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Old 05-03-07, 05:36 PM   #1
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san juan islands/victoria in aug 5 days: need help

need help planning san juan islands area tour
in early aug for 5-7 days:

My gal and I will be doing our first tour together in early august
(we were thinking of doing the okanagan valley, but given the traffic
(she's new to biking) and the heat, that it be best to delay that 'til
late sept/early oct as part of the okanagan wine fest)

...anyhow we thought the san juan islands would be ideal
with less traffic / cooler temps near the ocean.

So we thought: start off in san juan/friday harbour
then head to Ortez and lastly to Lopez...but my gal says
the islands are small and so you could do these in a few I thought of heading to vancouver island and checking
out some wineries there (hiccup! ...

any other suggestions?
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Old 05-03-07, 11:07 PM   #2
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They are small but it's not hard to do at least 40 miles each on San Juan, Lopez and Orcas. And there are a lot of roads you will just want to explore. If you have five days, the islands will keep you entertained and wanting more. If you tried to include Vancouver Island for that period of time, I think you might regret it unless you and your gf like to do a lot of miles. Since you are in Vancouver, what about the Gulf Islands? I have been going to both the Gulf Islands and the San Juans for years and prefer the former. But then again, that was when I was living in the states and felt good going to another country. But also, the Gulf Islands seem less developed. Someone else recently had a post so scroll down and look for the other San Juan thread.

You could also park at Tawassen, bike to North Vancouver and take the ferry to Nanaimo. From there, down to Crofton and over to Salt Spring plus whatever other islands you want to see and back to Tawassen. A firend and I did a variation of that many years ago. The ride from Tawasssen to North Vancouver was a little interesting but doable w/ the Vancouver cycling map.
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Old 05-03-07, 11:35 PM   #3
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Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast are worth doing as are the Gulf Islands (Pender, Mayne, etc.). A loop from Victoria up to Comox then down the Sunshine Coast would fit in with your plans and can be done in four days if you can do 120 km or so a day.

The Galloping Goose trail from Victoria to Leechtown (basically just the end of the trail, there's nothing left of Leechtown to see) is a wonderful ride in the summer. It's mostly smooth, hard, flat gravel easily doable on a touring bike, I'd even risk it on an unloaded road bike. The Saanich peninsula and Metchosin areas are also nice areas to cycle on reasonably quiet (but hilly, all of Vancouver Island is hilly) roads.

If you don't want to do the Sunshine Coast you could ride from Victoria to Nanaimo and take the ferry to either Horseshoe Bay or Tsawassen. Take the ferry from Brentwood Bay to Mill Bay to avoid the steep and busy Malahat then follow the back roads north through Crofton and Chemainus to Ladysmith. More back roads through Cedar will get you to Nanaimo with very little highway riding.

Another option would be to tour Saltspring Island then take the ferry to Crofton. Continue to Nanaimo or Comox. There is also a nice rail-to-trails path from Duncan to Lake Cowichan. Return on the same path or loop via a rougher path that parallels the road back to Duncan (lots of wineries in the Duncan area). Saltspring Island can be reached from the Swartz Bay ferry or by the ferry that serves the other Gulf Islands.

I assume you already know that a ferry connects Anacortes to Sidney. There is also a ferry from downtown Victoria to Port Angeles. I haven't done it yet but there is supposed to be a nice bike trail that extends east and west from there.

Or head south from the San Juans and keep going until you run out of time, then take the bus back or get a one way car rental to Bellingham. The best part of the American west coast is further south (Oregon) but Washington is nice too.

If you decide to come to Victoria PM me for more details,
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Old 05-04-07, 12:36 AM   #4
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Another Gulf Island loop;Tswassen ferry to Salt Spring over to Crofton ,down to Mill Bay over Brentwood then back to Tswassen.There are a couple of winneries on that route so you would be able to stop and sip enroute.Remember not to drink and ride.The route should give you a couple of spare days to explore the islands
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Old 05-04-07, 01:29 AM   #5
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All islands are not created equal - especially the San Juans.
If you are going with your girlfriend, it would be nice to know how much experience both of you have.
A friend of mine almost lost his girlfriend on the long climb to the state park on Orcas.

My bet would be to start on Lopez - the easiest and most delightful of the islands.
There are two campgrounds on the north - not too far from the ferry landing.
The state park has reservable beachfront campsites that are awesome if you get them in time.
Lopez village has a small grocery store and cafe - very nice.
Plus there's Agate Beach with its many-hued stones -
And Shark Reef with spectacular views and powerful tides.
Easily a full day if not more.

Orcas is much busier and tougher riding.
It's like an hour and a half riding to Moran State Park.
Eastsound is the main town with stores and such.
North Beach has great views of the Straits.
Then there's the mountain at the state park
with incredible views of the Olympics - if it's a clear day.

Next would be Shaw Island - the smallest and quietest of the main islands.
There's a small campground on the beach a few miles from the ferry landing -
But a ride to the western tip of the island is surprisingly hilly.
I think the coke machine at the ferry dock is the only thing you can buy on the island.
Makes a nice, quiet interlude.

Finally there's San Juan Island - Friday Harbor can be a zoo on weekends.
Lots of bars, restaurants, hotels, shops etc.
The one campground is on the opposite side of the island - an hour ride, maybe?
It has great views over to Vancouver Island.
There are two major loops on the island - one to the north and the other to the south.
Again, you could easily spend a day or more riding - plus it's fairly hilly.

If you do one of the BC Gulf Islands, I would choose something other than Salt Spring.
Salt Spring has a lot of traffic and some killer hills. I'd do Pender.

PS - AAA Washington has a wonderful, detailed map of the San Juan Islands.
Square One Maps - - Best map out there.
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Old 05-04-07, 06:05 PM   #6
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You could add Victoria and forget the Gulf Islands. Ferry riding could take up significant time...are there ferries between the Gulf Islands and the San Juans? That take bikes?

There is one ferry that you can take from San Juan Island into Victoria (it's private, I believe, and I forget the name at the moment). There isn't much for camping on Vancouver Island around Victoria--RV parks at best. But, the dorms at the Univ of Victoria are great. Cheap, nice ride to the campus, and buses that go directly from the UVic to downtown if you want, for example, to stay out later and have some drinks along the water's edge. You can put your bike in the dorm room, too.
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