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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.