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10 top bicycle routes in Washington listed

CYCLING — Travelers visiting Washington State, including Puget Sound, for business or pleasure shouldn't forget their bikes.

Following is a rundown of 10 favorite bike rides from the leader of the  Cascade Bicycle Club in a Seattle Times story moved by the Associated Press.

The list is clearly from a West Sider's perspective, as it omits great routes in the Palouse and northeastern Washington.  But it's especially appealing to East Siders looking for new places to roll their wheels.


By TAN VINH/The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — Catherine Hennings, board president of Seattle’s 16,000-member Cascades Bicycle Club, rides at least 75 miles a week in everyday life plus hundreds of miles around the state on weekends and on vacation.

So we asked Hennings to list her top 10 rides, anywhere in Washington, accessible for beginner to intermediate riders.

Here’s the list, in her words in order of proximity to Seattle.

Seattle Urban loop

There’s no better way to experience the sights, smells and sounds of Seattle than this 30-mile loop. This ride has it all — the boat traffic and salmon ladder at the Ballard locks, views over Puget Sound from Magnolia, the sculpture park, the Seattle waterfront, the Chinatown-International District, Lake Washington and the University of Washington.

  • From Gas Works Park, take the Burke-Gilman Trail (and connecting streets) west to Ballard’s Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. Walk your bike across the locks and continue west on Commodore Way to Discovery Park.
  • Ride south through the park to Magnolia Boulevard and follow around the bluff to the Elliott Bay Trail and through Myrtle Edwards Park.
  • Ride along the Seattle waterfront on Alaskan Way, then turn left onto South Jackson Street and follow the bike route signs through the Chinatown-International District to the Interstate 90 trail.
  • When you reach Lake Washington, follow signs for the Lake Washington loop north to the University of Washington. From there, hop back on the Burke-Gilman Trail and back to Gas Works Park.

Bainbridge Island ride

Cascade Bicycle Club kicks off the cycling season in February with the Chilly Hilly, a 33-mile route around Bainbridge Island. You may have missed that event, but you can still ride the route on your own. See cascade.org.

Interurban Trail Loop

This North Seattle loop includes a wooded watershed in Lake Forest Park, a hidden pedestrian bridge over Interstate 5 and public art along the Interurban Trail. This 25-mile ride is fairly flat with the exception of a climb up Perkins Way.

Starting at Log Boom Park at the north end of Lake Washington, take the Burke-Gilman Trail south, then turn right on Northeast 170th Place to cross Bothell Way Northeast. Zigzag to continue west on Brookside Boulevard Northeast, which becomes Northeast 180th Street and eventually Northeast Perkins Way.

At the top of Perkins, turn right onto 10th Avenue Northeast and left onto Northeast 195th Street. Cross the pedestrian bridge to continue straight and then on the Interurban Trail heading south at Stone Avenue North.

At Northeast 83rd Street, turn left to Green Lake. Circle around Green Lake to the bike lanes along Ravenna Boulevard, which take you to the Burke-Gilman Trail north to complete the loop.

Centennial Trail

Even on a sunny day, this paved rail trail, which heads north from Snohomish to Arlington, is quieter than the Burke-Gilman, which makes it perfect for families on bikes. It gets you farther out of the urban area and into pastureland and charming historic towns. There are lots of ways to combine the trail with low-traffic country roads to create loops through towns such as Granite Falls, Sultan and Monroe. See centennialtrail.com.

Green River Gorge

The Maple Valley/Black Diamond area is another great choice for biking not far from Seattle. My favorite rides in this area include the chance to go over the scenic Green River Gorge and stop for lunch in the historic town of Black Diamond. There are lots of variations, but here’s a 25-mile loop that covers the highlights:

  • From Landsburg Park in Maple Valley, head south on Landsburg Road Southeast. Turn left on Southeast Kent-Kangley Road and then right on Kanasket-Kangley Road Southeast, which continues as the Veazie-Cumberland Road into Cumberland. From there, go east on Southeast Green River Gorge Road, over the gorge.
  • Continue into Black Diamond on Lawson Street and after exploring Black Diamond, head north to Ravensdale on the Black Diamond-Ravensdale Road. From there, Southeast Ravensdale Way will take you back to Landsburg Road Southeast and the park where you started.

