San Juan Islands & Victoria Bike Tour
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By Pedal Across Wisconsin Established 1985
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2020 Dates: August 20-26
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Check-in Day--Marina Inn Anacortes WA
Wednesday August 19.......Warm-up ride for early arrivals
Plan to arrive early for a fun filled day in Anacortes, a gorgeous coastal town located on Fidalgo Island. Activities include whale watching, kayaking, hiking, unique cafe's/restaurants, shopping & art galleries. Check in will be held at the Marina Inn where you will have ample time to meet the crew and other riders. A short bicycle ride with Cue-sheets & maps will be included for those arriving early in the day.
Day 1: Lopez Island!
Thursday August 20............35 or 41 miles
Our first ferry is 5 miles from Marina Inn Hotel and will bring us across the calm waters to the peaceful island of Lopez. Lopez Island was made for biking. A mixture of wooded areas and open farm land with many shoreline views and very light traffic make for a memorable day of good riding. Lopez Village has stops to refuel along the way. You can do the entire route or cut it short and spend time on the beach, in a cafe, or hunting for treasures. The ferry is a memory in itself with a chance to see bald eagles, seals, and perhaps even a whale. Our hotel for the next 3 nights will be Friday Harbor Suites, just .6 from downtown with a complimentary shuttle for those not wanting to walk. The hotel has a terrific hot breakfast buffet each morning plus a Mexican restaurant on site and live music. Riders last year really enjoyed staying here so we're coming back!
Day 2: San Juan Islands Loop
Friday August 21..........32 or 41 miles
When you wake up this morning you will be in Friday Harbor, WA. and about to find out why you are not in Friday Harbor, Canada. In the mid 1800's San Juan Island was the center of a heated border dispute between the United States and the British. When an American shot a pig owned by a worker of The Hudson Bay Company tempers flared and war was avoided only when British Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes stated, "war between these two nations over the killing of a pig would be foolish," and refused orders to attack.
During the boundary dispute both American and British troops were allowed to set up camp on the Island and American Camp is the first stop on our route today. There you can not only learn the entire history of how the Island came to be part of the United States, but treat yourself to some outstanding shoreline riding as well. At the American Camp a short hike to the top of the "Redoubt," a small portion of land built up to command a view of activity in the surrounding area, you can treat yourself to views of Mts. Rainier and Baker, The Cascade and Olympic Mountains, The Strait of Juan de Fuca, Griffin Bay, and Vancouver Island!
Heading North you can stop at the Lavender farm, then continue to Lime Kiln State Park where it's a good bet you can see whales splashing off shore. (Yes, your route scouts did!) The park provides an ideal destination before deciding to head back to Friday Harbor or continue North and complete the longer loop. Those going Northbound can take in English Camp, one of the few places in the world U.S. Government workers raise the flag of another nation every day. There are parade grounds, barracks, and a film in the visitors center that describes the boundary dispute and the unusual peaceful joint occupation. There are trails along Garrison Bay and through the forest to the top of the 650 foot summit of young Hill affording a panorama of Vancouver Island, Haro Strait, and the Olympic Mountains.
Finally, you can stop at Roche Harbor before returning south on the East side of the island to Friday Harbor.
Day 3: Your choice day
Saturday August 22 Sightsee or optional bike ride 16-40 miles
Take the day to explore the wonders of this magnificent area! The choices are plentiful and vast including whale watching expeditions, kayaking, scuba diving, fishing and hiking. Or you can explore Friday Harbor's cafes & restaurants, galleries & museums. Or perhaps enjoy hopping a ferry to Orcas Island for sightseeing via the San Juan Transit which makes stops at all the Island highlights. You can also choose more cycling as routes will mileage options will be provided and supported today. PAW social hour in the early evening at hotel to follow.
