Three Stunning Island Cycling Routes in Washington State

When I moved to Seattle, it took me a while to get used to cycling around here. Coming from California, I learned to enjoy routes that almost always traverse through 1000+ ft tall hills. I’m missing those routes here in Seattle, but now I’m learning to enjoy flat roads and rolling hills.

The three courses I’ll show in this blog post are both beautiful and challenging. Traversing over many rolling hills, they accumulate total elevation gain quickly, and it will drain out the energies of the unprepared cyclist. For the beginner, it might feel frustrating, but the intermediate and advanced cyclist will undoubtedly appreciate the quality of these rides.

Bainbridge Island Chilly Hilly

Chilly Hilly is a route created by Cascade cycling club. It looks like they have an event around it as well. This route offers lovely views and consistent but short climbing with almost zero cars to worry about. There are possible coffee stops at the beginning/end but also the midpoint. Mostly covered by trees, this is the perfect ride for a sunny day.

Mt Rainier from the Waterfront of Bainbridge Island

The best way to get there is by taking the Bainbridge Ferry in downtown Seattle. The trip costs about $10 round trip, and its schedules are pretty flexible.

Camano Island

This route offers stunning views and many rolling hills. If you begin at Stanwood, you will get a nice 40-miler, but I started it from Lake Goodwin for a strenuous 76-miler. This route is also mostly covered by trees and has almost no traffic. If I was training for a time trial, this is where I’d go.

Water views in Camano Island, unfortunately the day didn’t help me with the photos.

This area is primarily residential, and I found it challenging to park. I did see many safe spots in Stanwood, but I ended up parking at Wenberg County Park for about $10.

Lopez Island

The final route is a cycling paradise. It traverses through many rolling hills that take you to pictorial corners around the island. Mostly farms, parks, and residences, this island offers bike packers a treat. I would recommend, though, packing some snacks of your own as the restaurant options here didn’t please my inner foodie. There are many ways to explore this island, and I would come back multiple times. The island itself is perfect for riding, but so are the other San Juan Islands and Anacortes.

The ferry terminal at Lopez Island already gives the ride a special vibe.

If you’re driving to the area, there is plenty of parking space available. You can also park long-term at the Anacortes ferry terminal. I parked outside the city for the chance of exploring Anacortes, also to add twenty miles to my ride that day.

Final Thoughts

All of these routes offer the temptation to blast through them. I recommend pacing yourself as the rolling hills might be deceivingly easy but build fatigue quickly. I also recommend for additional enjoyment, thinking of these as joy rides. Pack your favorite picnic items, and surrender to the feeling of stopping everywhere to soak in the stunning scenery. If you’re new to cycling in the area and want more tips, let me know in the comments section. Also, if you are very acquainted with the area, I’d love to know which are your favorite routes.

One of the many coastal views that Lopez Island has to offer

2 thoughts on “Three Stunning Island Cycling Routes in Washington State

  1. Hi Juan, nice to meet you via your blog! I’m Joy, Marie’s friend. LOVE that you’re enjoying riding around the Seattle area. You’ve discovered some nice rides in your short time here. San Juan Island offers a nice loop w/ about 3,000 feet of climbing + a chance to see whales from Lime Kiln St Part (one of the best places to spot orcas from land in the entire world). I just did a ride on Orcas where we rode 50+ miles w/ 4,900 feet of climbing! Other wonderful riding destinations are riding from Rockport to Winthrop over Highway 20 (scenic highway) w/ an overnight in Mazama or Winthrop and then riding back. Or finding a friend to provide a ride back.

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    1. Thanks, Joy! and nice to meet you too! I’d love to see your routes and hopefully discover more of the area, maybe even go on rides as a group!

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