Someone asked me recently if I was going to do any bicycle touring this summer, and I realized that I hadn’t really thought about it.
Too often my bike tours are last-minute decisions, and I end up filling my panniers with anything within reach and roll down the driveway toward the John Wayne Pioneer rail-trail.
I talked with Andy Stevenson, co-president of the Peninsula Trail Coalition. He said that he might be prejudiced, but…
“The rail-trail and path system up here is every bit as wonderful as anywhere else in the world. The only problem is that no one knows about it.”
That sounds like a good destination for this summer; now I just need to carve out some time to go. I toured up there on my bicycle about six years ago, and it sounds much more complete that it was then.
Actually, there are two east-west trails that roughly follow the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The Olympic Discovery Trail is a rail-trail that traverses the Olympic Peninsula from Port Townsend to La Push. It’s about 130 miles long, of which 40 percent — or slightly more than 50 miles — is hard-surface trail.
The longest stretch of paved trail is 37 miles from Blyn (located east of Sequim) to the Elwha River west of Port Angeles. The remaining 60 percent is on paved road shoulder.
Some of those road shoulder miles are on Highway 101 as it skirts the south shore of Lake Crescent. Although I never felt in danger the last time I rode it about six years ago, it wasn’t particularly pleasant.
Now the association, federal, state and local governments have an agreement to shore up the old Spruce Railroad Trail on the north side of Lake Crescent to make it passable for bicycles, equestrians, even people in wheelchairs.
The work on a 3-1/2 mile segment includes two tunnels. Trail segments that will connect to the Spruce Railroad Trail already have been built.
Over on the Port Townsend end of the corridor, a 7-mile section of the trail has recently been paved and opened.
Meanwhile, there’s a 25-mile mountain bike trail called the Olympic Adventure Trail that runs from Elwha River Road west of Port Angeles to the trailhead for the Spruce Railroad Trail on the north side of Lake Crescent. Stevenson said dirt singletrack has great views to the north and south and is rideable year-around.
If you’d like to explore the Olympic Discovery Trail during an organized event with lots of support around, consider the Olympic Bike Adventure coming up on Sept. 15, 2013. It rolls out between Port Angeles and Sequim on route options of 10 and 25 miles and a metric century of about 62 miles.