Touring - Touring from Spokane to Seattle WA
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09-19-12, 05:33 AM
I am meeting my son in Spokane on Sept 30th to ride together to Seattle. He's been riding from Phoenix, AZ. I joined him for the first week ... from Phoenix to St. George, UT (generally following the Adventure Cycling Grand Canyon Connector) and now am rejoining him for the last week of his ride to Seattle.
I'm looking for suggestions about routes. Based on reading previous postings it looks like a good route would be starting off on Rt 2, then heading up towards Coulee Dam, then further north to catch Rt 20 and taking 20 west until around Rockport, then perhaps 530 to Arlington and finally winding our way into Seattle. Will this work ... taking 5 or 6 days for the ride. Or ... is it too late in the year for this route through the mountains and do we need to use Rt 2 the whole way instead (shorter but it sounds like lots more traffic and perhaps not quite so scenic).
I appreciate any suggestions folks have on best routes and on places we can camp or if necessary get a room along the way. We did lots of climbing on earlier phases of the ride so climbs of 4,000 feet or more per day and 70 to 90 miles are within our capability..... though glad to do less!
09-19-12, 09:07 AM
We'll have warm weather through the first week in October. Definitely do the Hwy 20 route. Hwy 2 over Stevens Pass is a bit of a mess and irritating, though I do ride it. Here's a nice route to get you from Arlington into Woodinville:
From there, you can take the Sammamish River and Burke Gilman bike trails into Seattle.
09-19-12, 09:11 AM
Are you talking about picking up SR 20 at Kettle Falls and then heading west? If so, from there to Rockport will take you about 4 days unless you climb more than one pass a day. From Kettle Falls, you start up Sherman Pass (the highest paved road in WA) and descend into Republic. From Republic, you climb Waucunda (sp?) Pass and descend into Tonasket. From there, it's maybe 30 miles to Okanogan, where you then go up and over Loup Loup Pass, down to Twisp and then to Winthrop. (Loup Loup has some 8% grade sections going E-W.) That day is probably 70 or so miles. From Winthrop, it's about 16 miles gently up hill to Mazama, where you start to climb to Washington and Rainy Passes, which is another 16 or so miles. (You reach Washington Pass, descend for about 3.5 miles, and then climb about 1.5 miles up to Rainy. Then you have a long (about 30 miles) mostly down hill ride to Colonial Creek Campground, where you encounter two shorter climbs and descents that take you to Newhalem. From Newhalem to Rockport is easy. That whole days is probably around 90 or so miles, if not more.
I have done basically the reverse twice. Stayed in Rockport, Colonial Creek, Winthrop, Tonasket and Colville, which is a few miles east of Kettle Falls. If you do go this way, I recommend getting the map section of Adventire Cycling's Northern Tier that covers this section. Between Tonasket and Okanogan it gets you off busy SR 20/U.S.97 for most of the way. (You basically stay on the east side of the river and ride through reservation land.) I am almost certain I have mine at home and could share it with you. If you can pull high miles each day, maybe you can shorten things or at least even out the mileages.
Cannot comment definitively on the potential for bad weather as I did my rides at the end of May, but I have to imagine that snow is quite possible. On WADOT's web site there is historical information on the closing dates of the North Cascades Highway that might give you an idea. If you do go, watch the forecast closely. I would not want to get stuck crossing the NCH in a storm. IIRC, except for one U.S.F.S. campground on the ascent to Washington Pass, there are ain't nothing between Mazama and Colonial Creek Campground. The first commercial enterprise you will encounter is a small store in Newhalem, where there is also a U.S.F.S. campground. Next services are at Marblemount. Between Newhalem and Marblemount, the ACA route ditches SR 20 for quieter (and I thinkl flatter) backroads.