Olympic Discovery Trail

This wide, paved trail is mostly flat but punctuated by a few steep ravines that can be walked. Heading east from Port Angeles, follow the trail to Port Townsend past bays, through woods and farms and over rivers and streams on some cool bridges. Heading west from Port Angeles, the paved trail continues for only a few miles, but from its terminus just over the Elwha River, there are back roads that lead to Crescent Beach and Lake Crescent. For more info, see wabikes.org.

Lopez Island

The San Juan Islands are known worldwide as a bicycle tourism destination. Lopez Island can be done as a one-day outing from Seattle and is another family-friendly ride. There’s a well-signed loop on quiet island roads, with side trips available to Spencer Spit State Park and Agate Beach County Park for beach exploring. From the ferry landing, head to Lopez Village, where you can pick up a biking map. The loop around the island is about 30 miles. (A popular annual cycling event, the Tour de Lopez, is April 25.)

Twisp River Road

The Methow Valley is known for its mountain biking but also has many great road-bike rides. My favorite — especially in the spring and early summer when mountain wildflowers are in bloom — is Twisp River Road. The road follows the beautiful Twisp River up the valley to a perfect lunch spot where the road crosses the river and the pavement ends. It’s a 36-mile ride out and back. Starting in the center of Twisp, follow West Second Avenue until it turns into Twisp River Road and keep going until the pavement ends at the river. The road follows a gentle climb up the valley, with a fast return trip back to town guaranteed.

Stemilt Hill

Wenatchee is a great jumping-off point for bicycling, and this 25-mile loop is one of my favorites when I’m looking for a serious climb. The payoff is the views out over cherry and apple orchards to the Wenatchee River and snow-capped mountains.

From Wenatchee, head east on South Wenatchee Avenue, which becomes Malaga Highway, for about 4 miles. Turn right onto West Malaga Road and then right onto Joe Miller Road (steep climb). Turn left onto Stemilt Loop Road and continue climbing through orchards into the forest above.

  • After Stemilt Loop Road starts to drop, it turns into Wenatchee Heights Road. Turn right onto Squilchuck Road and head back to town.

Walla Walla

The rolling hills of southeastern Washington are perfect for a multiday bike tour that features miles of waving wheat fields along with excellent food and wine. There are a number of roads that connect Walla Walla with the towns of Waitsburg and Dayton to make a big loop for a weekend. A good description can be found in the “Cycling Sojourner” guidebook available through the Bicycle Alliance of Washington’s Washington Bikes website, wabikes.org.

Snooze and lose on region’s most popular 2015 cycling events

CYCLING — Bicyclists can relax until spring before planning most of their 2015 cycling season, with help from The Spokesman-Review's 2015 Northwest Bicycling Events Calendar.

But the following popular winter, spring and summer rides come and go, or in a few cases, came and went, before you knew it. They're popularity causes them to sell out so quickly you have to be planning or making your application in February.

Act now on rides that still have openings.

Chilly Hilly: Feb. 22, COMPLETED, traditionally the region’s first notable cycling events of the season. The 42nd annual event starts with an early-morning ferry ride from Seattle before unleashing cyclists on a 33-mile route around Bainbridge Island that bags 2,675 feet of cumulative elevation. Put it on your list to start the 2016 season. Organized by the Cascade Bicycle Club; cascade.org.

STOKR: Scenic Tour of the Kootenai River, May 9-10, SOLD OUT, has ride-length options ranging from 37 to 98 miles each day along the Kootenai River and Lake Koocanusa out of Libby, Mont., to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Registration open Feb. 14-28 for the lottery drawing to select 450 riders; libbymt.com/events.

Mazama Ride, June 20-21: SOLD OUT, runs 75 miles each day on North Cascades Highway from Marblemount to Mazama for the overnight and back, by Redmond Cycling Club. $145-$195; redmondcyclingclub.org.

RATPOD: Ride Around the Pioneers in One Day, June 27, STILL OPEN, the 14th annual one-day, 130-mile ride from Dillon, Mont., through the Big Hole Valley of southwestern Montana, along wilderness areas and above the Big Hole River, fundraiser to benefit Camp Mak-A-Dream. Online registration opened March 3 and will continue until cap of 650 riders is reached; ratpod.org.

