Olympic Peninsula Circle Tour – 2019

Day 7 – Quilcene to Oak Harbor

After packing up and leaving the motel, I rolled over to the cafe for a really nice plateful of breakfast essentials and a few cups of coffee. The place was busy with locals and it was fun to listen to the conversations and laughter.
Soon enough it was time to hit the road and pedal northbound on 101.
Actually from Quilcene, I had two choices…
First choice was to ride on 101 to Discovery Bay and the junction of WA-20, then head northeast on 20 to Port Townsend.
Or from Quilcene, take Center Rd to Chimacum, then WA-19 to Four Corners Rd. After crossing WA-20, Four Corners Rd becomes S. Discovery Rd which then leads to the Larry Scott Trailhead (the ideal cycling route into Port Townsend and also part of of the Pacific Northwest Trail & ODT).
So 101 was the choice and that section was quite a pleasant ride, but I’d forgotten how busy and narrow WA-20 was and ended up taking that option, I should have taken the Center Rd option, even with the initial climb out of Quilcene it is a much nicer route than braving the traffic on WA-20 in that section – lesson learned, won’t do that again!

101 North to Discovery Bay
101 North to Discovery Bay

After 101, I joined onto WA-20 at Discovery Bay and immediately noticed my mistake by the proliferation of vehicles and also the initial 2 km climb on the narrow roadway with barely any shoulder. But I soldiered on cursing at myself, and Basil for that matter! I was more than glad to breathe easier and escape WA-20 when after 10 km I reached Four Corners and then turned onto S. Discovery Rd. From there after a short distance I turned onto Milo Curry Rd. and to the trailhead of the Larry Scott Trail which was a very pleasant ride on smooth gravel all the way into Port Townsend. The last section of the trail was on waterfront passing the large paper mill there at some point.

Paper Mill at Port Townsend
Paper Mill at Port Townsend

From Port Townsend I would have to take the short Washington State Ferry ride over to Whidbey Island. I was a little early for the next ferry , so pulled into McD’s for a fast food fix and a coffee. Adequately satiated, I rode the short distance to the downtown area of Port Townsend to have a quick ride down the main street and rubberneck at a lot of wonderful historic architecture there. Of course, the city is very popular with tourists so I dodged many of those on the way to the ferry terminal (I guess I was a tourist too!).
The terminal was full of them too and vehicles were also in the overflow lane, but I knew that the ferry always accommodates walk-on and cycling passengers, so no problem for me. When the ferry arrived, I walked the bike on and stowed it in a safe area to enjoy the pleasant half-hour sail to the Keystone Ferry landing on Whidbey Island. The ferry’s actual route is called the “Port Townsend-Coupeville Ferry” as Coupeville is the closest town to the ferry dock. The Keystone dock is part of Fort Casey, an old army fort, barracks and now a State Park.
Most of the vehicle ferry traffic turn right onto WA-20 after disembarking, but I knew better than to take that route and turned left onto S. Engle Rd, a much more scenic and quiet route into Coupeville. WA-20 skirts to the south of Coupeville, but I just stayed on my road then across 20 and directly into the downtown – ice-cream stop there! Coupeville is another scenic historic seaport town with much to offer – also usually very busy in the Summer months.
Cooled off by the delicious ice-cream, I left the town on Madrona Way – another WA-20 avoidance route, however at Coveland I had to join onto 20 for a kilometer until Penn Cove Pottery where I walked the bike over a grass divider to Penn Cove Rd.

North of Coupeville on WA-20
North of Coupeville on Penn Cove Rd.

From Penn Cove Rd. I took the first left to reach Arnold Rd which ended at N Monroe Landing Rd. where I went north heading for another short stint on 20 to W. Miller Rd., Balda Rd. and SW. Scenic Heights St. which joined onto the downtown section of 20 and onto my motel in Oak Harbor (Waypoint “9” on the map) for the night – yes, no camping again, I am getting spoiled!
Oak Harbor is the largest city on Whidbey Island and quite a busy place too, as just north of Oak Harbor is a large Naval Air Station which I would pass on the next day’s ride., so lots of options for food and drink within a short walk from my motel.

Day 8 – Oak Harbor to Anacortes

After a restful night, I had yet another free breakfast at the motel then set off north on the back streets of Oak Harbor to join onto 20 about 4 km out of town. I had to stay on 20 for about 6 km until I could duck out onto Monkey Hill Rd then onto Ducken Rd., which deposited me back onto 20 at the outskirts of Deception Pass State Park. Then a climb with not much shoulder to the high bridge leading to Fidalgo Island. This is the end of the 20 on Whidbey Island. The bridge is only two lanes (one each way) with a very narrow sidewalk (not doable with a loaded bike) so I waited for a break in traffic, took the center of the lane (in case some idiot tried to pass me with little room to do so!) and cycled across the first part of the bridge. There is a pull-off about two-thirds of the way across, so I let traffic go by there, took some photos, waited for another break in traffic and cycled the rest of the bridge to have a nice downhill run from there.

I had to stay on WA-20 for about 3 km until I turned left onto Deception Rd. which would take me to the quiet Gibralter Rd. on which I rode until I had to rejoin 20 at the roundabout at Howards Corner. From there, I rode one kilometre north to Sharpes Corner where there was a major roundabout with multi lanes and still some ongoing construction there! From here, WA-20 west continues into Anacortes, but it a very busy road and not a great option for reaching downtown Anacortes for a cyclist.

This junction has been a bottleneck for many years and has been the scene of many accidents in addition to being a dangerous area for cyclists. Installing the major upgrade of the roundabout was a positive move and hopefully will allow vehicles and cyclists to flow in a safe and efficient manner.

So rather than ride west on 20, the better, and safer, option for me was to ride east a short distance from the roundabout in order to reach March’s Point Road on the east side of Fidalgo Bay. I was about to negotiate the roundabout when I noticed a new paved bike path on the south side of WA-20 east, so I hopped onto that and rode less than a kilometre to a traffic light crossing 20, after crossing I rode onto March’s Point Rd. On the way I passed a huge refinery before reaching the Tommy Thompson Trail. At the trailhead I rode onto the splendid bridge there for walkers and cyclists to cross Fidalgo Bay and pedal on all the way into downtown Anacortes (Waypoint “10” on the map).

Day 9 & 10 – Anacortes to Sidney, BC

After the short ride from Oak Harbor, I was in Anacortes about lunchtime so opted for lunch and a beer before checking into my motel. Fish and chips was on my menu, especially in this coastal city where fresh fish readily available!
I lingered over lunch and rode the short distance to my motel which was in a downtown location. I checked in, cleaned up and went to the bus stop. Why, you may say? Well my wife was coming over from Sidney, BC via the Sidney-Anacortes ferry to spend a couple of days in Anacortes with me; she was taking the bus from the ferry terminal to meet me downtown.
So this was virtually the end of this tour, as I was only 6 km from the ferry which would take us home to Sidney a couple of days later. The ferry is not a hardship as it is one of the most scenic ferry trips in the Pacific Northwest where the ferry meanders through the spectacular San Juan Islands before reaching Sidney. One of only a few International ferries in the area,
All in all a very pleasant bike tour with no issues and fabulous weather. And it was great to see my wife after being away for over a week as we both enjoyed a couple of hot sunny days wandering around the marinas, shops, restaurants and other distractions of which there are many in the very pleasant city of Anacortes, Washington.
Basil said it was nice to have a rest off the bike too!

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