Seattle to Port Townsend
The very first summer that Jason and I lived in the Pacific Northwest we cycled from his childhood home in West Seattle to my front door in San Francisco. The first day of our Pacific Coast tour was so remarkable, that we’ve done the route many times over the years.
The ride from downtown Seattle to Port Townsend is nothing shy of stunning. In just over fifty miles one winds along the island waterways of the Puget Sound and skirts the peninsula with the Olympic Mountain Range, topped with annual glaciers and deep evergreen forests. A summer and early fall highlight is to time one’s arrival in Port Townsend with their amazing Saturday farmers market. There you’ll find an incredible cornucopia of breads, local cheeses, oysters, fresh fish, and greens, all produced and harvested in the regions through which you’ll have pedaled.
Beginning an overnight excursion with a ferry ride never ceases to delight me. One leaves downtown Seattle on the Washington State Ferry bound for Bainbridge Island. You'll then travel Highway 305 north over Agate Pass Bridge and through the town of Poulsbo (12.5 miles). Directly off WA-305, in town, head to the Central Market and load up on an amazing selection of snacks and bulk foods, or some coffee for the way. A mile out of town, turn right on to WA-3 continuing northbound. Many of the roads between Bainbridge Island and the Hood Canal Bridge are named after the first European settlers to homestead the region, long before Seattle was established as a city development and port.
After crossing the Hood Canal Bridge, rest your legs at Shine Tidelands State Park. This stop is a wonderful place to observe Northwest birds because a wetland marsh rests right beside the banks of the Puget Sound. You’ll catch the unmistakable call of Red Winged Blackbirds, and wonder at the diversity of shore birds along the cove.
When you come to WA-19 or Beaver Valley Road follow the way into Port Ludlow. Oak Bay road follows the water and rejoins Rhody Dr (formerly Beaver Valley Rd), to lead you right into Port Townsend.
Camping directly in town at Fort Warden State Park is wonderful. There is a Hike and Bike camp area for a reduced fee, and it’s a quick ride into the old port town. Enjoy a beer at the Port Townsend Brewing Company, right in the marina and weave through the town’s neighborhoods to admire the Victorian homes and picturesque view of the Olympic Range in the distance, or just make camp and enjoy the park.
Over the years we’ve discovered that the route from Seattle to Port Townsend serves as a gateway to countless multi-day trips. If you would like a three or four day island-hopping loop, you can take the ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island and head back to Seattle through Mukulteo, or challenge yourself with the twelve mile climb up to Hurricane Ridge on the Peninsula.
Photos courtesy of Martina Brimmer