Republic has a decent fairgrounds where you can camp for cheap. If the set up is still the same as when I was there many moons ago, there are hot showers and flush toiltettes. (You can find the place on the web.) In Tonasket, I camped on the lawn behind Shannon's Cafe. There were not facilities, but there is a truck stop a half block away with showers, etc. There is a nice KOA in Winthrop. The owners back them gave diso****s to cyclists. Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport is really nice. There are Adirondak shelters you can stay in if the weather is bad. (Call ahead for availability.)
09-19-12, 09:16 AM
Hwy 20 is definitely the way to go. it has been warm and clear statewide for weeks, records for no rain. consider taking Hwy 20 all the way west, down Whidby Island, and then hopping the ferry over to Mukilteo, then short ride to Seattle. camping is available at Grand Coulee, next to the water, and at Bridgeport and at Alta Lake. all sorts of campgrounds on going north thru the Methow Valley, and a couple of Inns in Twisp and Winthrop (Twisp River Inn is new and highly recommended). do not miss the little store in Mazama just before the passes, really good food there. dust off the granny gear for Washington Pass and Rainy Pass, going west on 20, several forest service campgrounds to choose from, and state parks on the west segment of 20 and on Whidby Island, should you choose to go that way. the campgrounds are generally open thru October, or until snow closes Hwy 20. you are right, hwy 20 is much better for cycling than hwy 2.
09-19-12, 10:50 AM
<snip> Between Newhalem and Marblemount, the ACA route ditches SR 20 for quieter (and I thinkl flatter) backroads. <snip>I don't think so. The only alternate road is Power Line Rd., which I don't think is paved or even goes through. Have you ridden it? That section of 20 is flat, anyway.
The FS campground 11 miles west of the Mazama side road (Lone Pine?) is right where the grade starts to kick up, heading up Washington Pass. Really nice with great water, unlike the FS campgrounds down on the flat. Restaurant/store in Mazama.
When you come to Marblemount, after refueling you can go east 3/4 mile on the Cascade River road, go right across a bridge, and take an untraveled back road to intersect 530 about 2 miles south of Rockport. All paved, though chipseal.
You can go around Loup Loup, but that adds about 36 miles. The run-up to Loup Loup from the east is absolutely gorgeous anyway. You'll want good brakes on that descent. Descents from Washington and Rainy are no problem.
09-19-12, 10:59 AM
Have you thought about taking the Iron Horse/John Wayne trail? Although you could pick it up At Vantage, Ellensburg is the better place to start.
Between Newhalem and Marblemount, the ACA route ditches SR 20 for quieter (and I thinkl flatter) backroads.
I think the backroad you're thinking of is between Concrete and Sedro-Wooley. The pavement on that section reminded me of some of the allegedly paved roads in rural Kansas.
If you do take 20 across the state and need to compress a couple day's rides, I'd suggest starting early from Kettle Falls and doing Sherman and Wauconda passes in a day. It'll be a long day, of course, but the ride up Wauconda from Republic was the easiest of the four passes (in four days). Once you summit Wauconda, it's all downhill to Tonasket.
09-21-12, 11:49 AM
Thank you everyone for the great suggestions. Awesome advice....so looks like we'll ride the RT 20 corridor ... with some of the variations you have all suggested.
I'll post how the ride went and details on the final route after we get to Seattle.
For those that know... how is hwy 410 for crossing the WA Cascade Range?
09-21-12, 01:32 PM
For those that know... how is hwy 410 for crossing the WA Cascade Range?It's good. Can be lots of traffic and there's no shoulder, though. Coming from the east, it's a 25 mile exposed climb in the sun. Not so bad coming from the west. Done it many times, will do it again. It's rare to see the ecology change so rapidly on a bike.
09-21-12, 03:06 PM
The SH 20 route is well-mapped on Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier route. The single map in WA may be worth the $15 or so. It has some good alternates to get off the highway, as well as directions to a couple of excellent bike hostels, like the Bacon's near Colville.
09-21-12, 03:21 PM
I agree with Andrew: The Bacon Bike Hostel outside of Colville is worth staying at! There is also bike camping between Mazama and Winthrop and the "Bike Yurt" in Republic. Both are on the Warmshowers network, and I believe the bike camping is on the ACA map.
