Pacific Coast North
If you’ve got two weeks to spend on a bike, there’s no better spot on earth than the northernmost section of Adventure Cycling’s Pacific Coast Route.
Starting in Bellingham, Washington, we’ll zip up to the Canadian border before starting our trip south along Puget Sound, heading toward the mountains and passing by the Olympic Peninsula. Continuing south, we’ll cross the Columbia River into Astoria, Oregon, and then proceed down the Oregon coast, dazzled for nearly 200 miles by the sights, sounds, and scents of the Pacific Ocean. We’ll enjoy some of the most pristine beaches and pleasant state parks in the U.S. before heading back inland to close out our ride in the bike-loving college town of Eugene.
"My favorite thing about the tour was the other cyclists on the ride."
Day 1. Bellingham, Washington, 0 miles
We'll meet up in the afternoon in the vibrant university town of Bellingham. We'll begin getting to know one another over a home-cooked meal and find out a little more about what to expect on our upcoming adventure. Then it's off to our tents for a good night's sleep to prepare us for the open road.
Day 2. Bellingham to Peace Arch State Park/Canadian border and back, 72 miles
After breakfast, we're off on our only northbound day of the trip. Our turnaround point will be the Canadian border and Peace Arch State Park, dedicated by the citizens of the U.S. and Canada in 1921. The namesake Peace Arch was built in honor of the 100th anniversary of the treaties resulting from the War of 1812 with Great Britain. From there, we'll head back south to Bellingham.
Day 3. Bellingham to Oak Harbor, 33 miles
Pack 'em up and move 'em out -- we're off and heading south today, skirting the shores of Samish, Padilla, and Skagit bays as we go. Tonight's destination is Deception Pass State Park, known for its old-growth forest, wildlife, breathtaking views of rugged cliffs, and the turbulent tidal rapids and whirlpools that froth beneath twin bridges connecting Fidalgo and Whidbey islands.
Day 4. Oak Harbor to Port Townsend, 34 miles
On this relatively short day we'll have extra time to enjoy our stunning surroundings. Not long into the day we'll pass through the town of Oak Harbor, a perfect spot to grab brunch. Then after a short ferry ride, we'll reach our camp at Fort Worden State Park, where we can spend the evening hiking, swimming, or bird watching. The place may look familiar if you've seen the 1982 movie An Officer and a Gentleman, which was filmed largely in and around Fort Worden.
Day 5. Port Townsend to Belfair, 73 miles
Leaving Port Townsend early in the morning, we'll ride along Puget Sound with great opportunities to look out over the water to Whidbey Island to the east. To our west, we'll look for glimpses of snowy peaks that fill the interior of Olympic National Park. We'll journey over the Hood Canal Floating Bridge at Squamish Harbor and pass by the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard before making our way to our overnight on the water.
Day 6. Belfair to Elma, 57 miles
Our ride today will take us away from the sounds and inlets that Washington is so well known for, trading instead for forest-lined roads. Along the way, we'll pass possible stops like Sunset Beach or Mason Lake, and maybe grab lunch on Oakland Bay outside of Shelton before we make it to our overnight stop in Elma.
Day 7. Elma to Winlock, 57 miles
Back on the road, we'll continue south, enjoying a day with less climbing than the previous two days. On a clear day, we'll hopefully be able to get glimpses of Mt. Rainier, a stratovolcano towering over 14,000 feet above sea level. Part of our route will follow the winding Chehalis River, which flows northwest before joining the Pacific Ocean. We'll end our day just outside of Winlock, which claims to be the home of the World's Largest Egg.
Day 8. Winlock to Cathlamet, 61 miles
We'll pass through the towns of Toledo, Castle Rock, and Longview today before we turn west and follow the Columbia River along the Washington-Oregon border. The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest, and stretches over 1,200 miles from its origins in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. We'll spend the night on the water's edge, our last night in Washington.
Day 9. Cathlamet to Astoria, Oregon, 31 miles
We'll cross into Oregon and make our way to the end of the Columbia River. Our relatively short mileage today will feel nice after just over a week on the road, and we'll be able to get to town and put up our feet to get ready for our rest day tomorrow. There is so much to do in Astoria, though, that you might just want to start your exploration today!
Day 10. Astoria, layover day
Founded as Fort Astoria in 1811 by John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company, a visit here is never complete without a look around the Columbia River Maritime Museum and a bowl of clam chowder. You may also want to hop aboard the Astoria Riverfront Trolley for a tour of the hillside town, where the 1985 movie classic The Goonies was filmed. Plenty of outdoor activities beckon as well, from day rides to short hikes.
Day 11. Astoria to Manzanita, 46 miles
We'll hug the coast today, passing through a chain of charming resort towns including Seaside, Cannon Beach, and Nehalem -- all great places to stop for chowder or saltwater taffy! We'll also pass through several state parks, including Sunset Beach, Ecola, Arcadia Beach, and Oswald, before heading to our camp in Nehalem Bay State Park.
Day 12. Manzanita to Tillamook, 42 miles
Today you may find it hard to take your eyes off the ocean. Luckily there are plenty of pull-offs where you can pause to admire the grand Pacific. In Tillamook you can tour the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory and refuel on one of the dairy's legendary ice cream cones -- they come in 38 flavors! Next, the Three Capes Scenic Drive takes us back to the Pacific Ocean. We'll stick close to the beach all the way to Cape Lookout State Park.
Day 13. Tillamook to Newport, 63 miles
We'll spend the first half of the day riding through coastal forest and catching glimpses of the Pacific as we proceed south. After passing through the busy town of Lincoln City, we'll parallel the coast once again. Waves crashing into basaltic headlands make for some of the most spectacular surf action in the world. Wave features with descriptive names like the Devil's Churn, Cook's Chasm, and Spouting Horn give you some idea of what to expect. We'll spend the night near Newport, home of the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
Day 14. Newport to Mapleton, 72 miles
Continuing south, we'll stop at Seal Rock State Wayside, where you can explore a two-mile span of partially submerged ledge rock that attracts seals, sea lions, and seabirds, and where tidal pools contain mollusks, starfish, and other marine life. Once we hit Florence, we'll turn away from the coast and head east as we make our way to our final destination.
Day 15. Mapleton to Eugene, 63 miles
We'll return by way of the TransAmerica Trail's Florence–Eugene connector. We'll surmount 1,023-foot Low Pass before descending into the Willamette Valley and tour's end in Eugene. With the sea breeze and salt air still fresh in mind, we'll say farewell to our new friends, but not to the many memories that are ours to treasure forever.