Pacific Northwest - Orcas or San Juan Island?
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07-05-09, 11:50 AM
Hi All - I'm going to be visiting the northern Washington area at the end of July and I'll have one day to ride EITHER San Juan or Orcas island and I was looking for recommendations on which one to choose. My tentative plan is to drive up (I'll be riding in Oregon for a couple of days before) to Anacortes and spend the night there, leave the car there and take the bike over on the ferry, ride all day and then head back to Anacortes and drive to Camano Island for a wedding the next day (maybe get a ride in on Camano Island before the wedding...)
Anyway - if anyone has any opinions one way or the other I'd love to hear them. The climb up Mt. Constitution sounds great - I'm a fan of tough climbs. I'd like to get a good long ride in to make it worth the extra few hours of driving I'll need to do to get there. I've never ridden in this area and I'm looking forward to checking it out.
Thanks a lot for any suggestions.
Having just done Mt. Constitution for the second time in three days, Orcas is my vote. I haven't ridden San Juan, but I've been there plenty. It's flatter and more open, more prairie than forest. I'm partial to forest and giant climbs, so Orcas would win out for me. I also find Orcas to be a little less touristy than San Juan/Friday Harbor.
07-05-09, 08:48 PM
2nd for Orcas.
07-05-09, 10:50 PM
If you like hills, Orcas is the better choice hands down. On of the best things about Mt Constitution (assuming you hit a warm sunny day) is that you can bomb back down the hill and then take a wonderfully refreshing dip in the lake.
07-06-09, 10:48 AM
Thanks everyone! Orcas it is... now one more question - I'm assuming this is a reasonable day trip? I'll be staying the night in Anacortes, catching an early ferry to Orcas, riding all day and then ferrying back to Anacortes to make the drive to Camano Island.
Any other tips/suggestions or "must see/ride" spots? I'll also have a day to ride either Camano Island or Whidbey, so any suggestions in that regard would be great too.
Thanks a lot for the help.
Definitely a reasonable day trip. You will ride through Eastsound on your way up to Mt. Constitution. Depending on how much more mileage you want, one option is to ride down to Olga before turning around and heading back to the ferry.
07-06-09, 02:31 PM
I just rode both and I gotta tell ya that climb of constitution is insane. I'm not a fan, but to each his own!
I found there was nary a flat spot on Orcas but nice rollers all over San Juan. The west side of San Juan by Lime Kiln Park was just as hilly as Orcas and the road along the cliffs was spectacular.
I'd be the lone vote for San Juan for variety of terrain because you would be hard pressed to do all the roads in a day whereas I was riding the same roads several times the same day on orcas. For scenery I'd vote for Orcas though.
Bring your climbing legs!
07-06-09, 11:19 PM
It's 15-20 miles from the ferry to Olga at the other end of the horseshoe. It would be worth riding through Eastsound, passing Mt Constitution and riding to Olga to visit the Olga Cafe (literally can't miss it) to invest in some pie and coffee.
A quick trip back to Moran State park brings you to the climb up Mt Constitution. Hang around sight seeing at the top, climb the tower, take some pictures, then enjoy the nice descent. Be careful - the pavement is not the best unless they've resurfaced recently.
Enjoy a nice refreshing dip in the lake.
Head back to Eastsound and explore the town a bit. On the way back to the ferry do a side trip over to deer harbor and then angle your way back toward the ferry.
There aren't enough roads on Orcas to really get lost so you won't need much more than a google map overview. Do be careful - the roads are narrow and twisty so visibility is sometimes an issue.
If you want trips to Whidbey, you can see maps/cue sheets here: http://www.seattlebiketours.org/members/maps/islands.html
Map/Cue sheet for Camano Island loop is here: http://www.seattlebiketours.org/members/maps/camano_island.pdf
My vote's for San Juan. There's a lot more expansive, open scenery as you ride. The west side of the island is a real treat. Orcas has Mt Constitution, which is a hard ride but I would avoid this time of year, with all the traffic.
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