Bicycling the Pacific Coast  by Vicky Spring & Tom Kirkendall

Bicycling the Pacific Coast Guide Book

by Vicky Spring & Tom Kirkendall (The Mountaineers Books)
Bicycling the Pacific Coast  by Vicky Spring & Tom Kirkendall
From Vancouver, B.C. to the Mexican border, Tom Kirkendall and Vicky Spring guide you turn by turn along the length of Pacific Coast Bicycle Route-all 1987.3 miles. Everything you need to know about planning each day's ride is included in this updated guide: from tunnel-riding strategies and where to buy a new derailer to one-of-a-kind museums along the way to side trips to lonely lighthouses and towering sand dunes. These 42 suggested daily itineraries (averaging 53 miles each) begin and end at campsites. New to this edition is a quick-glance Table of Essentials for each daily itinerary, listing availability of bike shops, beach access, hiking trails, youth hostels, and activities.

© 2005 Vicky Spring and Tom Kirkendall/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 42.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 42.

The short ride from the Anacortes ferry dock to Old Fort Townsend State Park is designed to allow plenty of time in the morning for the long, leisurely ferry trip from Sidney or one of the San Juan Islands to Anacortes and later in the day a second ferry ride from Keystone to Port Townsend. The route to the Keystone/Port Townsend ferry dock travels over Fidalgo Island, across Deception Pass, and on to Whidbey Island. Do not expect the same island feeling found in the San Juans. Both Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island are securely linked to the mainland and bustle with activity from several large towns and a naval air base at Oak Harbor. To avoid the busy main highway on Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands, most of this ride is on the back roads. Scenery varies from forest to beautiful views west over Puget Sound to the Olympics and east to the snow- and ice-capped Cascade Range.
Anacortes, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 41.1
The journey through Washington ends at the Columbia River, just a few miles inland from its turbulent terminus at the Pacific Ocean. This scenic area is rich in history. Native Americans lived and fished here for thousands of years before European explorer Captain Robert Gray charted the location of the river mouth in 1792. In 1805, Lewis and Clark ended their long western trek to the Pacific Ocean on the south side of the river near Astoria and wintered a few miles inland from the ocean. The ride from Bush Pioneer County Park to Oregon is an easy one, leaving plenty of time for exploring. Along the way you will pass the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, inhabited by migrating ducks and geese in the spring and fall, and a host of shorebirds year round. Two blinds for viewing and photographing the birds are situated near US 101 at the refuge headquarters. The next point of interest is the Long Beach Peninsula. Its most visible attractions are tourist oriented: “World’s Longest Driving Beach,” innumerable restaurants, motels, and amusement centers.
Bay Center, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 47.4
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With so much to see in the next 60.3 miles, expect travel time to be long and distances between stops very short. The first stop, Yaquina Lighthouse National Wildlife Refuge, lies just 3.5 miles south of Beverly Beach State Park. The obvious attraction here is the tall, white lookout tower on the windswept point, visible for miles up and down the coast. However, the real attention-getters are the birds, nesting on rocky offshore islands clearly visible from a viewing platform at the lighthouse. Check out the visitor center and the tide pools of Lower Quarry Beach, then watch the surfers (long boarders mostly) take in the low, lazy waves. Avoid the temptation to linger; many other distractions lie ahead.
Newport, OR - Road Biking - Trail Length: 60.3
Three large bays—Estro Americano, Tomales Bay, and San Francisco Bay—cut deep into the coastline between Bodega Bay and San Francisco. Highway 1 turns inland to bypass Estro Americano and then skirts along the edge of Tomales Bay before heading east around the Marin Headlands to cross San Francisco Bay at the Golden Gate Bridge. The main point of interest on this ride is Point Reyes National Seashore, a beautiful 64,000-acre park with more than 70 miles of coastline. This unique area, geographically isolated from the mainland by the San Andreas Fault, is habitat for several hundred species of birds and seventy kinds of mammals. Trails are the only access to many of the park’s beaches, sand dunes, and lakes, making it a difficult area to explore on a bicycle. The best place to begin is at the visitor center, which has displays, movies, a nature trail along the San Andreas Fault, and an authentic replica of a native American village. To fully explore the park requires several days—or weeks—to hike or ride the mountain bike trails and tour the paved road to the lighthouse. Camping is permitted at a hiker-biker site in Tomales State Park (adjoining the national seashore). The Point Reyes Youth Hostel, located off Limantour Rd., is another great place to spend a day or two. If touring with fat tires, you can take advantage of the park’s backcountry campsite system, accessed by well-maintained, vehicle-driven, double-track trails.
