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Riding the Washington Coast

Old 11-02-03, 06:39 PM
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Riding the Washington Coast

I am planning a tour that we plan on starting in Victoria and ending up in Calif. I have already done the Oregon coast and am interested in hearing from someone who has done the Washington coast stretch. I already have all the books about biking the west coast.

MBD

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Old 11-02-03, 07:21 PM
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I can tell you about the coast from Aberdeen south to Raymond on hwy 105 The trip between Aberdeen and Westport is breathtaking lots of ocean scenery and the cranberry bogs are cool Traffic is not bad and for the most part you have good shoulder to ride on. when you get close to Westport There is a very wide shoulder for the duration of the trip. you will travel inland a bit until you get south of Grayland then its it just like the Oregon coast. Take a camera, I would plan this trip for late spring or summer. The weather can be prett dicey over ther efrom October until May. Lots of wind and rain. What route are you thinking of when you reach Washington I may have some insight for you on that also.
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Old 11-02-03, 07:46 PM
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Thanks for the info. Our plan is to starting at Port Angeles and head on down 101 to Astoria. We loved the ride down the Oregon Coast. It took 9 days and at the end, I wasn't really ready for it to be over. So thats when I thought it would be cool to start at Victoria, (just so we could say we rode from Canada to Calif).

However I have heard alot say that the Wash. stretch is'nt worth the effort. Do you have any thoughts on that? We are planning the ride to be mid July and expect to ride the washington stretch in 3 days. Keep in mind that we do like to stop here and there if the moved to.
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Old 11-02-03, 09:47 PM
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if you take 101 Down the west side or ocean side after the highway begins it journey south it will not give you much in ocean scenery until Aberdeen and I do not know anything about the road i.e. does it have a shoulder or not. It is very remote after you start south until you get to Aberdeen. you do need to watch for logging trucks. Around Aberdeen there is a trail you can take (I have been trying to find it on my map I will email a friend and post it soon I hope.) that will keep you off the hiway because there is not much of a shoulder through Aberdeen, after that it is pretty good but you will want to take hwy 105 instead of 101 for scenery. 101 doesn't go near the ocean at that point not until you pick it up again in Raymond. If you go down the Hoods canal side it will give you scenery until Mason County then it does have a shoulder but it is heavily traveled until it turns west then I find it scenic but no ocean until you pick up hwy 105 at Aberdeen. I did a ride last year from Westport to Raymond and back With a side trip to Tokeland for breakfast it was spectacular to sit at the end of the Penisula and watch the Pacific no better way to spend a Sunday morning.
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Old 11-03-03, 07:49 AM
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While the scenery on the Olympic Peninsula would have been to die for from a car or motorcycle, I found the riding to be too stressful. Ngateguy is entirely right about coal trucks and one should keep in mind that, when on the peninsula, 101 is the main artery for every local, tourist, or industry. The shoulder is decent but filled with cracked up bottles, trash, and at times is nonexistent. Now, I've only done the Hood Canal side, so I can't say much for the ocean side, but I don't see how it could be much different. What I would recomend is traveling through the islands of Puget Sound. Whidby has some of the best biking I've seen anywhere and Vashon is one of the more pleasent places on Earth to me. Granted it might take a little longer and there is the added cost of traveling the ferries (which, to me, is a pleasure in itself) but I think you'd find the experience well worth it. Also, the only time to do this is in July/August- doing it any other time is short-changing yourself.
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Old 11-03-03, 09:30 AM
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JLahr thanks for the reply, how would you compare the peninsula to the conditions of riding 101 on the Oregon Coast. They have logging trucks ect and I thought that would bother me, but has it turned out I did'nt find it stressfull other than tunnels. Would you say it the Peninsula would be different than 101 in Ore. Have you tried the Ore Coast? I did'nt find that the ore stretch had problems with litter on the shoulder. And though there can be alot of traffic they don't get up a great deal of speed.

MBD

PS thought of doing the islands, but I don't think we have time.
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Old 11-03-03, 12:56 PM
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I can't really say about the Ore coast because I've never been down there. If you've been on busy two-lane highways like 101 and can deal with the continuous stream of cars and trucks than you might find that the Peninsula is no problem at all. I personally find cars to be the most stressful part of my trips so I avoid them at all costs and opt for more rural routes.
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Old 11-03-03, 02:30 PM
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I know what you mean. I think what make it work in Oregon is the tho there is a steady stream of traffic they have a hard time getting up much speed.

