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  1. #1
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    Seattle & Portland - easy/moderate rides for visitors from Canada?

    Hi Everyone,

    My wife and I and another couple are planning on visiting Seattle and Portland sometime in August to do a couple of rides in each city. We are all from Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver, BC.

    We're looking for some nice easy/moderate rides - between 40 and 60 km (25 to 40 miles). Some hills are OK, but not too steep or long ones. Preferably going through some of the nicer scenic parts of town. I'm aware of the Burke-Gilman trail in Seattle and it looks great, but I'm thinking on a summer weekend it's going to be really crowded and full of slow cyclists, pedestrians etc. Am I right in that assumption? Any other suggestions for Seattle or Portland? We're going to concentrate on urban rides this time - we don't want to go out into the countryside.

    Thanks for any advice you can give!
    Bill

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    I'm in the Seattle area but don't live in the city. A loop around Mercer Island is about 10 miles, very safe with nice views and 8 miles of it have no stops or intersections. The north end has a bike path or you can sniff out the shoreline roads or just follow others, there are always plenty of bikes around there. Combine that with a trip across the I90 bridge to get there (there is a protected bike path), a trip down and around Seward Park and north along Lake Washington Boulevard up to the university will show you the nicest parts of the Lake Washington area.

    Everywhere but the Burke Gilman will be hilly. I like to tour around Magnolia, Alki in West Seattle, Ballard past the Locks to Golden Gardens Park, and Capital Hill.

    By the way, crowded on the Burke Gilman is relative. If you are a racer who wants to train at speeds, it's very crowded. If you are commuting and think it is going to be a bicycle freeway, you will be disappointed. If you are just touring and checking out the sights, it's very pleasant (except for sections which have a lot of tree roots and a short section in Ballard which is "unfinished").
    Last edited by ChinookPass; 07-09-13 at 05:56 PM.

  3. #3
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    Portland is relatively flat as long as your in the downtown area or on the east side of the willamette river, especially compared to Seattle.
    here is a link to some maps:
    http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/39402
    I would just put together a loop to places you may want to visit and connect them with the designated bike routes.
    Very short, but great loops to mix in are:
    - around the waterfront between the Steele and Hawthorne bridges.
    - put your bikes on the MAX downtown and go to the zoo stop and the. Ride all downhill through Washington Park back into the city. Do it early in the morning and catch the sun rising behind mt hood from the Rose Garden.

  4. #4
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    The Portland 40-mile loop fits your request: http://www.40mileloop.org/map_40mileloop.htm

    More rides in/around Portland: http://www.rubbertotheroad.com/?page_id=514

    The ride from downtown to Multnomah Falls is world class: http://www.rubbertotheroad.com/?p=560 . If you turn around at Crown Point, it's about 50 miles. You climb getting there, but the view is spectacular and the descent is smooth and speedy.
    Jeff Wills

    All my bikes.

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    Senior Member VaultGuru's Avatar
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    Senior Member toolbear's Avatar
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    Take a look at the choices over on traillink.com for any area of interest. There are a number of nice trails in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Thurston counties. You could spend a week having fun. Not to mention the John Wayne Pioneer Trail which runs from the Columbia to Rattlesnake Lake. For a quickie, try the Snoqualmie Tunnel section or the trestles section out of Twin Falls State Park.

    In Snohomish County, try the paved Snohomish Centennial. About 30 miles and scenic. There is the Foothills Trail in Pierce County. Thurston (Olympia) has the Chehalis-Western, which crosses the Yelm-Tenino. Lot of options. These are all blacktop.
    TrailBear

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    I'd agree with Alki as a good flat ride, except that the ride from downtown isn't particularly scenic through the industrial area. Also, nobody mentioned Lake Washington Blvd, always my favorite Seattle ride. The Burke-Gilman will be fine unless you are looking to ride fast, and 2 couples on bikes are never that fast. As you get further north it gets less crowded.