Day 4: Friday Harbor to Victoria Canada
Sunday August 23.......20 or 30 miles
As we say farewell to the USA San Juan Islands we prepare for more memory making after crossing the border onto Vancouver Island Canada, or "San Juan West." Relax on the ferry as you glide past countless small islands towards the welcoming town of Sidney, where we begin today's ride cycling South towards Victoria through open farmland and scenic waterfront & finally into the bustling yet peaceful city of Victoria.
The three days of easy riding in and around scenic, memorable Victoria will provide smiles for seasons to come.
Victoria is a unique city which accommodates outdoor activity while offering plentiful attractions including museums, castles, Fisherman's Wharf, waterside cafe's & popular gardens. The Embassy Inn & Royal Scott Inn, our hotels for the next 3 nights are strategically located at "Inner Harbour," and walking distance to many ideal destinations such as Royal BC Museum. Hotels are conveniently directly next door to each other. A group dinner is planned right at the hotel (The Embassy Inn) tonight.
Day 5: Cycle Victoria Canada
Monday August 24........35 miles
Even those who can't remember where they left their keys will have no problem remembering this day of easy riding with spectacular shoreline views, the kind of which are about to take up permanent residence in your memory bank.
Leaving the Inner Harbor and heading West nearby Fisherman's Wharf might be the first stop for many before following the shoreline South and East past the cruise ports, Ogden Point, the SunDial, and Holland Point Park.
And those who thought mile zero was in Key West need only cross the street where Victoria has its own just off the shoreline at the southwest corner of well known Beacon Hill Park.
Continuing East and North along the Dallas Rd. waterfront and McNeill Bay the views only get better.
And in true PAW style the route includes a few good lunch stops at Oak Bay Marina and Mattick's farm and Red Barn Market before heading back to our home for the next two nights at Embassy Suites with ample time for dinner and the nightly street shows on the Inner Harbor waterfront.
Day 6: Victoria Choice Day
Tuesday August 25
Victoria offers impressive & plentiful selections for our Canadian choice day. Just a short walk from our hotel you will be happy to see the Inner Harbour is loaded with spectacular sights! Explore Fisherman's Wharf, where you can feed sea lions, catch a whale & dolphin watching tour, board a sunset cruise, or take in some local seafood or our favorite; ice cream.
Or walk the other direction and see the magnificent Chateau styled 464 room Empress Hotel, located at the head of Inner Harbour, where the royal family vacationed at the same time your humble yet dedicated tour directors were in town planning (sampling cafes & chocolates) this tour. Just down the street from the Empress Hotel is the Parliment Building & Government House..more impressive historic structures where daily tours are available, again....a very short walk from our hotel. Come back at night for the street performances or take a horse-drawn tour of Victoria.
Perhaps venture a few blocks away to explore the majestic Craigdarroch Castle built 1890, where daily tours are offered. The world famous & renowned Butchart Garden is only a short bus trip away. Did we mention Victoria even has a Chinatown nearby? Whatever you choose make sure those smarty-pants phones have a few extra Gigabytes storage for pics to text & post letting everyone know how much you're enjoying Victoria.
Day 7: Victoria to Anacortes
Wednesday August 26...........24 miles
As we reluctantly retreat towards the Sydney ferry we begin to experience visions of ferry boats gliding through calm, glass-like waters, gliding downhill while overlooking the bay with mountains on the opposite shore, remote roads at the edge of Lopez, whales splashing west of San Juan Island with Canadian mountains in the background, and good times with good people filling our heads. We are about to contact SCWS ---Sudden Cycling Withdrawal Syndrome whereby cyclists experience a sudden and rapidly depreciating quality of life. Fear not--there is a quick cure at hand. It's called Door County, Florida Keys, Northwoods, and Old World Wisconsin. Signing up for any or all restores one to a better than normal state making both rider and bike younger than ever.
All aboard! Ferry is only 2 miles from Marina Inn....our starting hotel.
Beautiful cycling scenery & great paved roads.
3 nights on San Juan Island, 3 nights in Victoria. Whale watching anyone?
Enjoy San Juan, Lopez & Orcas Islands with spectacular scenery
Inner Harbour--Victoria British Columbia Canada