Seattle to Fort Ebey State Park Loop

As a newbie to Washington state (two years), I am amazed by the variety of cycling terrain available to explore here. Want mountains? You got 'em. Want valleys? You got 'em. Want islands? You got 'em. Want rollers? You got 'em. Want deserts? Well, you have to go over to the east side of the mountains, but you still got 'em. I know there are many other places in the world blessed with grand outdoor scenes, but this is the first place I’ve lived with such natural wonders just outside my door.

One of my favorite places to camp for a bike overnight is Fort Ebey State Park on Whidbey Island. Located about 65 miles from Seattle, it really shows off the variety of Washington State. It has gorgeous sunsets over Puget Sound, mountain views, idyllic scenes, and quite a bit of off-road bicycle trail.

My friend and I packed light and skipped out of work on Friday afternoon, June 21st, for a solstice overnight on our beloved touring bikes. From Seattle, we took the Interurban trail north and then hopped on the Mukilteo Speedway, descending (past the line of waiting cars) to the ferry for the 15-minute ride to Clinton.

On the island, we rode up the highway until Freeland, taking the scenic route through South Whidbey State Park (another place you could camp) before meeting back up with the highway for a couple of miles and then taking Wanamaker and Fort Casey roads to Coupeville. At the grocery at the intersection of Main and Fort Casey we stocked up on wine, cheese, and smoked salmon, then headed to the campsite. Instead of following the highway, we took the Kettles Trail all the way from Coupeville into Fort Ebey State Park. It parallels the highway for awhile before dipping into the forest on a gravel path that turns into a bit of hike-a-bike until you pop out at the campground. We discovered this trail last year on our way up to the San Juan Islands, and had been looking forward to riding it on this trip.

Fort Ebey State Park has great hiker-biker sites, stashed away on a path off of the gun battery, with picnic tables and a water spigot. An outhouse is a couple of hundred yards away, and there's a shower house back in the main campground. We enjoyed our dinner on a bluff overlooking the sound and the Olympic Peninsula, celebrating the longest day of the year.

The next morning I awoke to full light at 5:30 a.m. before snuggling deeper into my sleeping bag and waking up two hours later. We packed up camp, ate breakfast on the bluff, and headed out on the Kettles Trail back to Coupeville. There we stopped for coffee before heading toward Port Townsend via the Keystone Ferry. In Port Townsend, we found the Pacific Northwest Trail, another off-road gravel trail along the water.  

Taking aim at the ferry landing in Kingston, we followed the scenic Oak Bay Road along the water. After crossing the Hood Canal Bridge, we stopped for lunch, which featured leftovers from dinner plus some munchies picked up at the Port Townsend Food Co-op at Salsbury Point Park. Feeling well fueled and energized, we zipped to the Kingston ferry and rode back to Edmonds, where we caught the Interurban and headed south (although I wouldn’t recommend taking Walnut out of Edmonds -- pretty steep!). We finished the roughly 30-hour, 130-mile trip with a great meal at Latona Pub ... with the sun still high in the sky.

Get more information about bike overnights.

Tip for this adventure: Get to Fort Ebey early enough to watch the sunset -- you won't be disappointed. A map of our route may be viewed at this link

Favorite local bike shop: Recycled Cycles in Seattle.

5 responses so far ↓

Scott - Aug 27, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Looks like a sweet ride...

Nicco - Sep 2, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Thanks so much for sharing. This seems like a perfect weekend ride with a good friend. I live in seattle and will definately do this soon. Thanks again!

Carry - Nov 27, 2013 at 6:50 PM

I'm putting this trip on my bucket list! We'll leave from our house on the Eastside, though. Looks awesome! (And thanks for the map.)

David - May 20, 2014 at 9:10 PM

Why not continue south from Poulsbo to Bainbridge and take the ferry from there to Seattle? I've ridden both routes and find the Bainbridge alternative to be both much more scenic and considerably safer. It's probably faster, too, and certainly not significantly longer.

Katherine - May 21, 2014 at 11:50 AM

David -

You can totally take the Bainbridge ferry if you want to. We took the side roads (Oak Bay) to Kingston which is pretty scenic and safe, but the real reason we took the North ferry is because we live North of downtown so it's a bit more convenient for us.


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