When I first saw what it was like, I imagined that I would have a nervous feeling all the time. But I did'nt feel that way at all. It was one of the funnest things I have ever done in my life. And I am really stoked that my son wants to go again.

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Old 01-04-13, 09:53 PM
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Which is the better route through Washington?? From Port Angeles is Highway 101 West(Coast) or Eastside of the olympic mtns better to Ride??? For Scenery and for riding ??? Does anyone know???

-Brett
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Old 01-04-13, 10:42 PM
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It's the remoteness, not the coastness, that makes the west side 101 trip something special.

The ride is nice on the east side along the Hood Canal, but you must ride the West side of the Olympics. the east side doesn't offer the rain forest of the west side for starters, although very pretty along the Canal, is quite a bit more pedestrian, and busier.

I would REALLY recommend side trips. Google "olympic hot springs". GO.

You can ride your bike right to the primitive campground (cars get stopped a couple of miles back) and these hot springs in a national park, mind you, are the best set of natural hot springs i've visited in the USA.

I could recommend a lot of stellar side trips off of the 101 along the way, but the side trips are quite the side trip, like the ride to Neah Bay and peddling from there down to Forks to reconnect with the 101 on the way to Oregon out of Port Angeles.

That ride is where you get a LOT of the fantastic scenery of Washington's coast by road.

The regular ride along Lake Crescent is quite nice. Take some side hikes into the rain forest.

Then there's Forks, the town of recent renown due to the Twilight vampire movies? always a hoot, i guess, although a pretty quiet logging town otherwise.

One nice thing about this ride is there are THREE national park lodges located in a EASY days' bike riding distance from each other along this ride...... Lake Crescent, Klalaloch, and Lake Quinault. This totally takes care of the remoteness factor.

Oh, and although not a national park lodge, the Ocean Crest Resort in Moclips, the next worthwhile stop for vittles past Lake Quinault's lodge, is worth the stop for the museum worthy examples of historic Native American beadwork and handicrafts scattered in the dining room and lodge.

The west side between Port Angeles and Oregon is where it's at for a bike tourist.

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Old 01-04-13, 10:47 PM
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I've circumnavigated the Olympic Peninsula - so I know both ocean side and sound side.
For southbound riders - it's great to start at Neah Bay - way out on the tip.
Hwy 112 has spectacular scenery along the Strait of Juan de Fuca - plus tailwinds.
From Port Angeles I would recommend the east side of the Olympic Peninsula.
The west side is mostly deep forest - even the Kalaloch section has limited views.
The east side doesn't have many more views and does have more traffic -
but it is 10 degrees warmer in summer with less than half as much rain.
I had a gloomy, soggy ride on the west side - sunny, pleasant ride on the east side.

YMMV

From Hoodsport you can head up into Olympic NP - but it is fairly busy.
10 miles south of Hoodsport you can cut over to Matlock and Satsop - nice county road.
There are back roads all the way to Aberdeen.
Hwy 105 along Grays Harbor and US 101 along Willapa Bay are nice.
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Old 01-05-13, 06:03 AM
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Best wilderness soaking hot springs in a national park in the US are about 20 miles outside of Port Angeles up the Elwha river. But you're got to ride West on the 101 out of Port Angeles.

From Port Angeles or even Port Townsend, I'd recommend riders go west unless they have to be in Oregon in two days.

The ride to the west is unquestionably best.

The very senic 112 to Neah Bay can be tackled after the hot springs by riding the enjoyable Joyce Piedmont Road between the north end of Lake Crescent to the 112 route to Neah Bay. I'd recommend heading to Neah Bay (grocery store, but dry reservation), then the ride to Cape Flattery, the most western point in the continental US - short hike to that view. that's a point to tick off the list, btw.

camping on the beach just south of cape flattery, pay the family that runs it, or hide yourself in the woods up on the Cape. The roads inland from the Cape Flattery provide a short clic to an unsigned, but easy to find overlook (the locals all know about it, but don't ask for directions, just find it on your own) to camp at that has a view of the sunset over Cape Flattery- an amazing place to stop or camp if you've got the wherewithal, but the beach campground is legit and a good way to pay back the tribal members that have reign on that patch of america.

then backtrack to the 113, or ride thru the logging roads of the rain forest to check out Historic Lake Ozette and the sea stacks of the coast via a side hike to the beaches if unwilling to backtrack to get to the 113, Sappho, and then onto Forks, the only real city between Port Angeles and Ocean Shores.

