Lonely Labor Day weekend cycling suggestions outside Seattle?
August 31, 2007 3:49 PM   Subscribe

We're in the process of moving to Seattle (I'm here, the fam is still back east) so I'm solo this Labor Day weekend (sadly, no invites) and am looking to get on my road bike *outside* the city trails and enjoy some of the surrounding Washington landscape. I'm looking for 30-50mi ride suggestions (can be longer if not so hilly) that have the fewest cars and the nicest views (mountains, farms, rivers, etc) without Tour de France climbs.

From trails.com, I found the "Vashon Island Ramble", the "Mount Si Ramble", the "Chilly Hilly Ramble" and the "McClinchy Mile Challenge" but wanted to get some suggestions from any northwest MeFites on where y'all like to go to get away from the city cycling scene.

I heard the ferries are kinda crazy, so I'm thinking more east than west, unless there are some "shouldn't miss" rides on the islands that are worth putting up with crowds and delays.
posted by hrbrmstr to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by nazca at 4:02 PM on August 31, 2007

Do you have a car (to take your bike into more distant terrain)

if so:
Baker Lake near Highway 20
the Rails to Trails between I-5 and Darrington (look for the town of Osa / Asa)
Lake Samish near Bellingham (it's a bit rolling, but nothing too extreme)

All of these are within about an hour from Seattle - if the I-5 behaves near where you live
posted by seawallrunner at 4:03 PM on August 31, 2007

Response by poster: per seawallrunner - forgot to mention that I am in the "have car, will travel" category
posted by hrbrmstr at 4:08 PM on August 31, 2007

Whidbey Island is fifty miles long, largely rural, great views of all of the above. There's a short ferry hop between Mukilteo (north and northwest Everett area) and Clinton at the south end of the island, and the north end of the island connects to the mainland over bridges. Do the island north-to-south, actually, because the hill outside Clinton is long and steep and you want to be on its good side. If you can get someone to take you up to Anacortes, I think you could maybe even get rail back into Seattle from Everett.

The cities of Snohomish and Arlington are joined by the Centennial Trail, a paved ex-railroad in an absurdly nice rural setting (both fields and forests, with a lake stop as well). End-to-end round trip, it's about 35 miles. I took an idyllic 10-mile evening ride there just a month ago.

Oh, and the ferries are a lot less crazy for walk-ons and cyclists than they are for automobiles. Take a bike on a ferry more than about twice, you'll start to wonder why any even brings cars on. You can easily put in 25+ miles on San Juan Island (see British and American Camps from the Pig War and camp on the far side of the island) or Orcas (camp at Moran State Park, I think), and if you like flat and very sparsely populated, you can pick up another 25-30 miles on Lopez.

I seriously commend seawallrunner's taste as well.
posted by eritain at 5:54 PM on August 31, 2007

Best answer: Gem with cuesheets and maps for Seattle bike rides and surrounding areas here.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 6:43 PM on August 31, 2007

I am from out east. this summer some friends and I rode San Juan Island (great) and then Orca Island (very freaking hilly to top!!!) Do not hesitate. Ride San Juan!!! High speed ferry from Seattle was a great ride unto itself. Took it to Friday Harbor. Not a lot of motorized vehicle traffic to mess with you and what little there is totally respected us manual riders.

Awesome. I would come back again if I could to ride some more out there.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:38 PM on August 31, 2007

The ferries here are pretty much the opposite of crazy, especially for bikes & motorcycles. Last on/first off makes for a quick & scenic commute to some of the most beautiful islands in the United States. DO NOT MISS!

Unfortunately, you can't swing a cat out here without hitting a couple of Tour de France-esque hills. Come to think of it, you can't swing a cat out here at all.

posted by Aquaman at 1:41 AM on September 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Check out the Skagit Valley. Flat, for the most part, with beautiful vistas. From iexplore.com:

You might swear you're in Holland. The Skagit Valley, a broad, flat, seaside floodplain an hour north of Seattle, is a Northwest cyclists' favorite because of its many miles of flat, uncluttered roads skirting magnificent fields of cultivated tulips and daffodils. Peak time for blooming bulbs and sweating riders is mid-March to early May. Many daylong routes are available, but a favorite circuit is the 50-mile loop hitting Bay View State Park and the towns of Bow, Edison, Mount Vernon, and La Conner. Information: 360-466-4778.
posted by pammo at 3:29 AM on September 1, 2007

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