To the OP: Last year we did something like this. To get between Spokane and Colville (where you can connect to SR 20) we used US 395. Most of it wasn't bad: wide shoulder, decent scenery, not a lot of climbs. A decent amount of traffic, though, and it picks up considerably as you close in on Spokane. There looked like ways to get around that, but the alternate routings would have added distance and we were pressed for time.
09-23-12, 12:15 PM
Yes, Hwy 20 is the way to go. Hopefully the fires will be contained by the time you roll through Okanogan. I've been working in the Methow valley for a few weeks, and some days the smoke was really bad. i would stay very far away from HWY 2, not only because of traffic, but the air around Wenatchee is currently considered hazardous, and they are telling people to stay indoors.
Enjoy HWY 20, it is absolutely stunning.
Air quality map:
09-23-12, 12:53 PM
I just finished a Yorktown, VA to Seattle, WA tour. If you choose to go through Ellensburg and across at Snoqualmie Pass, the John Wayne Trail is most definitely the way to go! The tunnel under the pass is an awesome experience! Have lights though! After Bend you can jump on the freeway for about 7 miles and then connect with the I-90 trail system pretty much all the way into Seattle. Here is my route from Ellensburg to North Bend in two links:
Except for the freeway section Ellensburg to Easton was be beautiful! The ride on the John Wayne trail is an easy one...the scenery is stunning the whole way to North Bend. It is also down hill for at least 30 miles from the west side of the pass.
09-24-12, 08:38 AM
I don't think so. The only alternate road is Power Line Rd., which I don't think is paved or even goes through. Have you ridden it? That section of 20 is flat, anyway.
Sorry. That was a "mis-type." I mean between Marblemount and Rockport. Have ridden that way east to west twice. Took some non-20 road(s) between Howard Miller in Rockport and Marblemount.
10-21-12, 08:27 PM
Thank you all for your advice. We had a great ride ... and if you like I've posted some pics' on my facebook site
From Spokane (Oct 1) we rode to Davenport on Day 1 ( a very short day since it took about 4 hours to get my bike re-assembled before heading out). Beautiful back road N. of Rt2 between Reardan and Davenport. Day 2 was Davenport to Wilbur .. RT 2 was good through here. Caught a ride to Grand Coulee to make up for late start on Day 1. Awesome fresh fruit stand S. of Colville ... then hit a 35 - 45 mph headwind ... after riding about 2 miles in lowest gear for an hour a passing pickup gave us a ride to Nespelem .. then after waiting for Sonny to finish work at the Tribal Community Center he drove us via the back road (would be great ride without the headwind!) on to the town park in Okanogan where they allow camping in the park. At this point we followed RT 20, with occasional back roads, all the way to Marblemount (Adventure Cycling Assoc - Northern Tier, map covers this area along 20). A number of forest service campgrounds along this area, beware that by Oct 1 they have turned off the water in most of the campgrounds so you've got to carry whatever you might need... took the parallel road S of RT 20 past Rockport and then headed S to Darrington. 3 mi west of Darrington on 520 there is a County run campground. Normally $20/night but no one was around and perhaps was officially closed by this time of year. Sometime would love the take the long way around from Darrington (headed S then west) to Granite Falls. But .. .on our last day of riding we had to get all the way into Seattle so I could get the bike back in a box to fly back to Phoenix the next day. Anyway ... 520 into Arlington was a nice ride. Then there is rail to trails from Arlington to Snohomish .. nice trail. From Snohomish into Seattle there is a route planned out Generally - Broadway to Malby, then smaller roads parallel to 520 to Woodinville and then picking up the Burke-Gillman Trail the rest of the way into downtown Seattle. It was an awesome tour ... great moutain passes, awesome downhills, beautiful countryside, even perfect weather (though 20 degrees in the morning before climbing Washington Pass was a bit cool). Mostly a priceless opportunity to ride with my son.
Thanks again for all the great route suggestions.
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