  8. #8
    John Wayne Toilet Paper nhluhr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChinookPass View Post
    I'm in the Seattle area but don't live in the city. A loop around Mercer Island is about 10 miles, very safe with nice views and 8 miles of it have no stops or intersections. The north end has a bike path or you can sniff out the shoreline roads or just follow others, there are always plenty of bikes around there. Combine that with a trip across the I90 bridge to get there (there is a protected bike path), a trip down and around Seward Park and north along Lake Washington Boulevard up to the university will show you the nicest parts of the Lake Washington area.
    Agree with this - Mercer Island is probably the easiest navigation for a bicycle. You can park at the little spot above I-90 at Lake Washington Blvd and S Irving St ( http://goo.gl/maps/Q9Fdr ), ride across I-90, then around Mercer Island on West Mercer Way which turns into East Mercer Way before transiting across the top of the island back to I-90. It's not a terribly long loop but it's nice and easy with only minor climbing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vancouver47 View Post
    Hi Everyone,

    My wife and I and another couple are planning on visiting Seattle and Portland sometime in August to do a couple of rides in each city. We are all from Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver, BC.

    We're looking for some nice easy/moderate rides - between 40 and 60 km (25 to 40 miles). Some hills are OK, but not too steep or long ones. Preferably going through some of the nicer scenic parts of town. I'm aware of the Burke-Gilman trail in Seattle and it looks great, but I'm thinking on a summer weekend it's going to be really crowded and full of slow cyclists, pedestrians etc. Am I right in that assumption? Any other suggestions for Seattle or Portland? We're going to concentrate on urban rides this time - we don't want to go out into the countryside.

    Thanks for any advice you can give!
    Bill
    My wife and I are heading to Seattle this week for a few days; looking for a few rides. You guys do your trip yet? Any feedback?

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    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks very much for all your suggestions. They were very helpful for us in planning our trip. In the end we just did Seattle, not Portland. We did a section of the Burke-Gilman trail from Gas Works Park to Bothell, and also a loop of the Green River/Interurban trail. We really enjoyed our time in the Seattle area!

    Bill

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    Hi Hydro,

    We just finished our trip this weekend. In the end we only went to Seattle, not Portland. Part of the reason for this was the difficulty for me in planning the rides. Anyway, we ended up doing a couple of really flat routes, which was good since we had 3 people with back problems on the rides. The first one was awesome and I really recommend it. We started at Gas Works Park (lots of parking and washrooms there) and went east along the Burke-Gilman trail to Bothell. It was almost exactly 50 km. The views out over Lake Washington were really spectacular - we were very impressed! The trail is paved all the way but there are quite a few bumps from tree roots that have pushed the pavement up. This is a small price to pay for all the shade you get along the way. It was pretty busy even on a Friday, so I think the weekend would be crazy. Be careful about signalling to stop because there are lots of other cyclists coming up behind you to pass. We ate at Alexa's Cafe in Bothell, which was very good, but there are also some other restaurants in this little town, right on the main street (called Main Street). If you do the ride, I suggest switching to the Samamish River Trail just before you reach Bothell since it winds through a beautiful little river valley. We just came back the same way we came, but I'm sure you could devise a loop of some sort. If you did that, you would definitely be looking at some hill climbing. It's very hilly other than the trail, which follows an old railroad bed.

    I have a map at http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3072102

    The second ride we did was a loop starting at Costco in Tukwila (lots of parking there - no one seemed to care that we were parking in the Costco lot and there were no warning signs about parking there). We went up the Green River trail for a way, then doubled back and switched over to the Interurban Trail, followed that to Kent, where we had lunch at the Ram Restaurant in the mall on the main drag (James St.). Then we crossed back over the river and went south on the Green River Trail for a while before doubling back and following the Green River Trail back to our car. If I were to do this again, I would avoid the Interurban Trail altogether and just follow the Green River Trail all the way and then back. The Interurban trail follows a railway line under power transmission poles and is really ugly scenery. The Green River Trail is quite nice, but not nearly as spectacularly scenic as the BG Trail.