Even though there's not much civilization out there, don't forget the park lodges and stores at Lake Crescent, Klalaloch, Lake Quinalt. A cyclotourist can, should spend a couple of hours. I'd suggest timing your visits to catch a breakfast at the dining rooms at each of these National Park lodges, before walking the grounds and short hikes to some of the biggest evergreens in the world.

the ride thru the west side, not the east, takes a rider thru verdant temperate rain forest found in only a couple of places in the continental US. The Olympic may be the only temperate rain forest in the continental US, I forget. (these are mostly found chiefly Canada's Vancouver island, the coast ranges north, and Hawaii's volcanos, but i digress) If you ride east, you miss this entirely.

The Ocean Crest at Moclips presents the next civilized stop, before a small grocery store in Moclips, then on to Ocean Shores that will seem like a seething beach resort town after the quiet of the rain forest.

A rider with a couple of extra days is well advised to take the short ride from Forks to the sleepy La Push, to hike to Second and Third beaches on the Olympic coast. Camp on second beach, or third beach, absolutely sublime. This is about 15 miles from Forks.


The real beauty on the Olympic peninsula is the side trips. Take the ride down from Hurricane Ridge. I wouldn't recommend a tourist hump their loaded bike to the top of Hurricane, but if you want stunningly beautiful vistas then a 5,000 foot descent looking out into the mountains of canada across the Straight of Juan de Fuca, finagle a ride in a pickup truck with an unloaded bike to the Hurricane Ridge visitor center in the Olympic National Park before leaving PA.

IF you still decide to ride the pedestrian east side of the 101 and can ride mild dirt roads, there is a wonderful shortcut up and over the olympics between PA and Quilcene, that rolls past the Dungeness Forks campground, to one of the best paved wilderness descents in Washington state. I've found it to be the best backroad descent in the state, but there may be some out towards Idaho i might have missed.




I can help with directions for that if you decide to ride the east side. This is the only thru high road that cuts across the olympics btw, the other high roads on the entire peninsula are ALL either dead ends, or low.



The Quilcene crossover high road is one of the few attractions on the East side worth detouring for.

Like i said earlier, the West half of the Olympic Peninsula is clearly best.

The real trick for the bike tourist is to plan the time, and chart out a wandering route on the Olympic Peninsula, to avoid developing road blindness from sticking to the main road around.

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Old 01-05-13, 07:37 AM
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To illustrate:



If you look at the Olympic Peninsula, you can see that the east side gets far less rain than the west side.
The route of US 101 west side roughly follows the 120-inch line - that's a lot of rain.
(And that's why you have temperate rainforest in the region.)
The route of US 101 east side roughly follows the 60-inich line along Hood Canal.
(And in the rain shadow around Sequim its only 30 inches.)

Even in mid-summer you can get long wet stretches in the west.
These are broken up with warm sunny days - some years more so than others.
If you happen to ride during one of these sunny stretches it can be lovely.
But if you have three days of chilly drizzle, it can be nasty.



This past July had slightly below normal temps and normal precipitation.
Early July was yucky - followed by two weeks of nice weather - then two weeks of iffy weather.

Oh, and has anybody mentioned the Olympic Discovery Trail from Port Angeles to east of Sequim?
Paved, with a few stretches right on the water. Avoids the busiest stretch of US 101.

You can always play it by ear -
If the weather is nice, head west - - if questionable, head east.

BTW, three days is a stretch - would almost force you to do east side with no side trips.
(You did, after all, take 9 days to do the Oregon Coast and there is, apparently a "we" in this.)
If you want to do Hwy 105 and a side trip into Olympic NP you need to give yourself four days, minimum.

Although I disagree with Beko on US 101 route, I agree that there much to see on the Washington coast.
It just takes a little more effort since there is no coastal highway like in Oregon.
My pick for best "detour" - - Neah Bay and Shi Shi Beach - - fairly quiet on a weekday.

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Old 01-05-13, 08:18 AM
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I'll have to respectfully both agree and disagree.

Both sides are rideable, and weather is weather whether it's east or west, a little more soak is to be expected if you've chosen to ride thru a rain forest, after all, isn't it? Bring a raincoat and a pile jacket or something, you'll be fine.

The 'less rain' thing also means -no rain forest. Missing the forest for the forecast. (ha!) That's why they put the national park there. the 101 on the east misses it entirely.



I guess it depends on if the OP has four days versus a week and a half, and whether the OP wants to see the Olympic Peninsula and real natural spendor, natural park sites and ecologic diversity it has to offer, or choose a perfectly nice, but far more sterile and busier ride down the Hood Canal and thru logged over, casino country to the coast and points south.

