[Updated for 2016 — See “30 places to camp for National Bike Travel Weekend“]
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission launched its new “interactive” website last week at www.parks.wa.gov.
I immediately tested its “search” function for a topic near-and-dear to my heart — bike/hike campsites. Happily, I discovered that more than a dozen of Washington’s 100 state parks host campsites that are set aside for those who arrive under their power.
The predecessor website never revealed this information.
Bike-hike campsites are commonly first-come first-served, reduced rate campsites reserved for those who arrive at the park by bicycle, by foot, or by kayak or canoe.
Here’s a list of bicycle-friendly and biker – hiker campsites in Washington state parks :
Bogachiel State Park — 2 hiker/biker campsites
Camano Island State Park — 2 hiker/biker campsites
Deception Pass State Park — 5 hiker/biker campsites
Fairholme Campground (National Park Service) – 88 campsites; first-come
Fay Bainbridge Park (operated by Bainbridge Island; not a state park) — 15 tent sites
Fort Townsend State Park — 4 hiker/biker campsites
Green Mountain Horse Camp — primitive tent sites maintained by horsemen’s association
Illahee State Park — 5 hiker/biker campsites
Iron Horse State Park — 4 small campgrounds on John Wayne Pioneer Trail (in addition to 2 hiker/biker sites at Lake Easton):
Alice Creek — Milepost 2127
Carter Creek — Milepost 2123
Cold Creek — Milepost 2113
Roaring Creek — Milepost 2109
Isput Creek Campground (Mount Rainier National Park) — 28 campsites (all first come; wilderness permit required)
Joemma Beach State Park — 2 hiker/biker/kayaker campsites
Lake Easton State Park — 2 hiker/biker campsites
Lewis and Clark State Park — 1 hiker/biker campsite
Manchester State Park — 3 hiker/biker campsites
Middle Fork Campground (US Forest Service) — 39 tent campsites (closed for 2016 season due to road work)
Rainbow Falls State Park — 3 hiker/biker campsites
Rasar State Park — 3 hiker/biker campsites
Spencer Spit State Park — 7 hiker/biker/kayaker campsites
Tolt MacDonald (King) County Park — 22 campsites (reservation and 1st come) and six yurts (reservation)
Twin Harbors State Park — 4 hiker/biker campsites
As you can see, the campsites are concentrated in western Washington. Many other Washington state parks have camping facilities; these are the only ones listed with biker/hiker campsites.
One advantage of biker/hiker campsites is that people traveling under their own power can’t always predict how far they’ll get in one day. If one campground is full, it’s not always possible to pedal through the night to the next site.
Also, many of the bike-hike campgrounds are communal, so there’s always room for one more traveler.
They should be easy enough build. You just need some flat spaces, a fire ring and a picnic table or two. You don’t need a 400-square-foot pad to park a recreational vehicle or electrical hook-ups.
I’d like to see all the state campgrounds have a couple of biker-hiker spots. Virginia, for instance, has a policy that all state campgrounds set aside an area for bicyclists to pitch their tents, even when the campground is otherwise full. The Virginia Bicycling Federation explains the details.
Although Washington state doesn’t have such an official policy, I was assured by a parks customer service specialist several years ago that “they would do their best not to turn away any camper arriving under their own power (hiking or biking) but would find a site even if it was just for the night.”
Other states where parks offer “guaranteed camping” policies include Oregon, California,
Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota.
Also, see the Kansas Cyclist Bicycle Camping Resources by State.
The National Forests of Washington also are available for primitive camping.