Monday, August 10, 2015

Cycling on Lopez Island

Bike Ride: Lopez Island Loop
Ride Difficulty: Moderate 
Ride Distance (Round Trip): 22.5 miles biking, plus whatever hiking at each park
Time: We took about 6 hours with lots of time for lunching and swimming and exploring
Elevation Change: 820 feet total gain; same total loss

Every day of the year, I wish I was in the San Juan Islands. Although I don't count down to the next visit, I might as well. It was so great to be back in the islands this summer for a short family reunion and then some solo adventure time on Lopez Island. Lopez Island has a reputation for a) being super bike-friendly and b) just being friendly in general (it's known as "the friendly isle" and you may notice that almost everyone waves at you from their car when driving on the roads). Unlike some of the other islands, Lopez is relatively flat and doesn't have a lot of traffic (at least it didn't on the Monday that we were cycling), making it ideal for cycling.  

We rented bikes from Village Cycles in Lopez Village. We wanted to do a loop that was somewhere between 15-25 miles. The bike shop recommended heading down to Shark Reef Sanctuary and then on to Agate Beach and Iceberg Point, but we were staying down on the south part of the island and had been here already. We decided to first ride out to Fisherman Bay Spit Preserve, then down to Shark Reef Sanctuary, and then over along the east side of the island and up to Spencer Spit State Park. From there, we headed back to the Village via Hummel Lake Road. I will provide road by road directions of our route at the end of this post. 

We really got the most incredible weather for our cycling adventure. I loved the big puffy clouds that made incredible reflections on the water throughout the day. 

We started south on Fisherman Bay Road and then turned right on Bayshore Road towards Fisherman Bay Spit Preserve. We turned left on Peninsula Road to continue out to the Spit. This road turns to gravel towards the end, but was completely reasonable for a hybrid bicycle. 

 Fisherman Bay from Fisherman Bay Road

 Fisherman Bay to our right and the channel between Lopez and San Juan Islands to our left

One of the cool things about Lopez Island is all of the parks have great bike racks at the trail heads. We parked our bikes at the Spit and walked out to the water before continuing on our way. 

We took Bayshore back to Fisherman Bay Road and continued up the hill and south. We missed Airport Road because it isn't marked, so continued to Davis Bay Road and turned right. 

I absolutely loved this little church with a beautiful view and cemetery. They hold both Lutheran and Catholic services at Center Church. 

We continued along Davis Bay Road, turned right on Burt Road and then left on Shark Reef Road. We reached the Shark Reef Sanctuary parking lot (with restrooms) and trailhead shortly after turning left. 

From the parking lot, it is a 10 minute walk to the coast. Once at the coast, there is a lot of coast line to explore and it is easy to find a place for some solitude. We ate an early lunch here and enjoyed watching the kelp dance and listening to the seals on some of the small islands right off the coast. 

 Shark Reef Sanctuary

We probably spent an hour or so at Shark Reef before continuing our ride. We rode back up Burt Road, right on Davis Bay Road, and then up Fisherman Bay to take a left on Center Road. This next part of the ride was challenging for us. I don't cycle regularly, and while I never thought I couldn't make it, I was definitely working hard. 

We turned right on School Road, then continued on Lopez Sound, right on Port Stanley Road, and then right on Bakerview Road all the way to Spencer Spit State Park. We may have seen one car on this entire stretch. It was quiet with stretches of farmland and stretches of woods. It really was delightful.

At Spencer Spit there are bike racks and restrooms and then a short trail down to the spit. I really loved it here. It took me awhile to realize that to the north I was looking out on roughly the same view that I see from the other side when we stay in Olga on Orcas Island. Allyson's great-aunt has painted this view numerous times, so it felt pretty special to see it from the other side.

This was also where I finally got to take a (brief) swim. Supposedly, the water was about 47 degrees, according to our whale watching captain. It was pretty cold but very refreshing! 

Spencer Spit State Park

Frost Island

Looking out towards Orcas Island

Getting back on the bikes was tough, considering how much pain our booties were feeling at this point. Thankfully, we didn't have too much farther to go. We took Bakerview Rd back out of the park, turned left on Port Stanley Rd and right on Hummel Lake Rd. Hummel Lake is a quaint little lake and this road was generally very pleasant to ride on. It was a nice way to finish up our ride. Well, actually, we finished up with ice cream in Lopez Village at Just Heavenly Fudge Shop and THAT was the best way to end our bike ride! 

If you wanted to make this ride longer, I definitely recommend checking out Agate Beach and Iceberg Point; however, I highly recommend checking those spots out around sunset. 

 Barlow Bay

 Barlow Bay

 Agate Beach

 Iceberg Point

Turn by Turn Directions for Bike Ride:
1. Lopez Road and right on Fisherman Bay Road. 
2. Right on Bayshore Road.
3. Left on Peninsula Road. 
4. Continue onto Chestnut Lane. Arrive at Fisherman Bay Spit Preserve.
5. Back on Chestnut and continue on Peninsula. 
6. Right on Bayshore Road. 
7. Right on Fisherman Bay Road. 
8. Right on Davis Bay Road.
9. Right on Burt Road. 
10. Left on Shark Reef Road. Arrive at Shark Reef Sanctuary.
11. Shark Reef Road and right on Burt Road. 
12. Left on Davis Bay Road. 
13. Straight onto Fisherman Bay Road (don't turn left). 
14. Left on Center Road. 
15. Right on School Road. 
16. Continue on Lopez Sound Road. 
17. Right on Port Stanley Road.
18. Right on Bakerview Road. Continue into Spencer Spit State Park. 
19. Bakerview Road and left on Port Stanley Road. 
20. Right on Hummel Lake Road. 
21. Right on Fisherman Bay Road. 
22. Left on Lopez Road. Arrive back at Village Cycles. 

No comments:

Post a Comment