Last week we shared a number of short, family friendly bike routes in and around Olympia. This week, in our continuing series, we feature some longer rides that are more suited to those with a higher level of fitness. Young children should not attempt these rides, but athletic youth over the age of 10, riding an appropriate bike, and supervised by an experienced rider should be fine for at least the “out” leg of each route. All of the routes showcased this week have either a designated bicycle lane or a shoulder wide enough to offer a degree of protection for riders.
Before sharing the road with cars, it is best to familiarize yourself with basic traffic laws. This is especially true for youth. Always remember: The same laws apply to bicyclists that apply to motor vehicles. You are subject to ticketing, fines, and even liability in case of injury if you fail to follow the law.
- Obey all traffic laws, lights, and signs
- Ride in the same direction as traffic. (Riding against traffic, even in a bike lane, is illegal.)
- Signal before turns and lane changes. You can do this by pointing with your arm fully extended in the direction you intend to turn.
- Outfit your bike with proper lighting when riding after dark. At minimum you must have a white headlight and a red rear reflector.
- Wear a properly fitted helmet. (Although it is not currently a law in Thurston County, helmet laws are in effect elsewhere in the state.)
Olympia to Boston Harbor
A round trip ride out to Boston Harbor starting at the Olympia Farmers’ Market is roughly 22 miles. Downtown parking is convenient for those wanting to do a full out and back ride. For riders not sure of their endurance levels, East Bay Drive NE and Boston Harbor Road NE offer convenient pick up and drop off locations at Priest Point and Burfoot Parks. The designated bike lanes only last from downtown until Priest Point Park, but a wide shoulder exists the entire length of Boston Harbor Road.
West Olympia to Steamboat Island
Using Griffin School on Olympia’s west side as the starting point, a trip to the end of Steamboat Island Road and back is approximately 20 miles. Riders will be rewarded at the end of the road with beautiful views of Squaxin Island, Hope Island and Puget Sound. A wide shoulder is available nearly the entire route. Carlyon Beach Park, near the end of the road, is a convenient pick up point for those not able to complete the round trip.
Tumwater to Littlerock and Rochester
Littlerock Road extends roughly 16 miles from the Tumwater Costco all the way south through Littlerock and Rochester. Starting at Black Hills High School, a one way trip to Rochester is about 14 miles. For those wanting a quick rest stop before turning around, a 1.5 mile detour on Sargent Road out toward Grand Mound and I-5 will take you to The Great Wolf Lodge, complete with a coffee shop. This is also a great pick up spot for those not able to complete the full 28+ mile ride.
Tumwater to Tenino
Tumwater Falls Park along the Deschutes Parkway offers convenient parking for many Thurston County rides. This is a great place to leave your car for the 26 mile ride to Tenino and back. Riders must first make their way to Capital Boulevard then head south to where the road turns into Old Highway 99 near the Olympia Regional Airport. From there it is a straight shot right into Tenino. Except for a narrowing at the railway bridge near Offut Lake, the road from the airport on features fairly wide shoulders.
Other Riding Opportunities
For those interested in expanding their fitness level and exploring Olympia area routes with others, The Capital Bike Club offers multiple opportunities for group rides including Tues/Thursday fitness rides and Saturday/Sunday social paced rides. Membership is required for participation in group rides but is only $15 a year for an individual or $25 for a family. A link to the Capital Bike Club is provided below for your convenience.
This week featured all out-and-back routes. Next up: 50+ mile rides for those with good endurance and looking for a challenge.
Links of Interest: