Biking Puget Sound 60 Rides from Olympia to the San Juans  by Bill Thorness

Biking Puget Sound: 60 Rides from Olympia to the San Juans Guide Book

by Bill Thorness (The Mountaineers Books)
Biking Puget Sound 60 Rides from Olympia to the San Juans  by Bill Thorness
This book is for all those people who want to get away, do a little exploring, and get some fresh air into their lungs. My goal was to create a selection of cycling day tours that expose users to all our major bike trails and on-road bike routes. It’s divided somewhat equally among urban, suburban, and rural settings. Because these 60 rides are sprinkled throughout the greater Seattle area, many people will find tours close to home. With a couple of exceptions, all rides are within an hour’s drive of central Seattle.

© 2014 Bill Thorness/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Biking Puget Sound: 60 Rides from Olympia to the San Juans" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 60.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 60.

South King County is home to some excellent road biking, along rural roads and through lush farming communities. This route, heading east from Auburn, skirts new development, visits the small town of Black Diamond with a great bakery, and returns through lush, green farmland. Start the tour by parking next to the Interurban Trail adjacent to Auburn’s quiet West Main Street. Access is easy and quick from Interstate 5 or State Route 167.
Auburn, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 31.5
As you sail across the calm waters of Elliott Bay on the ferry to Bainbridge Island, consider the maritime activity and heritage of our region. On Puget Sound, many thousands of people move around for work and recreation every day, as they have done since the first Native American tribes plied the waters with canoes, fishing and trading, later to be joined by immigrants who brought their own maritime traditions. This ride skirts the three major US Navy installations in the region and offers much history to explore. Begin this ride by heading up-island to the Agate Pass Bridge via the main drag, State Route 305.
Seattle, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 32
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The big ferry to Bainbridge Island is the jumping-off point for a great many adventures on the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas, such as hiking or camping at destinations like Hurricane Ridge or the Hoh Rain Forest. But delights lie much closer, too: multiple choices await the cyclists who queue up at Colman Dock in Seattle. From this central point in Kitsap County, three out of the four cardinal compass points aim you toward fun. This tour connects you to the next ferry north—the Kingston-to-Edmonds run—and a couple of other great rides on the north Kitsap.
Seattle, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 21
You know Bainbridge is bike-friendly as you pedal from the ferry to begin the tour. Kitsap Transit’s Bainbridge Island Bike Barn, adjacent to the ferry terminal, offers a number of covered, secure storage units for commuter bicycles as well as some personal-size lockers. Green bike-route signs placed regularly along the island roads are another clue. Along the tree-covered lanes and beach drives of Bainbridge Island, you’ll see a purely Northwest amalgam: a family-centered lifestyle embracing the natural world, in a setting that doesn’t get much more ideal.
Seattle, WA - Mountain Biking,Road Biking - Trail Length: 33.9
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Kitsap County is a great place to get away, and this tour takes riders along a road less traveled than some of the northern county routes. Explore the naval town of Bremerton, loop around Dyes Inlet, and ride out to the western side of the county to the tiny village of Seabeck and a secluded beach park. There are a few good hills on this tour and some roads with no shoulders, but the traffic is relatively low and the scenic value is high. Bremerton, as home of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, seems to be awash in navy-gray paint. On the ferry ride into port, view the USS Turner Joy, a destroyer berthed at a waterfront pier and open for touring. Downtown Bremerton has experienced a bit of a rejuvenation, and it merits a visit too.
Seattle, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 37.1
Like a number of the region’s ?at, broad, off-road paved trails, the “B-G” was originally created as a way to move large numbers of goods. Thomas Burke, Daniel Gilman, and 10 other investors created the Seattle, Lake Shore, and Eastern Railroad in 1885 in a bid to put the city on the map by connecting their railroad to the Canadian Transcontinental Line for shipping Northwest goods to larger markets. Although the line never got past Arlington, it created a valuable link to logging communities east of Seattle in its youth. The railroad operated until 1963 and was abandoned for rail use in 1971, at which time a citizens’ effort led to acquisition of the line as a recreational trail. The conversion of this trail, which opened in 1978, marked a renaissance of bicycling in Seattle that had not been seen since the turn of the 20th century.
