Friday, July 10, 2009

Bike touring the San Juan islands

Orcas Island:
Do NOT follow the guidebook! From the ferry, immediately turn right onto Killebrew Lake Rd. Turn left on Dolphin Bay Rd which is hard-pack dirt with very few cars and several beautiful lakes. We saw four bald eagles along here. Dolphin Bay Rd turns into Orcas/Main and heads into Eastsound (the largest town on the island). There is an excellent bike shop, Wildlife Cycles, here along with a grocery store and library with internet. To get to the campground, stay on Main St until it turns into Crescent Beach Rd, then turn right on Olga and climb to Moran State Park.

The side trip up Mt Constitution (the highest point in the San Juans) is highly recommended, although with its 2000' elevation gain in just 4.7 miles, you'd be forgiven for taking a pass. If you decide to go for it, start early as the road is closed to cars until 6:30am. This makes the spinning more peaceful and you can wander across both lanes to find the mildest grade. Even relieved of your panniers, the first three miles are a granny-gear grind. You will see plenty of blacktail deer browsing on the roadside. On a clear day, the views from the summit are stunning - all the way to Mt Ranier, the Olympics, and Canada. Of course the descent is a screamer with the hairpins keeping you honest. It took me just 11 minutes to ride the 5 miles back to the hiker/biker campground.

On the way back to the ferry from Eastsound, take Crow Valley Rd to Westsound.

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