Bodega Bay, CA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 40.6
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This ride is dominated by three major climbs over three capes. The first climb, over Cape Lookout, begins as soon as you leave the campground. The second climb, over Cascade Head, occurs near the midpoint of the ride. The third climb, over the aptly named Cape Foulweather, awaits you at the end of the day. All three capes are forested and views are hard to come by. However, numerous highlights along the other sections of the ride ensure that you will not miss this area’s outstanding scenery. Plan an early start to allow extra time for a stop at Cape Kiwanda (the third cape on the Three Capes Scenic Route). The cape is a fascinating place; boats are launched directly into the surf, hang gliders take off from the sand dunes, and surfers challenge the waves. From the parking lot, a short walk over sand dunes leads to one of the greatest photography spots on the Oregon Coast.
Sand Lake, OR - Road Biking - Trail Length: 57.5
Southern California ambiance and plenty of it is found on this fairly easy ride that ends at the outskirts of Los Angeles. With a generous mix of Spanish architecture, palm trees, famous surfing beaches, a national park, and a historic mission, the countryside between Carpinteria State Beach and Leo Carrillo State Beach is fascinating. Scenery varies with nearly every turn of the pedal. Of course, people play a large role in creating ambiance. Many Californians spend a great deal of time outdoors swimming, sunbathing, sailing, walking, and, of course, bicycling. Take this opportunity to check out some of the extremes in cycling attire. (Some of these fashions will work their way to the rest of the country in the next few years.) The amazing duality of this area is evident wherever you look; from the beautiful sand-covered beaches with views of offshore oil rigs, to the wilderness peninsula located at the sprawling edge of the megalopolis that is Los Angeles.
Ventura, CA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 47.8
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During the warm and smoggy summer months, the coast south of Newport Beach is a popular escape from the heat and stagnant air of the interior. Throughout the warmest season, the four major state park campgrounds and numerous state beaches along this 65.4-mile section are full to overflowing. The coastal towns have attempted to accommodate the vast influx of tourists by lining the streets with restaurants, motels, fast foods, and surf shops. Roads traveled in this section vary from busy thoroughfares to quiet residential streets. Shoulders are nonexistent in towns and are frequently used for beach parking in the country. The best feature of this area is the gently rolling terrain—perfect for riding.
Huntington Beach, CA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 65.4
With the first major set of California hills behind you, the ride from Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park to Eureka will seem relatively easy. This should leave you plenty of time for side trips, exploring, or bicycle maintenance at the excellent repair shops in Arcata or Eureka. This section sees the evolution of US 101 from a narrow country road into a busy four-lane freeway. Riding on the freeway is legal (unless otherwise posted), and, thanks to a wide shoulder, generally very safe. However, the noise and dirt are fatiguing, so be sure to take advantage of the two scenic escape routes off the freeway, and all the side trips. The first suggested side trip is to the beautiful Lady Bird Johnson Grove. The grove has a mile-long loop trail through a forest of ferns and mammoth redwoods. The access road to the grove is very steep; hide the touring bags at the bottom, if possible. The second stop of the day is at the Redwoods National Park Center, located just south of Orick. The displays are interesting, the building well heated, and the local population of banana slugs simply amazing.
Orick, CA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 46.3
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The day begins with a tour through Eureka. This is a beautiful old Victorian town with meticulously tended period buildings. The bike route leaves US 101 at the entrance to the central business corridor and follows a route through a residential area, passing fifty or more masterpieces of Victorian design. If that’s not enough, you can take a short side trip to the ornate Carson Mansion and the Old Town area. Fort Humboldt, at the southern end of town, has an excellent indoor and outdoor logging museum. Beyond Eureka, the route rejoins US 101, which returns to its freeway status at the southern end of town. The shoulder is wide, the road nearly level, and miles speed by. If freeway riding is not your idea of a good way to see the country, take advantage of three alternate routes. The scenic portion of the ride begins when the route exits the freeway at the start of the Avenue of the Giants. This road is a section of the Old Coast Highway, which winds through a narrow corridor of majestic redwoods. Explore the numerous groves, hike the trails, and spend some time pondering these magnificent trees. The avenue is narrow and generally deeply shaded. Wear bright, visible clothing.