Seattle, WA - Hiking,Road Biking,Walking - Trail Length: 24.2
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At some of our magic places where streams meet Puget Sound, city parks have kept development at bay, just as devoted volunteers now keep the wetlands and banks free of invasive species. It’s being done to support the return journey of oceangoing salmon. Keep the salmon in mind as you ride this tour. Each species carries its own struggle: The leisure world of humans seeking health and strong legs through biking might be a bit less essential than the salmon’s upstream spawning cycle, but no less noble.
Seattle, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 19.6
Do you ever, on a flat and open stretch of trail, just tune out your surroundings and listen to your body working with your bike? Legs operate like pistons, heart churns like an engine. Try this on the Cedar River Trail’s flat, open route, and you might get a feel for the trail’s first use: as a railroad. The trail, paved from Renton to Maple Valley then continuing to Landsburg as gravel, began life as a part of the Milwaukee Railroad. Reappropriated by the government through the “railbanking” mechanism, it’s a great jumping-off point for exploring the cusp of rural lands in south King County. The three-hour ride is at times loud and busy, but the exploration of the charms still existing in May Valley make it a worthy ramble through the civilization happening southeast of Seattle. And once you see the maze of suburban roads emanating from the trail, you’ll ?nd other rambles to explore.
Renton, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 28.2
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This is a ?at, relaxing ride, mostly in the country, on a trail that’s been much expanded recently to create a great link between the towns of Snohomish, Lake Stevens, and Arlington. If you start your tour in Snohomish and loop the entire distance, you’ll put in 65 miles (a “metric century” in cycling lingo), which is quite a challenge for many people, even on a ?at trail. But the nice thing about this linear rail-trail is that you can pick it up from various trailheads and just ride a section or two, based on your available time and energy level. There are toilets (but not water) at all the trailheads.
Snohomish, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 65.6
The long crescent of Whidbey Island is most pleasing to cyclists in its center section, from Penn Cove to Admiralty Bay. Here you’ll find historic towns, scenic coastline roads, old military installations, and flat, open riding. Nowhere do all these elements come together as nicely as in this Coupeville and Fort Casey loop.
Coupeville, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 12.7
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A tour out of bustling Oak Harbor is replete with coastal views. In fact, you get a look at beaches along both sides of Whidbey Island. Although the city of Oak Harbor itself is not included in this tour, the island’s largest town deserves some exploring. It’s home to a U.S. Navy air base, and you can still see influences of the Dutch people who were the first colonists in the area in the 1850s. A beach walk curves around the harbor from Windjammer Park, adjacent to a developing downtown.
Oak Harbor, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 19.3
The Olympia area has much to offer touring cyclists. The small city and navigable suburbs are surrounded by tremendous natural beauty, from the Capitol Forest to the inlets of south Puget Sound to the foothills of Mount Rainier. If such a description makes you want to relocate there, use your bike to scout the area for suitable homes. You’ll ?nd quiet roads to meander, plenty of rest stops, and striped-and-signed bike lanes on the busier roads, which greatly aid the bike commuter.
Olympia, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 28.8
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Southeast Seattle holds many charms for a nice summer day: a long stretch of Lake Washington waterfront, multiple swimming beaches, and verdant Seward Park are the highlights. But on a city tour around this quadrant, you also will discover stunning views of Mount Rainier, a colorful pavilion donated by an Asian sister city, and a charming park that was the vision of an expert Japanese gardener. Begin this short loop tour at Jefferson Park, atop north Beacon Hill. Continue south, pass Jefferson Park Golf Course, and join one of Seattle’s scenic bike trails, the Chief Sealth Trail, which opened in 2007 as an offshoot of the light rail being installed along Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Contractors building Sound Transit’s light rail moved many tons of excavated soil into the corridor to grade the trail. It snakes under powerlines and provides hilltop connections for this sprawling neighborhood. The trail rises and falls under the big powerlines, at times popping out onto a street before beginning another segment. Get ready for some short, steep climbs.
