Outdoor Seattle

Lopez Island is one of the best leisure bike rides in Washington

Lopez is considered the best of the San Juan Islands for bicycling, especially for beginners. It is the flattest of the islands and retains a rural character, with numerous working farms, secluded homes, and a number of waterfront parks. Lopez is the first ferry stop from Anacortes. The best route is to circle the Island counterclockwise, which puts riders on the shore side of the roadway for the best views. Every curve of the shoreline offers another exciting and gorgeous ocean vista. Terrain: As with all the San Juan Islands, rolling hills are covered with fields and forests. This is considered the flattest of the major islands, but wide-range gearing is still recommended due to numerous short but steep climbs.  The elevation gain is 4,564 feet of elevation a 32-mile ride on Lopez Island that compares  to 4,200 feet over 30 miles on San Juan Island. Overall, the cycling on Lopez is every bit as scenic as San Juan. The roads are in as good condition, the traffic is generally lighter, and the motorists are much friendlier; be prepared to wave back at oncoming traffic. 

My latest ride experience  

My ride was as 32-mile loop — clockwise — around the island that started with an uphill slog from the ferry landing which is at the very northern tip of the island. I headed  south on roads that had pastures on one side and water on the other side Lopez Island, WA .  You also have a grand view of theOlympic Mountain ranges.  My first stop was Spencer Spit State Park, named for a spit that encloses a lagoon. The isolated beach here is covered with driftwood, enough to build a house or two. Although the area sticks out from the island, nearby islands of Decatur, Frost and Blakely across the narrow channel give this area a feeling of enclosure.  The Odlin State Park is within five miles of the ferry and accommodates camping.  Away from the park you will begin to encounter farm pastures that forms in the center of the island. Picking up Mud Bay Road on this journey took us to the southern area of the island.  I then passed the the very scenic MacKaye Harbor. Except for Lopez Island Village, which we hadn’t been to yet, a convenience store here offered the first food we’d come across.  The route brought us back down to sea level at MacKaye Harbor. There are bed & breakfast inns here, as there are scattered all over the island.  We climbed out of this area past more farms on the western side of the island and rode past Shark Reef Park.  Unfortunately we were pressed for time, and couldn’t stop at Shark Reef Point, this is a wildlife sanctuary for seals and sea birds. There are views across the water to San Juan Island, and of course the omnipresent Olympic Mountains across the Strait de Juan Del Fuca on clear days.  All the other amenities are in Lopez Village, sitting next to Fisherman Bay which is full of all types of boats. You’ll find restaurants and the famous Holly B’s Bakery here.  This is where you’ll find Lopez Bicycle Works, for repairs, supply or bike rental.

Lodging and Ferry Schedules

You can click Lopez Island web cam to see what kind of weather conditions you will see that day and you can obtain ferry schedules by clicking Washington State Ferry Schedule.  I highly recommend walking on with your bicycle.  Typically you will see 30 to 40 bike rides lined up to do this.  Just follow the crowd once you have purchased your ticket.


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