Day 3 – Bayview SP to Fort Casey SP, Port Townsend
The short Padilla Bay trail ended just north of the intersection of Bayview Edison Rd. and State Route 20 which I crossed over to a handy Farmhouse family restaurant located at the intersection.
After a hearty meal, I rode onto the shoulder of SR20 and cycled west to Fidalgo Island and then south over the Deception Pass Bridge onto Whidbey Island.
Whidbey Island is where a large US Naval Air Base is located and periodically I could hear loud jet engines overhead while continuing on SR20 south towards the town of Oak Harbor where, after about 40 km of riding, I was looking forward to a meal by this time. SR20 was quite busy on Whidbey Island, but good shoulders for the most part and polite drivers made it a pleasant ride all the same.
I stopped at the McDonalds on the way into the town centre of Oak Harbor to get some food, my WiFi fix for the day to check up on messages etc. and a short rest.
After my lunch stop, I continued on SR20 until just outside Coupeville where I turned off the busy highway south onto South Engle Rd. which was a much quieter route to Fort Casey where the ferry to Port Townsend docks. Just before the ferry landing, I rode through the Fort Casey Historical Park where there are many older troop barracks and other buildings that are now used for conventions etc.
I bought a coffee at the ferry cafe and admired the ocean views during my short wait for the ferry. The short 35 minute ferry hop over to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula went smoothly and I was soon cycling in downtown Port Townsend where a good rubbernecking is recommended around the quaint and historic town.
Fort Worden State Park overlooks the town and was my destination for this night’s campground after picking up some food and goodies for supper – perhaps a beer or two also! Fort Worden is another very well maintained scenic historic park with convention and rental accommodation in addition to a large RV and tenting campground. I found the registration building after some misdirection (Basil got me lost!) and saw the “Campground Full” sign on the door. However after inquiring about a hiker/biker area, I was pleased that there was availability. Most of hiker/biker areas in Washington State are usually classed as “primitive” and this was no exception. Nevertheless I am thankful that they are available for us self-propelled travellers. I set up my tent in one of the better spots and soon some other cyclists arrived and also setup camp. Some of us visited each other periodically over the evening and I had some pleasant company for a short while including a young couple from Holland.
I retired to my to read for a while and as I dozed off, my thoughts went to looking forward to the next day as I would only have to cycle on main roads for short periods and the rest on portions of the ODT.
The Larry Scott/Pacific Northwest Trail is more or less incorporated into the Olympic Discovery Trail with the trailhead located at the Washington St. boatyard in Port Townsend.
So after I had packed up my gear at the campground, I rode back into town for breakfast and then to the start of the hard-packed gravel trail where I cycled along the waterfront for short while before the trail turned inland and I meandered in peaceful surroundings for about 8 km before the trail ended and I was back on SR20. Cycling SR20 out of Port Townsend would have been a shorter route, but nothing beats getting away from traffic wherever possible on local trails.
Riding around Discovery Bay was necessary road riding at this point and as I was back on SR20 and its traffic, but I knew that I had another section of trail ahead of me. SR20 ends at US Highway 101 (which is even busier) and I had to cycle northeast on the wide shoulder of 101 for about 1.5 km before a right turn off the main road onto the quieter Old Gardiner Rd. After about 3 km I had to rejoin 101 for a couple of km before once again turning onto Old Gardiner Rd. Then back onto 101 for about 2.5 km before being able to turn right onto Old Blyn Highway. Even though I was riding on paved roads, the aforementioned are all part of the ODT system; details, maps and information are available on the official ODT website. Future trail updates may see more off-road trail sections?
The Old Blyn Hwy. section ended at the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal lands where there is a very nice paved path through the lands and access to bathrooms and water at a gazebo building next to the trail – supplies (ice cream) are also available at the Longhouse Market & Deli that can be accessed via a tunnel under 101.
The dedicated trail continued on for a short while again until it ended at Dawley Rd. which was basically the entrance to Sequim (pronounced “Squim”) Bay State Park.
Yes, the trail sections had been pretty quiet up to this point, but now I entered the most developed section of the ODT that runs from Sequim to Port Angeles. Just after entering the park I rode on the steep downhill paved (and some gravel) trail until it flattened out and I was on a disused railroad grade that this section follows.While riding the steep part downhill there were some cyclists pushing their bike up, lucky me! I also passed some campsites near the bottom of the steep area but elected to continue onto the city of Sequim. The campsites are available to any trail users.