STP: Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, July 11-12, SOLD OUT BUT OPTIONS POSSIBLE, the largest multiday bicycle event in the Northwest, has riders pedaling 200 miles from Seattle to Portland in one or two days. Registration opened in January Cascade Bicycle Club members; and in February for nonmembers. The 10,000-rider limit has been reached in February in the past, but it sold out this year on March 8. Check website on June 1 for possible reopening of registration to fill refunded spaces; cascade.org.

RAMROD: July 30, LOTTERY ENTRY CLOSES MARCH 31. Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day, a premiere one-day ultra-marathon cycling event by the Redmond Cycling Club, 10,000 feet of climbing in 168 miles. $95; redmondcyclingclub.org.

RSVP2:  Aug. 15-16, STILL OPEN, Cascade Bicycle Club ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party, 106 miles on day 1 and 82 miles on day 2 into Canada. Return by chartered bus. The RSVP1 leaves a day earlier, but is already sold out. $150; cascade.org.

Cycle Oregon: Sept. 12-19, STILL OPEN, billed as “the best bike ride in America,” the ultra-supported tour moves to a different route each year supported by local communities. A spin-off weekend event is set for July 10-12. The 2015 routes will be in the Hells Canyon-Wallowas area. Fills quickly; cycleoregon.com.

WaCanId Ride: Sept. 14-19, STILL OPEN, the annual international tour on paved roads encircling the Selkirk Mountains of Washington, Canada and Idaho. The six-day event covers 350 miles, North America’s longest free ferry ride and includes sag support and the services of seven Rotary Clubs. Space limited; (888) 823-2626, www.wacanid.org.

Help make bicycling count in Spokane

We need you. Yes, you.

The Cascade Bicycle Club is conducting another Bike and Pedestrian Count from September 25th-27th at various locations in Spokane and volunteers are needed to help with transportation planning by collecting usage counts.

If you are interested and able to volunteer for two hours between 7:00 to 9:00 AM or 4:00 to 6:00 PM, on September 25, 26 or 27, please sign-up for a shift here. The website will only allow you to sign up for shifts on September 25, but please know that you can conduct the count on any one of the three dates you prefer (you’ll just write the date you choose on your count form).

Since 2008, Cascade Bicycle Club, on contract through the Washington State Department of Transportation, has enlisted hundreds of volunteers each September and October to count bicyclists and pedestrians in dozens of communities around the state. This year, they are recruiting volunteers to conduct counts in 40 communities around Washington.

STP still hot on cyclists’s summer tour list


CYCLING — The 200-mile Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic — which can be done in one or two days — shows no signs of declining in popularity.

STP, the Northwest's largest multi-day cycling event, capped at 10,000 riders, filled it's quota on Feb. 21 this year — a full month earlier than in 2011.

The event was founded 32 years ago and is organized like a well-tuned machine by the Cascade Bicycle Club.

Who rode STP in 2011?

  • 10,000 riders
  • Oldest rider: 85
  • 18% first-time riders
  • 100 safety and medical riders
  • 30 Ride Referees
  • 228 riders who have participated in 10+ STPs
  • One rider who has ridden them all: Jerry Baker!
  • Riders came from 42 states plus Canada (Alberta, B.C. & Ontario) and England.

Bicycle ‘Ride Around Washington’ coming to Palouse

BICYCLING — RAW — the popular Ride Around Washington organized by the Cascade Bicycle Club — is focusing its 2012 on the region from Chewelah south through Spokane and around the Palouse. 

The seven-day, 400-mile supported bike tour isn't until Aug. 4-10, but it's already 92 percent SOLD OUT.

Download the 2012 RAW Ride Guide for a detailed description.

  • The guide is a masterpiece of organization, with checklists worth reading for any bicycle tours.

Online-only registration for RAW opened on January 10, 2012.  It was 92 percent sold out on March 27. 

Cyclists may join the Cascade Bicycle Club when registering for the event or in advance by visiting the membership page.

Mount Rainier ultra bike ride registration deadline looms

CYCLING — RAMROD, the grueling Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day, isn't until July 26, but Saturday (March 31) is the deadline to register for the lottery drawing to get in to one of the region's premier thigh-busting bicycling events.

Sponsored by the Redmond Cycling Club, RAMROD is a challenging ultra-ride of 152 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing.  The nature of the ride, with three major climbs and a route through Mount Rainier National Park, requires the club to limit the event to 800 cyclists.

Applications are accepted through March 31 for the lottery to determine participants.

Cost: $105.

Drawing is April 12.