    There is a map for this one at http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3073230

    Have fun!

    Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by HydroG33r View Post
    My wife and I are heading to Seattle this week for a few days; looking for a few rides. You guys do your trip yet? Any feedback?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by toolbear View Post
    In Snohomish County, try the paved Snohomish Centennial. About 30 miles and scenic. There is the Foothills Trail in Pierce County. Thurston (Olympia) has the Chehalis-Western, which crosses the Yelm-Tenino. Lot of options. These are all blacktop.

    +1 on centennial mits my favorite trial in Snohomish. Minimal hills, plenty of well paved surface and almost never crowded. Very nice country side ride.

    Burke gilman usually isn't too bad unless their is a festival or event in U District, Ballard or Fremont but even then most people are courteous and make an effort at scooting out of the way. Less country side but also great sights.
    ***
    It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by vancouver47 View Post
    Hi Hydro,

    We just finished our trip this weekend. In the end we only went to Seattle, not Portland. Part of the reason for this was the difficulty for me in planning the rides. Anyway, we ended up doing a couple of really flat routes, which was good since we had 3 people with back problems on the rides. The first one was awesome and I really recommend it. We started at Gas Works Park (lots of parking and washrooms there) and went east along the Burke-Gilman trail to Bothell. It was almost exactly 50 km. The views out over Lake Washington were really spectacular - we were very impressed! The trail is paved all the way but there are quite a few bumps from tree roots that have pushed the pavement up. This is a small price to pay for all the shade you get along the way. It was pretty busy even on a Friday, so I think the weekend would be crazy. Be careful about signalling to stop because there are lots of other cyclists coming up behind you to pass. We ate at Alexa's Cafe in Bothell, which was very good, but there are also some other restaurants in this little town, right on the main street (called Main Street). If you do the ride, I suggest switching to the Samamish River Trail just before you reach Bothell since it winds through a beautiful little river valley. We just came back the same way we came, but I'm sure you could devise a loop of some sort. If you did that, you would definitely be looking at some hill climbing. It's very hilly other than the trail, which follows an old railroad bed.

    I have a map at http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3072102

    The second ride we did was a loop starting at Costco in Tukwila (lots of parking there - no one seemed to care that we were parking in the Costco lot and there were no warning signs about parking there). We went up the Green River trail for a way, then doubled back and switched over to the Interurban Trail, followed that to Kent, where we had lunch at the Ram Restaurant in the mall on the main drag (James St.). Then we crossed back over the river and went south on the Green River Trail for a while before doubling back and following the Green River Trail back to our car. If I were to do this again, I would avoid the Interurban Trail altogether and just follow the Green River Trail all the way and then back. The Interurban trail follows a railway line under power transmission poles and is really ugly scenery. The Green River Trail is quite nice, but not nearly as spectacularly scenic as the BG Trail.

    There is a map for this one at http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3073230

    Have fun!

    Bill
    My wife and I just did the Burke-Gilman Trail this morning on your suggestion; I ride ~220km/wk commuting to work, but while she's much fitter than I, she's nursing a running injury so we wanted to take it easy. Started at Matthews Beach Park (~10km/6mi north of Gas Works Park towards Bothell), and rode to the end of the BGT in Bothell. It was a great route; flat, not busy (Wednesday ~10am), well maintained, scenic... loved every minute!

    Also stopped at Bothell Ski & Bike ~3km/2mi before the end of the trail in Bothell to get air in our tires; they're directly across the road from the trail. (http://www.bikesale.com/). Outstanding service; no problem bringing out their floor pump to give us air (or if you have Schrader valves they've got free air on a hose outside). We looked around for something to buy but didn't need anything... great bike shop though!

    Looking forward to coming back down to do the entire BGT and the Samamish River Trail, as well as the Green River Trail :-)

    http://www.strava.com/activities/76483670

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