I’m in the process of implementing a gallery feature for photos to try and limit the amount of scrolling. Until then, try not to sprain your finger.
We’ve been planning to get a bike trip in before I left Washington, but it’s been delayed several times due to my pokiness biking across the country, injuries between the three of us, etc. Anyways, instead of doing a week mountain bike trip we decided to go with a road bike tour out to the Pacific Ocean along the Olympic Peninsula. This promised to be less abusive to Krista’s healing ankle and I still secretly felt I needed to get a bike ride in that truly ended at the Pacific Ocean.
In preparation for the ride we reviewed some information on the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) that we found online and through a map Krista received from some coworkers. Looking back, it seems that the website and maps are a bit out of date. We ended up finding more trails than either the GPS route I downloaded or the paper map showed. The ODT presents a lot of great route options and tons of side trips. We are already dreaming up another trip which would require some fatter tires.
The route per their website extends from Port Townsend to La Push on the coast. We planned to take a ferry into Port Townsend and leave the car in the overnight parking near the ferry terminal at the Jefferson Transit park and ride lot, then riding to Fort Townsend where they have hiker/biker camping. Unfortunately, our trip also lined up with the same weekend as the ever popular (apparently) wooden boat festival in town. So, after arriving at 11:30 PM and talking with the local Safeway and police department it sounded like no one could guarantee that our car wouldn’t be towed. Instead, we decided to drive to Sequim where we knew a friend of a friend who might let us park at their residence. Long story short, we tried catching a few z’s in the local park in Sequim and got the boot pretty early after very little sleep. We headed to the local diner to kick start our day with copious amounts of coffee and after explaining our situation to the owner he offered his parking lot out back for our vehicle. We bought milkshakes, more pancakes, and a thank-you card to show our gratitude when we returned. Moral of the story is… triple check multi day parking availability in Fort Townsend if you plan to start there.
From Port Townsend there is dedicated paved bike trails to the Elwah River. Here you have the option of getting on the “Adventure Route” or continuing on the shoulder of Highway 112 for about 10 miles to ODT road in Joyce. You could break off 112 to ride sections . We chose the Adventure Route which is basically milder singletrack with sweet views. Bike-able by touring bikes, but would be best with a mountain bike. There are several opportunities to break from the adventure route towards Highway 101 or 112. We rode the 1st segment and cut through gravel roads to Highway 101 running south of Lake Crescent. If we were to do it again we would have jumped on Beach Road to stay north of Lake Crescent since there is a great section of the ODT which runs along the north side of the lake which we caught on our return.
We didn’t know it, but the ODT runs along the north side of Lake Crescent. We took this route on our return and were impressed. There was some construction where the route connects with Beach Road on the North side of the lake. You might also want to beware of single track that exist on the last segment of this part of the trail. Fun, but if you’re expecting pavement you might be presently surprised. You can’t quite avoid Highway 101 as you continue west, but you only need to jump on for a few miles. La Push road north of Forks was pretty low traffic when we were on it. Our route is outlined below:
Day 1 (Saturday – 9/6) officially began when we left the Hwy 101 diner parking lot. Chuck, a warmshowers host I stayed with in Chattanooga, Tennessee contacted me earlier in the week and mentioned he was in Seattle. I told him I was riding the Olympic Peninsula so we planned to connect. Instead of meeting him as planned in Fort Townsend, we explored Dungeness Spit while waiting for Chuck to bike the extra 25 miles from Fort Townsend to Sequim. West from here we ended up running into the “adventure” route. We hadn’t planned on riding any single track, but Krista’s map review missed this small detail. We decided to go for it anyways since it sounded better than the highway. In the end it worked out good and we were glad we went for it since the trails were not all that technical. Besides the frequent vehicle barriers that we had to lift the bikes over, things went smooth.
Around 5:00 we decided to head off the trail towards Highway 101 to look for water and camping otpion. We might have tried some stealth camping along the trail had we found a water source. Shortly after joining the highway we came across a campground north of Lake Sutherland where we stayed for the evening.
After sleeping under an incredibly bright moon last night, we packed up and grabbed breakfast down at the roadside store. They made a mean biscuits and gravy. Riding was fairly busy along the south side of the lake on Highway 101. Eventually we were able to detour south off the highway (missing a good chunk of paved trails that we’d later find on our return trip). We decided to try and camp on the beach since we talked with a local who said camping was allowed provided you got a permit. We stopped to get a few groceries in Forks and headed towards Mora where there was supposedly a ranger station. When we arrived though, it was unfortunately closed and since bear canisters were required for food storage and we heard the beach was regularly patrolled we decided not to press our luck camping and getting fined. Instead we rode to Rialto Beach, ate dinner, and rode to the nearby campground east of the beach.
Unfortunately, we missed the picturesque sunset that we were hoping for. Locals insisted that it was a perfect day just the day before.
After a cup of coffee and breakfast with Chuck it was time to part ways again. Hope you found some great sunsets along the ocean as you continued south Chuck. Krista, Dennis, and I continued back out the same way we came, but then followed a trail we had missed the day before. To our delight this trail continued on and connected with another trail bringing us all the way up along the north side of Lake Crescent. Paved trails turned to dirt, but it was all very manageable. If it had been a warmer day we would have for sure taken a swim in the clear waters of Lake Crescent. We nearly camped at an excellent hidden spot on the northwest corner of the lake, but instead pressed on towards the coast. This didn’t turn out to be a bad decision as we were able to experience the Blackberry Cafe in Joyce and a great sunset along the coast.
Today was mostly more backtracking. Dennis claimed his achilles heal was about to explode so we decided not to go adventuring off for some more single track, but instead headed back toward Sequim. In Sequim we thanked the manager at HiWay 101 Cafe and ordered a celebratory milkshake before heading out. More problems in Port Townsend as the ferry we wanted to catch had apparently been cancelled for months, though this wasn’t quite so obvious on their website. Don’t forget to reserve a ferry! Or at least call ahead! *cough cough – Krista!