Yes, I can certainly recommend the Discovery trail, a fantastic off road cut across nice lavender fields and bays of the straight of juan de fuca, (John Wayne Marina) and keep on going to port townsend is very nice historical city- but it's a day ride to and from from Port Angeles to Port Towsend and back. It's a great ride though. Stop at Fat Smitty's for a burger. Last time i rode the trail it was less than a 20 miles detour.

Do it as an out and back from the Black Ball ferry terminal if the OP makes hotel reservations in Port Angeles the first day, or camping out of town at Salt Lick State park right on the coast, about a 15 mile ride out of PA towards Neah Bay. Very nice state park with coast, tide pools, views from the campground and nice trails, 19th century military cannon batteries, a snack stand, and great sunset/ low tide wandering.

I can't recommend taking time to focus on the 105 at all, as I'd liken it to a service road to a resort community and a bunch of vacation homes and timeshares. It's more like riding Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head Island than the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, but about 30 degrees cooler. If you like a lot of resort traffic, indian casinos, and souvenir shops, be my guest.

Riders that would like to do an actual Olympic Peninsula, National Park, coastal wilds and rain forest wonders of the Pacific Northwest tour head WEST on the 101, and deviate substantially from it in a hunt for the goods.

You'll get to the beach spit towns of SW Washington eventually, if you need to see another t-shirt shop that looks out on a beach.

Even with a 3 day itinerary from Port Angeles I'd still hustle west on the 101.

Day 1, Port Angeles to Forks. 56 miles. Stop at the Lake Crescent lodge for lunch and a walk in the rain forest.

Day 2, Forks to Lake Quinault Lodge. stops at Kalaloch for lunch and coast/beach stop, then to Lake Quinault for dinner. Rain forest and BIG trees at Quinault, worlds biggest right there on the interpretive trail. the long day, 67 miles. Stay at the lodge, or camp.

Day 3, Lake Quinault to Ocean Shores. 46 miles. Breakfast at the Lodge, then lunch in Ocean Shores, ride the timeshare resort sprawl to meet the Westport ferry to Westport and the 105. 8 bucks with your bike.

There you go, easy pleasy, three days, only one day over 60 miles, three extensive dips into the national park, and with a LOT more to offer the cyclo tourist. I'ts not even that hilly.

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Old 01-05-13, 09:00 AM
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Yes, I agree that southern Washington beaches are ticky-tacky.
And Hwy 105 has few ocean views and many beach houses.
But there are nice stretches along Grays Harbor -
And especially nice views of the entrance to Willapa Bay.
In fact - the stretch along Willapa is about as close to salt water as you get in Wash.

And Hwy 4 from Naselle thru Skamokawa to Cathlamet and the ferry crossing -
offers a sense of western Washington from fifty or more years ago.
Steamboat Slough Road, although short, has spectacular views of the Columbia.

Way, way better than Astoria to Seaside.
It's all relative - ain't it?

BTW - the OP is from Utah so he may not have many duck feathers - esp. at the beginning of a trip.
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Old 01-05-13, 09:25 AM
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I can't agree that's the winner in the choice of routes out of Port Angeles, jamawani.

The abundant gems of the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park are on the west side ride of the 101.

There's no dispute about this, by the way, despite them being more likely to glisten from the sheen of a morning cloud burst. That's why there's a rain forest.

That's also why there's three national park lodges along the way. Three, Jamawani. Lest not forget the best soakable wilderness hot springs in a National Park in America, a short side trip into the park, that happen to be totally accessible by bike...

West IS best on the 101.

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Old 01-05-13, 10:47 AM
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Beko -

I'm no shrinking violet when it comes to touring.
I include a lot of dirt on my tours - including Alaska, the Yukon, and the NWT.
I don't think I've ever felt colder or wetter than on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula.
Twice - in July and in August - maybe I just got a bad draw of the cards.

Not to mention that the loggers were in one of their many fights with environmentalists -
And the people in the Forks cafe where I had stopped to get in out of the rain -
Looked at me like I was the second coming of Jane Fonda.

And I know remote given I have been on dirt roads in Wyoming - 40 miles from civilization.
(Civilization in this case meaning a ramshackle bar/store/post office/cafe with a trailer out back)
When I lived in Jackson, I would run into visitors who were nearly killed by mountain bike companies.
Young locals would take them out on fabulous - but exhausting - routes.

