my base camp and then bike around each day from there, or is there another camp you recommend going to also?
I'm thinking of driving to Anacortes since I heard the trainstop is 20 miles away from the ferry (according to a lady I spoke with from one of the san juan recreation websites), then taking a ferry to the San Juan Island. Maybe I'll just skip Orcas though I heard they have good climbs and views and it's wooded. I'm surprised you don't recommend it. I heard it was wooded and pretty, but difficult (I'm not in amazing shape yet)
08-19-2009, 06:32 AM
insta, Orcas was nice riding - except the eastern part out toward the state park, which was heavy traffic -- I'd avoid that. I've heard that Lopez is nice, quiet riding, with a good county park campground. So, depending on ferry timing and length of your stay, I'd circumnavigate San Juan island (camp one night at the park on the west side), hop over to Lopez, camp 1 or 2 nights there at the Co. park (near the ferry landing) - not sure if there's a County park on Orcas (?) but if so i might add that as a stopover and ride the west end of the island, where there's some good back roads.
have a great time -!
08-26-2009, 09:01 PM
Looks like I'm once again a bad planner. If I'm reading it right San Juan Islands is already pretty booked (duh) for campgrounds. I don't see anything that says they allow folks just to show up with their bikes, like they do in Portland at Vernonia.
I already rented a bike for my sister (great deal) from Citybikes, so I'm going to have to figure out Plan B -- perhaps just bike around San Juan Island and then camp at Lopez or Orcas only.... Thanks all..anyemore plan b ideas would be good, particularly recommendations on where to camp (specifics would be great)
Hey, if it's just a couple of you traveling light, bring your best smile and a bottle of good hootch, take a scenic tour of the campground and see if you can't find some like-minded folks to split a site. ;) Good luck!
09-01-2009, 06:49 AM
I have bike toured San Juan Island a couple of times and would do it again. I recommend parking at ferry terminal in Anacortes, that way you don't have to wait in long lines to board the ferry with car. Parking is immediately adjacent to Ferry dock and info is available at Washington State Ferry Site. As far as availability of campsites, I was told by camp manager that if you bike to county park he will find a spot for you, and no one will be turned away. I believe its about 11 miles out to the site, with some long hills, and roads are at times a little narrow, but lots of bikers are out there so you should feel reasonably safe. There are no stores out there so buy what you need in Friday Harbor and carry it to the site. Also no showers available at the campsite. Showers may be available at marina at Roche Harbor. Loop around island is approx. 30 miles. You'll want to check Ferry schedules but you should be able to board morning Ferries to either Orcas or Lopez, do a bike tour, and return on evening ferries back to San Juan. Bring bike lights in case you need to ride before sunrise to catch ferry or return late. You pay to ferry from Anacortes to San Juan then all inter-island ferry trips are free until you return to Anacortes. Don't miss Orcas, the roads are no more narrow than San Juan and the scenery is worth the effort. If in shape plan on climbing 2450 foot Mt Constitution, the view is spectacular when weather co-operates. Lopez is by far the most mellow, and autos are extra nice to bikers. All island loop tours average 30 to 40 miles of rolling hills, the continuous up and down require you be in reasonable shape to enjoy. I recommend getting the book, "Bicycling the BackRoads around Puget Sound" by Erin and Bill Woods. Enjoy!
03-10-2010, 07:15 PM
Last year I planned on biking the San Juan Islands and posted here too. I ended up doing the trip and documenting it here on Yahoo trips
I had a Garmin forerunner and recorded my entire route.
Don't worry about not having a campground. I went the week before the 4th of July, the busiest time, and camped in the biker camping spots that are first come first serve. I didn't have any problem finding a campsite. As long as you have good weather this trip is amazing. Feel free to contact me if you need any information. I'm planning on doing this trip again this summer.
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