Once through the park I was on the trail proper and as this was railroad grade, gentle grades, no big hills and some nice trestles to cross…
Riding towards Sequim on this section, I encountered quite a few other cyclists and trail users. As I wasn’t in a rush, I took advantage of a some convenient benches for a rest now and then to chat with some of the trail users.
On entering the outskirts of Sequim, the trail paralleled E.Washington St. (the main street) until the Chamber of Commerce (Information Centre) building where the trail turns north to follow a route through the city off the main drag.
Up to this point the weather had been fine, but as I neared Sequim, I saw some ominous clouds and felt a few raindrops, so I popped into the Chamber building to see if they could help me find me some reasonably priced indoor accommodation – no joy, the town’s motels were full due to hordes of road cyclists riding the annual “Ride the Hurricane Ridge” weekend and a convention somewhere close-by. I also learned that the motels in nearby Port Angeles were either full too or charging exorbitant prices! So camping it was to be and my choice was try (new to me) Dungeness County Park for availability. The guy at the info centre didn’t fancy my chances there either, but I had no other choice. There was a Safeway grocery down the street where I stocked up with some supplies for the evening, then rode quickly north to the waterfront park hoping that the rain would hold off.
From the store, I rode a short distance north to rejoin the trail and then cycled west for a while then left the trail and headed north on Kitchen-Dick Rd. – yes, that really is the name! That road led me directly to the park gate which I rode through looking for a manned pay booth or similar. Nothing! Just a small notice board and self-pay station with a basic layout diagram of the park. I spotted an area pencilled in on the map marked “H/B” which I figured was my kind of area, but no pricing. I set off the find the area and was pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by a large and what seemed new hiker/biker area in a fairly decent location with about 10 sites – and no one there! Whereas the rest of the park seemed full. I hurriedly set up my tent and stowed my gear inside in case the rain amounted to anything. I then rode back to the pay station and was looking for a price, when the attendant/manager showed up and told me that it was only $7 – which I gladly paid. He told me that the rain was now supposed to hold off until tomorrow according the forecasters. Back at my site, I got my stuff together and headed out to find the shower house – it was close by and I cleaned up and went back to my tent. Someone had left a small pile of firewood at one of the adjacent sites, so I lit a fire and had a “Happy Hour” in style!
After supper, I wandered around the park, chatted with a few RV campers and discovered that although the park was on the waterfront, it was on a high bluff so no beach but grand views over the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
In the morning while packing up my gear, I made coffee and a quick breakfast then set off for Port Angeles. The rain had held off all night, but I could see that the rain clouds were rolling in so my original plan of one more night just east of Port Angeles at Salt Creek Recreation Area was out and I figured that I’d better catch the ferry back over to Vancouver Island from Port Angeles. The trail from Sequim was very pleasant riding along stretches of dedicated trail and back roads through farming communities. Soon I was riding on the trail along the Port Angeles waterfront heading for the ferry dock.
I stopped at the ferry toll booth and purchased my ticket for the next ferry, which would be leaving a few hours later, but I didn’t mind waiting and explored the town a little where I found an amazing second breakfast at “The Cornerhouse Restaurant.” I didn’t dawdle too long though as I could see through the window of the cafe that the raindrops were starting up again, so I skedaddled to the warm ferry waiting room and started reading for a while. It wasn’t long before the raindrops were a full-blown rain event as other ferry passengers began drifting in. Amongst them were many road riders from the Hurricane Ridge event who had crossed over from Vancouver Island just for the day – and many of whom were ill-prepared for any wet weather. A few resembled drowned rats shivering in fits. Oh well, I guess that their bikes were nice and light without the weight of some warm clothes or raingear! Shouldn’t gloat, should I? But it was a chuckle watching the performance.
The ferry soon arrived and we were off for the hour and a half sail to Victoria, BC. The ship’s hot food and heaters were being well received by the motley wet riders. On docking, a quick trip through the customs area and I was off on my 30 km ride back to my home town of Sidney – and luckily during the sail across the strait, the heavy rain had stopped and the sun was out – wonderful!
Kudos to the trailbuilders and organisers of this very much appreciated recreational resource which is well worth exploring. Notwithstanding, much of the ODT east and west of Port Angeles is still an ongoing project with the route switching between dedicated trail and shared roads for the most part.
I would like to ride the rest of the route west in the near future, but we’ll have to see what else develops!