Eureka, CA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 51.2
From the clear blue waters of Lake Crescent, the Peninsula Route heads south to the popular ocean shores of the Kalaloch Beach unit of Olympic National Park. The route follows US 101, heading south through stump-covered clear-cut forests and stump-covered pastures to the town of Forks. Beyond town, the terrain becomes increasingly hilly and the countryside increasingly forested as the road winds its way out to the coast. Shoulders are mostly good in this section, disappearing at bridges. With only an occasional view of the mountains over massive clearcuts to distract you, the miles fly by. The Kalaloch area beaches are easily accessed from the main highway. Ruby Beach has a couple of large sea stacks and is most like the wilderness beaches of the north sections of the park. Fourth Beach has excellent tide pools on the near-shore rocks and is the scene of daily naturalist talks. Kalaloch and South Beaches are great for barefoot strolls through the sand.
Forks, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 61.2
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The mix of freeways, backroads, farmlands, and cities serves to remind you that you are now well into that very unique area called southern California. Riding conditions are good, the freeway has a wide shoulder, city streets have wide bike lanes, and only one short, steep hill breaks the harmony of gently rolling terrain. Santa Barbara is the center of interest along this portion of the coast. The day’s ride is short, leaving plenty of time to savor the city’s strong Spanish flavor in an optional city tour. With just a short side trip off the main route you may visit the Santa Barbara Mission, founded in 1786 and called the “Queen of Missions” because of its stately grace; the county courthouse, which was modeled after a Spanish-Moorish palace with hand-painted ceilings, giant murals, and a sweeping view from the clock tower; El Presidio, a fort built by the Spanish in 1782; and El Cuartel, the second-oldest standing adobe building in Calfornia. The tour ends at Stearns Wharf, where the sight of sunbathers, Rollerbladers, and windsurfers make for a strictly modern view. Cyclists passing through Santa Barbara in mid-August have a chance to catch the Fiesta Days celebration, which features a parade, street dancing, and every kind of Mexican food imaginable.
Gaviota, CA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 44.4
The coast south of San Francisco is a popular vacation getaway. During the summer, this area overflows with tourists from around the world. On weekends, fishermen, surfers, sunbathers, and beachcombers from the Bay Area mob the beaches. Despite its popularity, the coast is remarkably unspoiled, with only a few towns marring the open grasslands and sandy beaches. Where the highway parallels the ocean, an observant cyclist may spot sea lions basking in the sun or otters playing in the surf. A stop at Año Nuevo State Reserve is highly recommended. From December through April, elephant seals breed and raise their young here. During the summer, they can be spotted sunning themselves on the offshore rocks.
Half Moon Bay, CA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 56.5
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Saving the best for last, the Oregon Coast section of your tour ends with breathtaking scenery: long, sandy beaches, rocks carved into graceful arches, jagged sea stacks, and sheer cliffs. US 101 is etched on hillsides that drop nearly straight to the ocean. These wind-blasted hillsides are dotted with viewpoints, parks, and beach accesses. Highly recommended stops are Arch Rock, Thunder Rock Cove, Natural Bridges Cove, Whalehead Beach, and Harris Beach State Park. In late spring and early summer, flower-lovers should not miss Azalea State Park, in Brookings.
Nesika Beach, OR - Road Biking - Trail Length: 56.2
Miles of soft sand contoured by the wind and accented with ripple marks border the road from Florence to North Bend. Lie on it, walk through it, run over it, or slide down it; no matter how, take time to get to know this beautiful sea of sand known as the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Very little of this fascinating area can be viewed from US 101, so plan one or more short side trips. For cyclists, the most convenient dune accesses and viewpoints are at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park and the Oregon Dunes Overlook. For a greater wilderness feel, try one of the short trails from Carter Lake, Tahkenitch, or Eel Creek Campgrounds. These trails are particularly attractive in May and June, when the native rhododendrons are in bloom.