From the sound of it, MBD is relatively new to touring and is looking a a fairly straight shot.
Surely, you will admit that staying on US 101 on the west side is not the prize winner.
To really enjoy the Olympic Peninsula you have to head to Neah Bay or Quileute -
Ride up into the park to Sol Duc Springs or to Hoh Rain Forest.

If that is what MBD wants to do, then the west side makes sense.
But if he wants to mosey down the coast in a few days as part of a Pacific Coast tour -
Then what you describe is not what he has in mind.

Touring the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest often requires out-and-back riding.
That's something that many touring cyclists are not willing to do - regrettably.
And although I agree with all of your superlatives -
I don't think that's what MBD wants to do.

PS - I've had the pleasure of touring NW rainforest in Alaska, Vancouver Island, as well as the Olympic Penin.

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Old 01-05-13, 11:00 AM
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what's not straightforward about a 3 day tour, thru extensive sections of national park, riding a 60, a 70, and a 50 mile day, visiting three different national park lodges, each one right in the rain forest, on a low traffic, low elevation state scenic highway? The highest elevation on the West route might be 1000 feet, the east side is double that i believe, with what i estimate is a lot more overall elevation.

Honestly, jamawani, I think you're scaring away the tourists. It's not THAT bad, dude. it's might be a bit wetter.

straightforward choices, rain forest and three national park lodges makes the west side a clear winner. it's really not open to debate. How many WPA era national park lodges are on the east side again? what's there is clearcuts and casinos.

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Old 01-05-13, 11:11 AM
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Interesting map on #13.. its about topography a lot of the green and yellow is Mountainous ,
to pass over the Higher elevations clouds shed the weight of the water.
the purple spot is the tip of the Olympic mountain.. 7000+'
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Old 01-05-13, 11:46 AM
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most of the west side of 101 is under 500 feet, only by lake crescent is it up to 1000.
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Old 01-05-13, 11:48 AM
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Note that this thread started in 2003, close to 10 years ago.

Be that as it may, I rode the route Jamawani suggested and can say that it was very pleasant with many wonderful views and little rain. If you'd like to see some photos, check out my journal. The actual bike tour starts on this page.

View of snow topped mountains from the north end of the Hood Canal.



View along Grey Harbor.



View along Columbia River

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Old 01-05-13, 11:57 AM
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Raybo -

You win the grand prize!
2003 - - hah!!

PS - Well, then the info is for Brett.
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Old 01-05-13, 06:27 PM
  #23  
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I ridden from Victoria, heading east and then south from Astoria along hwy 101 through McCleary to Westport and Grayland on the coast, checking out Long Beach on my way through Astoria. It's a relatively easy, interesting, and scenic ride. I've also taken the long way around Washington Peninsula going west on 101 from Astoria. I don't recommend it as I found it very boring with very limited viewing or facilities, and it rains almost every day, sometimes very heavily.
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Old 01-05-13, 09:57 PM
  #24  
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wait a second, something isn't adding up...... you rode the east side, and it was "interesting" but you rode the west side and found it "boring" with limited viewing or "facilities" -

really?

how many of the national park lodges did you visit? you think a couple of less gas stations makes any difference? it's a remote part of america, yes. And yet it's not nearly as remote as riding in North Dakota. The facilities are pretty modestly spaced.

I guess I'd agree though, you can see more rolling thru miles of clearcut instead of the view riding miles and miles of road underneath 600 year old cedar and spruce trees, so you're right, in a way, about the 'view' stuff.

....another case of not seeing the forest for the trees.



it's a rain forest, for gosh sakes, people.



You go and marvel at how springy the moss is underneath the 200 foot tall cedar trees.

Recommending to avoid the westside of the Olympic Peninsula because it has a couple less tiny towns and convenience stores, or the rain -the cause that really makes this patch of the country unique, is a massive FAIL on the part of some of you hard man cyclotourists.

Edit: as i think about the route and that part of Washington (20 year Washingtonian), i belive the west side has MORE facilities, more hotels and restaurants, than the Eastside ride.


Shelton, or Aberdeen, are some kind of cultural highlight, compared to the history found inside three WPA era national park lodges and along the roads in a national park? Seriously? Shelton is a logger's armpit. Aberdeen, a shell of past glory.



The West side of the olympics is fundamentally a National Park ride, like riding Yellowstone or some of the other large national parks, but without the RVs. The east side effectively misses the national park completely, traversing massive swaths of commercial logging, casino country and farmland.


A rider has to get off the bike to enjoy a national park. Kind of like the motorists having to get out of their cars.
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Old 01-06-13, 02:28 AM
  #25  
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.. less rain from mid July through September..
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