Seattle, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 16.3
Some people get great enjoyment from being a tourist in their own town, but for longtime locals who work in downtown Seattle, a bike tour through the city center may seem like the last thing they would want to do on a day away from the office. However, this tour is designed to hit many high spots a tourist might enjoy, so you can either play visitor or grit your teeth and use the tour to entertain out-of-town guests. This modest 10-mile spin would take about an hour if you rode it straight through, and it has only one gradual incline, stretching from the International District to the downtown library, so it should be within the abilities of even the occasional rider. The difficulty comes from street traffic, which can be significant during work days or on game days in the stadium area, so this tour is best ridden on a weekend, fit in around game schedules and ridden by people comfortable riding in traffic.
Seattle, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 9.5
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A tour through Tacoma can include many interesting sights and stops, from art to parks to waterfronts to wonderful neighborhoods. Why not combine them all into one ride and make a day of it? Begin at Freighthouse Square, the old-is-new transit center area tucked near the Tacoma Dome just southeast of downtown. It’s got great freeway access and cheap or free parking, and the transit stop makes it ideal for tourists not using a car to visit Tacoma.
Tacoma, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 23.8
This tour skirts one of Seattle’s major industrial regions and stumbles upon historical connections to the living and trading patterns of Native Americans and settlers. Although this route runs past manufacturing areas and warehouses, it provides a vital link to riding the wonderful south King County routes. Thankfully, it’s possible—amid the powerlines and bridge ramps—to ?nd some interesting stops along the journey.
Seattle, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 25.6
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A leisurely spin on the Foothills Trail offers a scenic ride through wooded countryside and along a rushing river, skirting small towns and new subdivisions on a trail that gently rises toward the pinnacle of Washington attractions: Mount Rainier. In fact, the trail is a crucial link in getting cyclists to the challenging roads encircling “the Mountain.” The route is a popular destination for Tacoma cyclists looking for a laid-back outing. Developers call it the “Foothills Trail Linear Park,” but before its rails-to-trails reincarnation, it was known as the Buckley Line, hosting both Northern Paci?c freight and a passenger train from Orting to South Prairie, the current southern terminus of the trail.
Sumner, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 29.8
This ride offers a spin across a very big bridge with big views, a visit to a little village and a little park, and a ride across a small, scenic bridge to loop a little island. On the way, there are plenty of climbs along tree- lined roads and not many services.
Tacoma, WA - Road Biking - Trail Length: 33.2
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Edmonds is a well-loved Seattle suburb because of its homey downtown, wonderful views across the water, and easy access by ferry to Kitsap Peninsula. On top of that, it’s a great ride from Green Lake. Heading north, the route barrels through the neighborhoods of Greenwood, Bitter Lake, and Shoreline. For a taste of officially sanctioned kitsch, make a stop at the Viewlands Hoffman Receiving Station, a Seattle City Light power substation at Fremont and North 107th. The northwest corner of the industrial enclosure contains a curious set of handmade wind sculptures made from kitchen items. It’s a tribute to the quirky pastime of Emil Gehrke of Grand Coulee, who created and maintained the rusting art.
Seattle, WA - Mountain Biking,Road Biking - Trail Length: 29.7
The Green River has a bad reputation, through no fault of its own. It has faced the common challenges of many American rivers that ?ow through urban areas: pollution, industrial uses, neglect. But in true American fashion, let’s ignore all those problems and instead recognize this river as a historic waterway, important in Native American and early pioneer settlement. A ride along the river presents a bit of the area’s history as well as a view of the suburban development that’s happening south of Seattle. It also provides a great link to other south King County rides.
Tukwila, WA - Mountain Biking,Road Biking - Trail Length: 39.3
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