Glenada, OR - Road Biking - Trail Length: 54.9
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This is a short ride, designed to ensure plenty of time to explore the temperate rain forest environment that makes this area so unique. If you rode right past the roads to the Elwha, Solduc, and Hoh River Valleys, do not miss this opportunity to regenerate your mental and physical energies with a walk through the fertile forests around Quinault Lake. The greens are intensely pervasive. Noise is muted by the vegetation. The feeling of growth and vitality permeates the air. It’s a wonderfully healthy break from the dirt and grime of the road. Leaving the coast, US 101 turns southeast, heading inland through miles of forest and logging clearings. Without views or other points of interest, this is a good section to just cover some miles. Shoulders are just barely adequate and the terrain is gently rolling. The day’s ride ends back in Olympic National Park at a campground at the edge of Quinault Lake. This is a rain forest area, with lush, green forests, fern-filled canyons, and moss-covered trees. At the end of the mileage log is a tour guide to the Quinault area.
Queets, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 33.6
From huge hills to nearly level coastal grasslands, the terrain is the key interest along these 40 miles. Leaving Kirk Creek Campground, the route continues to climb and dive its way along the rugged coast for another 22 miles. Then, as if by magic, the hilly countryside is transformed into gentle, low rolling hills. Once the terrain levels, the miles fly by. While speeding over the lowlands, keep an eye on the tumbling surf; sea otters are often spotted playing just a few yards offshore. Watch the beaches as you go by—sea lions gather by the hundreds in this area for a spot of sunbathing and rolling in the sand. Near San Simeon, a casual glance east is all that is needed to spot Hearst Castle, perched high on a hill above Highway 1. The massive castle, built by William Randolph Hearst, houses one of the world’s largest private collections of art treasures.
Pacific Valley, CA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 40
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Riding through the Los Angeles area is more than just physically demanding; it is mentally exhausting. This long ride will require the use of every riding skill you have. It will require that you are constantly alert and concentrating not only on the traffic around you, but on the directions as well, to avoid missing crucial turns and intersections. Riders who have big-city commuting practice will have a definite advantage.
Malibu, CA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 72
Although short, this very scenic ride is strenuous. Highway 1 hugs the rugged coastline, dropping in and then climbing out of the many narrow canyons that cut the steep cliffs. Some sections of the road are without shoulders. Traffic is generally light, except on midsummer weekends. Although this is a short ride, you can easily devote an entire day to exploring this section of the coast. The day starts with a ride through Fort Bragg, a lumber town whose main attraction is the Skunk Railroad. The not-so-charming name of “Skunk” was derived from the smell of the original engines, which have been replaced with a less pungent variety. The train travels east through farmlands and redwood country to end at the town of Willits. Also in Fort Bragg are a large logging museum, a tree nursery, and Noyo Harbor, which is the largest working harbor between Eureka and San Francisco. During the Fourth of July weekend, the harbor is home of the world’s largest salmon barbecue. A few miles south, at Jughandle State Reserve, you can study a half-million years of the earth’s history by walking a nature trail up an ecological staircase with five distinct terraces, each about 100 feet higher and 100,000 years older than the last.
Fort Bragg, CA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 42.1
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Grass-covered hills, miles of traditional wooden fences, surf-battered cliffs, sheltered coves, and a wide array of weathered sea stacks provide an awe-inspiring backdrop for the ride from Manchester State Beach to Bodega Dunes State Beach. And, as if the scenery weren’t enough of a distraction, Salt Point State Park has numerous trails to lure you off your bike for quiet walks to sheltered coves, fern canyons, tall timber, and large rhododendron trees. Farther south, bikes may again be set aside for a tour of Fort Ross Historical Park. The fort was built by a group of Russians and Eskimos who were sent south in the early 1800s to grow grain for Alaskan settlements. The fort has been reconstructed and is open to visitors. There is also a visitor center that offers a slide show and historical notes describing the fate of these little-known pioneers.
Manchester, CA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 65.4
South of Marine Garden Club Grove, the impressive grandeur of the Avenue of the Giants continues as you cycle through beautiful stands of redwood, such as the Garden Club of America Grove, where you may quietly enjoy some of nature’s most regal handiwork. Along with the natural wonders are the manmade “attractions,” such as a drive-through tree and one-log house.
Weott, CA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 48
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