Orcas Island

Anacortes, Washington

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Orcas Island is a conundrum shaped like a horseshoe. On one hand, it provides some of the most beautiful, challenging terrain in the San Juans and some wonderful places to shop, eat, and sleep. On the other hand, that tough terrain is made even more so by narrow, winding roads, most of which do not have shoulders, and by drivers who are not as welcoming or tolerant as are those on the other San Juan Islands. It’s a combination of factors that, in the end, makes Orcas an island that should be visited only by experienced cyclists who are pretty fit. This tour route provides access to the island’s easier half, the west, and leaves you at a jumping-off point if you want to tackle the more challenging east side. As with all ferry departures, cyclists should pull over as soon as they’re clear of the ferry and let the cars depart. It’s safer and more efficient, and you breathe a lot less car exhaust. That’s especially true on these islands, which invariably have a steep hill to climb as you leave the ferry dock. The small cluster of buildings around the Orcas ferry dock includes a hotel, a grocery, and a couple of eateries, the only services available until you reach Eastsound, the tour’s destination.
Biking Puget Sound: 60 Rides from Olympia to the San Juans

DESCRIPTION FROM:

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

by Bill Thorness (The Mountaineers Books)

Orcas Island is a conundrum shaped like a horseshoe. On one hand, it provides some of the most beautiful, challenging terrain in the San Juans and some wonderful places to shop, eat, and sleep. On the other hand, that tough terrain is made even more so by narrow, winding roads, most of which do not have shoulders, and by drivers who are not as welcoming or tolerant as are those on the other San Juan Islands. It’s a combination of factors that, in the end, makes Orcas an island that should be visited only by experienced cyclists who are pretty fit. This tour route provides access to the island’s easier half, the west, and leaves you at a jumping-off point if you want to tackle the more challenging east side.

As with all ferry departures, cyclists should pull over as soon as they’re clear of the ferry and let the cars depart. It’s safer and more efficient, and you breathe a lot less car exhaust. That’s especially true on these islands, which invariably have a steep hill to climb as you leave the ferry dock. The small cluster of buildings around the Orcas ferry dock includes a hotel, a grocery, and a couple of eateries, the only services available until you reach Eastsound, the tour’s destination.

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

Activity Type: Road Biking
Nearby City: Anacortes
Distance: 21.8
Elevation Gain: 1,615 feet
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Difficult
Riding Time: 3 hours
Driving Directions: Directions to Orcas Island

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Apr 2018